Posts tagged with Markieff Morris

Disgruntled Markieff Morris tosses towel at Suns coach, earns 2-game suspension

Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek, right, talks with Markieff Morris, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek, right, talks with Markieff Morris, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It doesn’t look like Markieff Morris and Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek will be exchanging Christmas cards this year.

Upset Wednesday night when his coach subbed him out of the game in the fourth quarter of what would become another Suns loss, Morris threw a towel toward Hornacek while yelling at him, according to the Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro. Hornacek then picked up the towel and threw it back in the direction of Morris with a counter of “his own upset words.”

A former star at Kansas, Morris has fallen out of favor with Phoenix’s coach of late, playing far fewer minted than expected after a breakthrough season a year ago (career highs of 15.3 points per game, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 31.5 minutes, 82 starts).

Morris logged just 12 minutes in the loss to Denver that now may mark the tipping point in what already had become a soured relationship between the 6-foot-10 forward and the organization that drafted him.

“He’s mad about not playing,” Hornacek said in Coro’s report. “I look at the stat sheet. He’s a minus-13 in 12 minutes. So there, I took him out. … He thinks he’s better than that. Show me.”

Morris first became disgruntled with the Suns organization this past summer, when the team traded his twin brother Marcus to Detroit unexpectedly. He publicly said he wanted Phoenix to trade him, too, as a result and the more the season goes on the more inevitable that endgame seems.

After starting 16 games for the Suns this season, Morris since has lost his starting job and now finds himself behind Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic in Hornacek’s rotation.

Following Morris’ run-in with the head coach — incidentally, Hornacek also got in a shouting match with Marcus Morris nearly a year ago — Markieff was suspended two games by the Suns on Christmas Eve, according to Yahoo.

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As for Morris’ response Wednesday night regarding the tossed towel?

“That’s between me and ‘H’ (Hornaceck),” Morris told the Arizona Republic. “It’s not for media. It’s something between me and him that happened. We’ll talk about it.”

After not playing a single minute in 7 of the previous 9 games, Morris has played sparingly in Phoenix’s last 4 outings. The fifth-year forward logged 17 minutes in his return to action, a win at New Orleans (one of the teams rumored to be interested in trading for him), and scored 13 points. He scored 8 points in 15 minutes versus Milwaukee, 4 points in 21 minutes at Utah and 6 points in 12 minutes vs. Denver.

Morris’ name already was one of the biggest swirling in NBA trade rumors. Now his departure from Phoenix (12-19) seems inevitable.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com


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Markieff Morris’ days with Phoenix might be numbered

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) shoots over Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Phoenix. The Warriors won 135-116. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) shoots over Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Phoenix. The Warriors won 135-116. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Unlike his brother Marcus, thriving on a new team this season, it seems doubtful Markieff Morris is too thrilled with his situation in Phoenix right now.

Then again, his basketball troubles could only be temporary. Morris’ days as a member of the Suns might be numbered.

Although the 6-foot-10 power forward has played for Phoenix since he left Kansas in 2011, Morris, angered the team abruptly traded his brother, publicly postured for a trade this summer. He changed his tune upon reporting to preseason camp, but as the season progresses, it appears Morris never has completely gotten over it.

Way back during the first week of the regular season, Marcus Morris told mlive.com he couldn’t believe Markieff was still with Phoenix. What’s more, the new member of the Pistons said his twin brother didn’t “look happy.”

"He just don't look comfortable," Marcus Morris added. "He don't look too excited."

Marcus said he knew Markieff well enough to sense his demeanor had changed, and he didn’t understand why the Suns hadn’t traded him, too.

“You're in the league, a player says he doesn't want to play somewhere, and everybody's asking him about it. I haven't really seen too many places that kept the player who doesn't want to be there," Marcus said at the time.

While many around the NBA assumed Markieff’s name would come up in trade talks sooner or later this season, that line of thinking picked up heat this past week with ESPN’s Marc Stein reporting Houston might be looking into a deal for the disgruntled forward. From there, it didn’t take too long for other potential destinations, such as New Orleans, to pop up on the rumor-obsessed Internet.

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Fueling the speculation, Morris hasn’t played a single minute in three of Phoenix’s past five games. AZcentral.com reported Markieff chose to sit out a Dec. 2 game against Marcus and the Pistons with a bruised knee. Suns coach Jeff Hornacek then declined to play his team’s lone Morris twin at Memphis. Reportedly, Morris missed Wednesday’s game against Orlando due to illness. Two days earlier, he only played 7 minutes (off the bench) against Chicago.

Of late, Phoenix big men Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic have supplanted Morris in Hornacek’s rotation.

On the season, Morris’ numbers have dropped off from a year ago, when he enjoyed his best campaign in the NBA. He’s only scoring 11.4 points and shooting what would be career-lows from the field (38.6%) and from 3-point range (27.9%), despite some good games here and there in November.

The more you read the writing on the wall, the more likely it seems Phoenix will part ways with the player it drafted 13th overall in 2011.

For what it’s worth Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, as reported at ArizonaSports.com, went on a local radio show and had good things to say about Morris.

McDonough praised Morris for his attitude and pointed to his cheering reaction from the bench when Teletovic scored a game-winning basket.

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“Are we shopping him? I wouldn’t necessarily say that, but we’re looking at whatever we can do to upgrade our team,” Phoenix’s GM said. “The trade deadline is in late February. Despite our struggles, I think as we sit here today we’re one game out of the eight spot in the West, and I think we just went through the toughest part of our schedule and we were able to keep our head above water, so to speak.”

McDonough went on to say the Suns don’t have a player they’re “just trying to get rid of.”

“We don’t really look to make moves that would have us take a step back, or I guess be considered lateral moves. If there’s a trade that makes our team a whole lot better in the short and long-term, we’ll do it. But short of that we’ll ride with the group we have.”

All of that might be true, but if the Suns have privately decided to use Leuer and Teletovic as their power forwards, instead of Morris, other teams are going to inquire about a trade.

Even if Morris has slumped this season, his size and ability to stretch the floor are obviously coveted (see: Houston and New Orleans rumors). If the right trade offer comes along, Phoenix would move him. The Suns’ GM essentially said so himself.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com


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‘Hawks in the NBA Media Days highlights

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul Pierce speaks during the team's NBA basketball media day, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul Pierce speaks during the team's NBA basketball media day, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

During the past few days, players for the NBA’s 30 franchises posed for photos, answered questions and took in media day festivities with varying degrees of seriousness.

That means it’s time to get the old ’Hawks in the NBA blog up and firing again. At this moment 19 former Kansas players draw paychecks in The Association, and they all — well, almost all of them — had their moments in the spotlight at media days.

From rookies just getting started, to veterans joining new teams to role players fitting in, here are some of the KU-related social media highlights from around the league.

COLE ALDRICH, L.A. CLIPPERS

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CLIFF ALEXANDER, PORTLAND

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DARRELL ARTHUR, DENVER

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TARIK BLACK, L.A. LAKERS

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MARIO CHALMERS, MIAMI

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In case you were wondering, “Spo” is Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, and Chalmers’ “new role” will be him coming off the bench.

NICK COLLISON, OKLAHOMA CITY

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JOEL EMBIID, PHILADELPHIA

If you were curious about how Joel Embiid is handling his ongoing injury and rehab process, you’re not alone.

Appropriately enough, the injured-for-another-entire-season Embiid wasn’t a part of the 76ers’ media day, according to The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey.

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Presumably, he’ll attend a media day and play in the NBA one of these years.

Embiid’s last known whereabouts? Going to see the Pope.

DREW GOODEN, WASHINGTON

Before looking for Drew Gooden content, I thought, What’s that maniac up to?

Well, he’s up to this:

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That dude has to be a blast to cover. Rarely not entertaining.

KIRK HINRICH, CHICAGO

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BEN MCLEMORE, SACRAMENTO

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MARCUS MORRIS, DETROIT

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The Pistons’ Twitter account did a tweet Q&A with a number of Detroit players Monday, but apparently Marcus bounced before they could get one rolling with him.

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As a side note, ESPN’s NBA folks ranked Marcus Morris as the 191st-best player in the league. So there’s that.

MARKIEFF MORRIS, PHOENIX

By far the biggest ’Hawks in the NBA news to come out of media days was presumably disgruntled forward Markieff Morris putting on a happy face and stating he wants to be in Phoenix.

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That’s not what he was saying back in August, when he told The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey: “One thing for sure, I am not going to be there.

At the time at least, Markieff was hot and bothered about Phoenix shipping his twin brother and roommate Marcus off to the Pistons. He still might be a little sour with Suns general manager Ryan McDonough about that transaction.

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SASHA KAUN, CLEVELAND

Sasha Kaun is Russian. Timofey Mozgov is Russion. Hijinks ensued.

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KELLY OUBRE JR., WASHINGTON

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Looks like Kelly Oubre Jr. loosened up and got comfortable at the Wizards’ media day.

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PAUL PIERCE, L.A. CLIPPERS

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THOMAS ROBINSON, BROOKLYN

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BRANDON RUSH, GOLDEN STATE

Yes, Brandon Rush won an NBA championship with the Warriors. But, no, there isn’t a lot of media interest in him out in Oakland.

Upon posting this blog, Rush hadn't appeared in any Golden State tweets — or, really, anywhere else in the Twitterverse.

ANDREW WIGGINS, MINNESOTA

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Unlike Marcus Morris, the 2014-15 Rookie of the Year was able to answer a few questions on Twitter.

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JEFF WITHEY, UTAH

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Forget Phoenix: Marcus Morris ready for expanded role with Detroit

Vacationing with his twin brother and teammate Markieff Morris last week, Marcus Morris abruptly learned Phoenix had traded him to Detroit.

Caught off guard by the news then, Marcus appeared over the transaction that split up the Suns’ twin tandem when the Pistons introduced their newest player at a Friday afternoon press conference.

“At the same time it’s a business,” said Marcus, joining the third organization of his four-year NBA career. “Forget Phoenix. I’m here in Detroit and I’m ready to get started. I have high expectations of myself and I’m just ready to get to work. You’ll see.”

The Morris twins, of course, starred together at Kansas before leaving school one year early to enter the 2011 NBA Draft. The Suns took Markieff 13th overall, and Marcus went next in the first round, to Houston.

During his first appearance as a member of the Pistons, Marcus admitted he never settled in with the Rockets, because he always thought he would end up in Phoenix, with his brother. He was right. The Suns reunited the Morrii in 2013 via a trade. Marcus assumed he and Markieff would remain teammates for the foreseeable future.

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Wearing a Detroit Bad Boys cap, Marcus reflected on the business move that sent him away from his brother.

“I mean, things change, situations change,” he said. “I’m a basketball player, I’m a man, so nobody’s gonna feel sorry for me — me going different places. So I just have to adjust and, you know, do my job.”

Asked during the press conference about playing on a different team than Markieff, Marcus simply responded: “Life goes on.”

Shortly after the Q and A, though, Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press got Marcus to open up more on the matter.

“Everybody knew how bad I wanted to play with my brother. Phoenix knew,” Marcus told the Free Press. “For them to trade me without consent or telling me was like a slap in the face, because of the contract I took from those guys and the money I took from them. I'm happy to be here. I'm a Piston. I'm a Bad Boy. I'm ready to get started.''

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy had a lot to do with Marcus feeling better about going to Detroit, where he’ll wear No. 13.

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“We said coming into the summer that our biggest priority was to get a starting small forward, and with this deal we think we’ve done that,” Van Gundy said.

In Phoenix this past season, Marcus started in 35 of his 81 appearances, but butted heads with coach Jeff Hornacek and only played 25.2 minutes a game — averaging 10.4 points and 4.8 rebounds while making 35.8% of his 3-pointers.

Upon welcoming Marcus to Detroit, Van Gundy told the 25-year-old forward the organization had significantly different plans for him.

“We were really, really happy that this (trade) was available,” the Pistons coach said. “We think Marcus is at a point in his career where he’s already established himself as a very good player, but now with an increased opportunity we think he’s got a chance to really blossom into even more than we’ve seen so far.”

Not only does Van Gundy want Marcus to mentor incoming lottery pick Stanley Johnson, of Arizona, but he expects the 6-foot-9 forward to play a large role in the offense, with big man Andre Drummond and point guard Reggie Jackson.

“I’ll probably have more opportunities than I had in Phoenix, so I’m definitely looking forward to that part,” Marcus said.

In Detroit, he might be able to catch up with the production of twin brother Markieff, who averaged 17.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals for the Suns while starting all 82 games in the 2014-15 season.

But it sounds as if the twins aren’t expecting Markieff to stick around in Phoenix much longer, either — which could stem from the brothers’ alleged involvement in an aggravated assault, a charge to which they pleaded not guilty.

“I hope he does well wherever he’s at,” Marcus said, “if it’s Phoenix or wherever.”


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Phoenix splits up Morris twins, trades Marcus to Detroit

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris look to the bench during an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris look to the bench during an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

Twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris might have played their final NBA game as teammates.

Although Phoenix did the former Kansas stars a favor by trading for Marcus in 2013 and signing both of them to extensions prior to the 2014-15 season, with free agency in full swing, the Suns reportedly decided to split the twins up in order to chase the top available player.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who breaks almost every NBA story out there, reported Thursday afternoon Phoenix agreed to move Marcus and two other Suns to Detroit for — of all things — a second-round draft pick in 2020. Obviously, that wasn’t the organization’s end game. Wojnarowski reported Phoenix agreed on the deal to clear cap space as it tries to sign power forward LaMarcus Aldridge.

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Breaking up the Morris brothers likely has nothing to do with Marcus’s caught-on-TV shouting match with Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, but the twins’ alleged involvement in a felony aggravated assault case in Phoenix probably didn’t inspire the franchise to remain invested in the young forwards, who are 25 years old headed into their fifth season in the NBA.

Obviously, this move won’t sit well with the Morris twins (or the Morrii, if you prefer), and we’ll certainly hear more on that front once all the summer movement settles. In the meantime, Markieff expressed his shock via Twitter.

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If he isn’t happy with Phoenix’s management, he may not have to worry about any awkward exchanges in the near future. Wojnarowski also reported the Suns could be working on another trade involving their leftover Morris.

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So try to keep up with the mayhem that is free agency season, and remain on the lookout for more Woj-bombs. Markieff could be moved to Dallas in the time it takes to type 140 characters.

Markieff, the ideal stretch-4 for the NBA, has experienced more success in the league than Marcus to date. But Marcus, who played both small forward and power forward with the Suns, has played in all but one game over the past two seasons, started 35 this past year and averaged 10.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 25.2 minutes in what proved to be his final campaign with the Suns.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Pistons have Marcus, Danny Granger, lottery pick Stanley Johnson, Quincy Miller, Ersan Ilyasova and Anthony Tolliver as their forwards. So starting at the 3 or 4 spot wouldn’t be out of the question for Marcus in Detroit. Or he could become a valuable sixth man.

No doubt Marcus hates this business move right now, but it could actually benefit his career down the road if he makes the most of it. He’ll just have to find a new roommate.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Marcus Morris making strides in Phoenix, too

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris (15) makes a shot over Orlando Magic's Andrew Nicholson (44) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris (15) makes a shot over Orlando Magic's Andrew Nicholson (44) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Years from now, when people look back at Markieff Morris’s NBA career, the 2014-15 season just might stand out as the one in which he shed the label of role player and established himself as one of the more skilled big forwards in the Western Conference.

But his twin brother and Phoenix teammate Marcus is making serious strides this season, too.

2014-15 Morrii stats (through 74 games) PPG FG% 3% FT% RPG APG BPG SPG TOPG MPG
Markieff Morris 15.6 .466 .323 .757 6.0 2.2 0.5 1.3 2.1 31.4
Marcus Morris 10.6 .441 .368 .619 4.6 1.6 0.2 0.7 0.9 24.9

The real breakthrough game for Marcus — as referenced by Ben York at Suns.com — came back in February against Utah. Subbing in off the bench, he put up a career-high 34 points and a then-career-high 12 rebounds. Marcus converted 11 of his 17 field goal tries and nailed 5 of 7 3-pointers.

"He was unstoppable," proud brother Markieff said afterward.

It marked the first time a Suns player produced at least 30 points and 10 boards off the bench since Danny Manning — one of his coaches at Kansas — had 35 points and 10 rebounds in November of 1997.

York wrote the explosion served as a confirmation of what many thought about Marcus’s potential.

More recently, the less heralded Morrii has scored in double figures in 7 of his last 8 games, including 5 straight outings — a first for him this season. In that 8-game stretch, he’s averaging 15.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists, and shooting 44.4% from the floor and 32.7% from 3-point range (just 50% from the foul line).

His playing time has increased of late due to some injury problems for the Suns, and Marcus hasn’t forgotten that with his contributions.

“It’s not really about me,” Morris told Suns.com. “It’s about what coach needs and what the team needs. We have a lot of talent on this team and we’re fighting to get into the playoffs.

“We all have to step our game up and stick together.”

Phoenix (38-36), which lost a critical matchup with Oklahoma City (42-32) Sunday night, currently sits outside of the playoff picture in the West, in 10th place. The Suns have lost 3 straight games and have just 8 games left to try and surpass both New Orleans (39-34) and the Thunder for the final postseason berth available.

“He’s been big for us,” Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said of Marcus. “With some of the guys injured, we’ve needed that boost in scoring and energy. He’s hit some big shots and starting to find a rhythm. He’s been one of the more consistent guys the last couple weeks and we’ll need that in these final (eight) games.”

Clearly, Hornacek respects Marcus, even if they had an in-game disagreement earlier this season.

Do the Suns have a run in them? Well, their end-of-season schedule is pretty brutal, featuring at least seven playoff teams and both regular-season conference champions.

Phoenix's final regular-season games are: at Portland (47-25), at Golden State (60-13), vs. Utah (32-41), at Atlanta (55-18), at Dallas (45-29), at New Orleans (39-34), at San Antonio (47-26) and vs. the Los Angeles Clippers (49-25).

If the Suns squeeze into the playoffs after that, the Morris twins' reputations will continue taking off.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Fresh look at Morris twins’ journey to KU, NBA

Anyone with a passing interesting KU basketball has heard the story of the Morris twins.

There's Marcus and Markieff's unique bond on and off the court. The fact that they play for the same NBA team, the Phoenix Suns. The shared house, bank account and tattoos. And, of course, F.O.E.

Luckily, with the Morrii, there's always more. This week, SBNation.com posted a fresh, 10-minute look at the twins. The video includes interviews with the pair, their mother and their coaches — including "mean stepfather" Bill Self.

It's a fun watch, but Self's quotes about pushing the twins' buttons pushes it over the top:

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2014-15 season outlook: Marcus and Markieff Morris

Hunker down, get hydrated and tell your loved ones you will see them next spring.

Hopefully that’s not your mindset, but people should be warned: The at times seemingly never-ending NBA regular season is at hand.

The first handful of games tipped off Tuesday, marking the start of the 82-game grind.

Thankfully for us, all we have to do is sit back, watch and enjoy. To make sure you’re fully prepared for the 2014-15 campaign, we’ll be rolling out a season outlook for each former Kansas University player who currently calls The Association home.

Marcus and Markieff Morris — Phoenix Suns

Marcus: 6-foot-9 Small forward | Fourth season

Markieff: 6-foot-10 Power forward | Fourth season

Phoenix Suns forward Marcus Morris, left, congratulates his twin brother, Markieff, after he scored against the Sacramento Kings during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, April 16, 2014. The Suns won 104-99.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Phoenix Suns forward Marcus Morris, left, congratulates his twin brother, Markieff, after he scored against the Sacramento Kings during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, April 16, 2014. The Suns won 104-99.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Marcus 2013-14 numbers: 82 games | 22.0 minutes | 9.7 points | 3.9 rebounds | 44.2 FG% | 38.1 3-pt% | 76.1 FT%

Markieff 2013-14 numbers: 81 games | 26.6 minutes | 13.8 points | 6.0 rebounds | 48.6 FG% | 31.5 3-pt% | 79.2 FT%

When twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris left KU for the NBA in 2011, it seemed unlikely they would ever be able to call each other teammates again.

But now it looks like they could spend the prime of their careers — if not longer — together. Phoenix signed the Morris bros. to four-year contract extensions just before the start of training camp, meaning they will (barring a trade of one or both of them) share the same Suns locker room through at least the end of the 2018-19 season.

At the press conference announcing their new deals, the Philadelphia natives showed their excitement about spending the foreseeable future in the desert.

Said Marcus: “From the day I got traded here, it just felt like it was right.”

Markieff said neither of them were even thinking about contracts when Phoenix approached them about locking them up.

“We were just getting ready for the season. It kind of hit us and came out of nowhere, actually,” Markieff added.

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) shoots over Flamengo forward Walter Herrmann (1) of Argentina, in the second quarter during an NBA preseason basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) shoots over Flamengo forward Walter Herrmann (1) of Argentina, in the second quarter during an NBA preseason basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

After making a run at the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season, Markieff (13.8 points, 6.0 rebounds in his third year) won’t be eligible for that hardware this time around. Coach Jeff Hornacek wisely moved the big man into the starting five, where Markieff can play a stretch-power forward or even a stretch-center spot, knocking down jumpers when Phoenix’s trio of explosive guards — Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas — attack the paint.

That means Markieff could put himself in the hunt for another award: Most Improved Player. More minutes and better stats are ahead for him.

Phoenix Suns forward Marcus Morris, top, grabs a rebound away from Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Phoenix Suns forward Marcus Morris, top, grabs a rebound away from Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Then again, maybe he’ll have to fight off Marcus for that honor, because he could end up as a starter for the Suns, too.

Marcus averaged 9.7 points and 3.9 rebounds last season in 4.6 fewer minutes a game than his twin brother last season. But Marcus started five games for Phoenix in the preseason, he and Markieff work extremely well as a tandem, and his only competition for minutes at small forward comes from P.J. Tucker, and rookie T.J. Warren. The one player who could eat away at his minutes is two-guard Gerald Green, because Phoenix figures to fly up and down the floor and use smaller lineups.

So what do we expect out of The Morrii for the 2014-15 season?

Career numbers from each of them, for one thing. The twins figure to have even more confidence after inking those new deals and they mesh well with Phoenix’s style/strengths.

The Suns won 48 games last season and missed the playoffs. That’s crazy. That’s also life in the Western Conference. You could easily argue that all eight teams who finished ahead of Phoenix last year — San Antonio, Oklahoma City, L.A. Clippers, Houston, Portland, Golden State, Memphis and Dallas — are capable of doing so again.

But if the Morris twins and the rest of the Suns stay healthy and one of those other teams suffers some kind of blow, there is at least one playoff berth for the taking. Or Phoenix just keeps getting better and supplants Memphis or Dallas. You never know.


’Hawks in the NBA 2014-15 season outlooks:

• Cole Aldrich — Knicks

Darrell Arthur — Nuggets

Tarik Black — Rockets

Mario Chalmers — Heat

Nick Collison — Thunder

Joel Embiid — 76ers

Drew Gooden — Wizards

Xavier Henry — Lakers

Kirk Hinrich — Bulls

Ben McLemore — Kings


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Pre-game surprise rattles Thomas Robinson

Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) reacts after he was called for a foul against San Antonio Spurs' Tiago Splitter, right, of Brazil, during the second half of Game 2 of a Western Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series, Thursday, May 8, 2014, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 114-97. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) reacts after he was called for a foul against San Antonio Spurs' Tiago Splitter, right, of Brazil, during the second half of Game 2 of a Western Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series, Thursday, May 8, 2014, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 114-97. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

You think Thomas Robinson looks upset in the above photo from Portland's 114-97 Game 2 loss at San Antonio Thursday night?

If only cameras had been in the locker room before the game.

That's when Robinson ran into something far scarier than Tim Duncan. He saw a snake in his locker-room stall.

Joel Odom of The Oregonian got the details from Robinson himself.

"It took a couple minutes for everybody to believe me. 'There’s a snake in my locker.' But everybody thought I was playing, until they came over and looked for ourselves. And then he told us to get away from it, it was a rattlesnake. "

Robinson's initial reaction?

"I screamed, jumped, yelled, all that."

His teammate, Mo Williams, seemed braver than the other Blazers in the locker room at the time. He posted a photo of the rattler to Instagram.

http://instagram.com/p/nwOSxRnfSA/

Reporters asked Robinson after the fact what the snake looked like, and he had the perfect description:

"Black and white. Spurs."

Robinson went on to score two points and grab two rebounds in 14 minutes after the pre-game scare. Portland, down 2-0 in the series, plays host to San Antonio on Saturday (9:30 p.m., ESPN).


Chalmers a steady component for Miami

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) shoots over Brooklyn Nets' Deron Williams (8), Joe Johnson (7), Paul Pierce (34) and Kevin Garnett (2) in the first half of Game 1 in an Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) shoots over Brooklyn Nets' Deron Williams (8), Joe Johnson (7), Paul Pierce (34) and Kevin Garnett (2) in the first half of Game 1 in an Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

In the Jayhawk vs. Jayhawk Eastern Conference semifinals — also known as Brooklyn vs. Miami — Mario Chalmers' Heat put Paul Pierce's Nets in a 2-0 hole Thursday with a 94-82 victory.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uh-C5UtzLCg

Though Chalmers (11 points, 5 assists) was outscored by Pierce (13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists), Miami's sixth-year guard has to be feeling better about his team's chances of moving on to the conference finals — especially with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on his side.

Chalmers doesn't have the name power of the Heat's Big Three, but he has been in the starting lineup in every game he's played during the previous three regular seasons for the back-to-back NBA champions.

Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel wrote about Chalmers' consistency following Game 2 of the series. His biggest accomplishment in this one might have been his role in holding Nets guard Deron Williams scoreless (0-for-9 in 37 minutes).

"I just provide all I can for my teammates. My main focus this year was just being a consistent player. I think I've done a pretty good job with that. My teammates trusted me. The coaching staff trusted in me."

Bosh said the Heat need Chalmers in that role, and appreciate what he brings.

"When Rio is playing well, we're tough to beat. He's just that fourth or fifth guy who you can't leave. When he's controlling his tempo, doing his job, making open shots, it's really all uphill for us."

Game 3 is Saturday at Brooklyn (7 p.m., ABC).


McLemore planning on busy offseason

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (16) slam dunks in front of New Orleans Pelicans guard Anthony Morrow (3) and forward Darius Miller (2) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, March 31, 2014. The Kings won 102-97. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (16) slam dunks in front of New Orleans Pelicans guard Anthony Morrow (3) and forward Darius Miller (2) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, March 31, 2014. The Kings won 102-97. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The 2014 NBA Playoffs are in full effect as eight of the league's 30 teams still have dreams of hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy come June.

For most of the league, though, it's already summertime.

Trying to reach the playoffs himself one day, Sacramento shooting guard Ben McLemore hasn't stopped working on his game while returning to Lawrence, where he played one season for Kansas.

None by Ben McLemore

But he's also in town to get in some off-court work, toward completing his degree.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-rDGbVdv9w

McLemore, drafted seventh by the Kings last summer, didn't receive any votes for the NBA's Rookie of the Year award, won by Philadelphia's Michael Carter-Williams, the 11th overall pick in 2013.

Sacramento general manager Pete D'Alessandro addressed the 21-year-old shooting guard's first season — 82 games, 55 starts, 8.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 37.6% shooting, 32% from 3-point range — in a recent Q & A.

“I think Ben had a very common rookie year. His performance is something we see a lot from guys like him. I think we saw it early on and he stepped up quickly and played well, hit somewhat of a wall and now you see later on he’s getting there. If you took the beginning and end of this season and put them together, you’d look at him and go, ‘Hey, those are pretty decent looking numbers.’ I think it’s common when you have a young guy who’s played a year of college and steps into that starting position. It’s a lot to ask. We have three high-scoring pieces on a team. How do you step up and be that fourth guy? It’s tough."

To D'Alessandro's point, McLemore's numbers fluctuated throughout his first year:

• November: 9.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 39.3% FGs, 36.4% 3s in 23.2 minutes

• December: 8.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 37.6% FGs, 35.1% 3s in 28.2 minutes

• January: 5.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 35.1% FGs, 29.3% 3s in 19.7 minutes

• February: 6.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 30.1% FGs, 23.5% 3s in 25.1 minutes

• March: 10.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 42.7% FGs, 32.8% 3s in 31.4 minutes

• April: 13.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 39.1% FGs, 31.6% 3s in 37.3 minutes

The rookie's confidence began growing late in the season, after Sacramento traded away Marcus Thornton, and re-inserted McLemore into the starting lineup.

D'Alessandro, it seems from the Q & A, remains impressed with McLemore — even if he didn't have the kind of rookie year Carter-Williams or Orlando's Victor Oladipo (the No. 2 overall pick) did.

“I’ve said this from the beginning of the year, the guy works like no other young guy works. He and Ray (McCallum, another 2013-14 rookie) together, I really give them a lot of credit for their work ethic. If you have talent, athleticism, and that work ethic – which he does – I think it’s a recipe for success. I really look forward to what has yet to come for him. I’ve been very happy with Ben. I’ve said it all year long, and I stand by it.”

Clearly that work ethic is already being put to use. In a quote from CowbellKingdom.com, the young guard described how the 82-game grind of his first NBA season shaped his plan of attack going forward.

“Just coming in the league, I’ve seen so much playing against these different type of caliber guys every night, just seeing what I need to work on. It definitely helped me (realize), ‘Ok, I need to work on this, this summer.’”


Markieff Morris snubbed in Sixth Man voting?

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) drives as Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph (50) and Tayshaun Prince (21) defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 14, 2014, in Phoenix. The Grizzlies won 97-91. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) drives as Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph (50) and Tayshaun Prince (21) defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 14, 2014, in Phoenix. The Grizzlies won 97-91. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Once the NBA announced Los Angeles Clippers gaurd Jamal Crawford as the 2013-14 Sixth Man of the Year, it didn't take long for someone to pose the question: Why not Markieff Morris?

That someone was Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic, who covers the Phoenix Suns and used his ballot to vote Morris as the league's top reserve.

Coro's case against Crawford stems from the fact he started 24 games for the Clippers in the regular season, and the Suns beat writer said Morris or Chicago's Taj Gibson were more deserving.

Morris had plenty going for him, and Coro provides the evidence. Among bench players (the 6-foot-10 power forward served as a backup in all 81 games he played), Morris scored the most points (1,115) had the most double-doubles (11), was fourth in rebounds per game (6.0), fifth in points per game (13.8), sixth in field-goal percentage (48.6), and even seventh in steals per game (0.85).


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

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Morris twins key players in Suns’ turnaround

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) tries to get off a shot over San Antonio Spurs' Matt Bonner (15) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) tries to get off a shot over San Antonio Spurs' Matt Bonner (15) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

In a perfect NBA world, the powers that be would allow the top 16 teams in the league to duke it out in the playoffs to decide the championship.

Unfortunately for the fans, that postseason utopia doesn't exist. If it did, Phoenix, which went 48-34 in the 2013-14 regular season, would have easily made the playoffs. Instead, the Suns, who play in the deeper Western Conference, have to watch the action on TV with the rest of us.

When the season ended prematurely for Phoenix, Matt Petersen of Suns.com began offering a series of season reviews on each of the franchise's players.

A bench star in the Suns' entertaining campaign, Markieff Morris emerged as a legit NBA player in his third year — 13.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 48.6% FGs, 31.5% 3s in 26.6 minutes.

As far as the 24-year-old power forward's highlight of the year, according to the Suns' site, that came in November, against the back-to-back NBA champion Miami Heat. Morris turned Chris "Birdman" Andersen into a YouTube victim after making on-ball defender Rashard Lewis look even worse.

First-year Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said Morris comes off the bench and makes the offense flow smoothly.

“We need Markieff’s energy, scoring in the post on guys. It keeps us from shooting nothing but jump shots. The other guys can post up some, but consistently, we can go to him five, six, seven times and then they have to start figuring out what to do with him. He kicks it out and we get good stuff. He allows us to play that inside-out game that not a lot of our other guys give us.”

According to the Bright Side of the Sun blog, Morris, who led the league with 11 double-doubles off the bench, earned an A on his season report card.


Marcus an important Suns backup, too

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris (15) dunks as teammate Ish Smith (3) pumps his fist as the Indiana Pacers defense of Paul George (24), Roy Hibbert (55), David West (21) and Lance Stephenson look around during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Pacers 124-100. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris (15) dunks as teammate Ish Smith (3) pumps his fist as the Indiana Pacers defense of Paul George (24), Roy Hibbert (55), David West (21) and Lance Stephenson look around during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Pacers 124-100. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Markieff wasn't the only Morris twin helping Phoenix reverse its fortunes this season. Marcus played nearly just as big a role, also off the Suns' bench.

In his first full season playing alongside Markieff in the NBA (Marcus began his career in Houston), he averaged 9.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 22.0 minutes. Marcus shot 44.2% from the floor and 38.1% from 3-point land.

Suns.com's Petersen deemed the following dunk — on San Antonio's Aron Baynes — the play of the year for Marcus.

But Marcus proved just as deadly spotting up behind the 3-point line. He hit 99 from deep (a career high for the third-year forward) on 260 tries. Hornacek said Marcus needed that weapon in his repertoire.

“He had that [midrange ability] in college. He’s developed the outside game, the deep three, since he’s been in the pros. That’s kind of his strength.”


Aldrich spent most of season at end of bench

New York Knicks' Cole Aldrich plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in Minneapolis. The Knicks won 118-106. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

New York Knicks' Cole Aldrich plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in Minneapolis. The Knicks won 118-106. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Drafted in 2010, Cole Aldrich has yet to produce a career-changing season to put him on the NBA map.

Since his arrival in the league, the 6-11 center never has averaged more than 11.7 minutes with a team in a season (and that came in 15 games for Sacramento after a mid-season trade), nor more than 3.3 points (also in 15-game Sactown stint).

In 2013-14, with New York, Aldrich averaged 7.2 minutes, 2.0 points and 2.8 rebounds in 46 games.

Charlie Widdoes took a different kind of look at Aldrich's fourth year for the Knicks' website. Projected over 36 minutes, Aldrich would have averaged a double-double, with 10 points and 14.1 rebounds.

And, as Widdoes points out, Aldrich set a career high with 16 rebounds and scored 13 points in the Knicks' season finale, when he played 40 minutes.

Said Aldrich:

"The biggest thing is staying ready. You never know when your name's going to be called."

He'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Aldrich's former coach in NYC, Mike Woodson, who was fired after the season, praised the still young big man for his work.

"He's earned the right to be on somebody's ball club."


Tweetworthy

• Tuesday was a historic day in the NBA, with commissioner Adam Silver issuing a lifetime ban to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling after he made racist comments in a taped conversation.

Miami guard Mario Chalmers, like a number of players around the league, complimented the new commish's handling of the situation via Twitter.

None by Mario Chalmers

• Elsewhere, it looks like Ben McLemore is fully embracing the joys of the offseason.

None by Ben McLemore


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

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