Posts tagged with Markieff Morris

Counting down the most interesting KU players to watch this NBA season — Part 3

As the 82-game, nearly six-month-long marathon known as the NBA regular season begins this week, the league’s 30 team rosters feature 15 players from the University of Kansas.

In order to get KU basketball fans up to speed on what they should expect from the Jayhawks representing their beloved program at the highest level, we decided to rank KU’s current pros, counting down from No. 15 to No. 1, in terms of which players will be the most interesting to follow in the months to come.

We now arrive at the cream of the KU crop. You could argue where each of the following players would fall in the rankings, but these are the five most talented Jayhawks employed by the NBA right now. Remember, this isn’t a list of who’s best, though. We’re talking about which players you’re going to make a point to watch when you see their team is playing on TV (or on your tablet or phone or laptop).

— Part 1: Numbers 15 through 11

— Part 2: Numbers 10 through 6

No. 5: Markieff Morris — Washington Wizards

Washington Wizards' Markieff Morris plays against the Cleveland Cavaliers during an NBA preseason basketball game Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Washington Wizards' Markieff Morris plays against the Cleveland Cavaliers during an NBA preseason basketball game Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

The starting power forward on a team expecting to make the Eastern Conference Playoffs, Markieff Morris seems poised for the best season of his NBA career.

Markieff (angrily) began 2015-16 playing for Phoenix, the organization that had just split him up from twin brother Marcus by trading his sibling away to Detroit. The Suns finally moved Markieff to Washington before the trade deadline this past February, but you got the sense he didn’t quite reach his full offensive capacity with the Wizards in the weeks that followed.

Upon arriving in D.C., Markieff certainly wasn’t bad. He averaged 12.4 points and 5.9 rebounds and shot 46.7% from the floor (far better than his 39.7% in Phoenix in the 37 games leading up to the move). But it’s easy to see him improving upon all his numbers during his upcoming sixth pro season. He’s not entering a team late in a campaign. The Wizards have a new player-friendly head coach in Scott Brooks. Markieff now has a better feel for playing with all-star point guard John Wall and should help the Wizards stretch the floor while center Marcin Gortat plays in the post.

Washington advanced in the playoffs two straight springs before taking a step backward and missing the postseason in 2016. If Markieff makes them better by maximizing his talents he will gain the sort of league-wide respect he has yet to attain.

No. 4: Marcus Morris — Detroit Pistons

Detroit Pistons' Marcus Morris (13) tries to go to the basket against Toronto Raptors' DeMarre Carroll, center, and Jonas Valanciunas during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Detroit Pistons' Marcus Morris (13) tries to go to the basket against Toronto Raptors' DeMarre Carroll, center, and Jonas Valanciunas during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

You never know how a season will play out, but as 2016-17 begins, it seems Detroit, the team Marcus Morris plays for, is considered more of a sure thing in the East than Washington, current home of his brother, Markieff.

The twins play similar complimentary roles for their respective franchises but Marcus, unlike his bro, enters his sixth year in the league on the heels of his most impressive season since the duo left Kansas. A reserve the vast majority of his time in Phoenix, Marcus became a starter with the Pistons and responded by producing the best numbers of his career: 14.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists. He also shot 43.4% from the floor and made 108 3-pointers (36.2%).

Detroit point guard and leading scorer Reggie Jackson is out with an injury for a few weeks, so Detroit could start slowly, but some around the league think the Pistons could end up being one of the top three teams in the East not named Cleveland. Should Detroit pull that off, Morris’ role in that rise would be hard to ignore.

No. 3: Ben McLemore — Sacramento Kings

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, right, drives to the basket as Los Angeles Clippers guard Raymond Felton tries to fight through a screen during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. The Clippers won 92-89. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, right, drives to the basket as Los Angeles Clippers guard Raymond Felton tries to fight through a screen during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. The Clippers won 92-89. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Both of the Morris twins are more accomplished in the NBA than Ben McLemore, but the fourth-year shooting guard is entering the most important season of his professional career.

McLemore’s name has come up in Sacramento trade rumors for the past year of so, and that’s a trend that figures to continue in the weeks and months ahead. The Kings, per usual, have a new head coach, Dave Joerger. Just how McLemore fits into Joerger’s plans remains to be seen.

Early signs indicate McLemore, who averaged a career-low 7.8 points in 2015-16, won’t start for Sacramento any more, with Arron Afflalo playing 2-guard on the first unit. Can McLemore thrive as scoring sixth man? Are the Kings just diminishing his role because they plan on trading him away at the first possible chance?

Once next July gets here, McLemore will be a restricted free agent — regardless of which team he suits up for to close the season. So now would be the ideal time to make a leap in production and 3-point shooting (34.6% for his career). Maybe a change in scenery would help him reach that untapped potential.

No. 2: Andrew Wiggins — Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins (22) dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. Minnesota won 124-117 in overtime. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins (22) dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. Minnesota won 124-117 in overtime. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Already a highlight Vine waiting to happen, third-year wing Andrew Wiggins’ career trajectory should make another explosive leap upward this year as a rising star for the league darling Minnesota Timberwolves.

In his second season, Wiggins broke the 20-point barrier for his scoring average, putting up 20.7 a night, while complimenting future superstar big man Karl-Anthony Towns. We shouldn’t expect him to take that average to 25 this year or anything crazy. But you’d like to see him improve his shooting percentages: 48.6% on 2-pointers last year, and 30% from behind the 3-point line.

Assuming Wiggins can help those numbers out himself through shot selection and just natural improvement through development — the man hasn’t even turned 22 yet — he’s going to become a more dangerous offensive player in Year 3.

Even more fascinating, though, will be the impact new T’wolves head coach Tom Thibodeau has on Wiggins. A defensive guru, Thibodeau could transform the 6-foot-8, high-flying forward into a monster on defense. And the more stops Wiggins and company get on that end, the more chances Minnesota will have to get out in the open floor and finish fast breaks with Wiggins jams.

No. 1: Joel Embiid — Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid celebrates after scoring against the Miami Heat during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid celebrates after scoring against the Miami Heat during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Forget the qualification of Jayhawks in the league. Rookie center Joel Embiid is one of the most intriguing players in the NBA this season. Period. But you probably knew that before you clicked on this post.

For the love of all things basketball, injuries have deprived us all of watching Embiid’s crazy array of post moves and deft touch for more than two years. We’ve seen glimpses already in the preseason of the promise the big man from Cameroon showed in his abbreviated one-and-done season at Kansas.

Even though Philadelphia has limited Embiid’s minutes early on to make sure his foot problems don’t resurface, the early results have been spectacular.

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None by Philadelphia 76ers

None by Philadelphia 76ers

None by Philadelphia 76ers

He’s 7-foot-2. He can handle the ball. He can knock down jumpers. He can protect the rim. He has moves in the post to score over his defender. The potential for Embiid seems limitless. Then again, he should’ve been a rookie two years ago but his body didn’t allow it.

Can Embiid make it through a full season without suffering another major injury setback? If he does, his overall game and confidence will only skyrocket.

The coming months will determine where the Embiid story goes next. If he stays relatively healthy, he has as legit a shot as anyone at winning Rookie of the Year. And the seasons to come just might include all-star appearances, all-NBA teams and carrying a declining franchise back to its former glory.

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Markieff Morris speaks out against Kevin Durant joining Golden State

Washington Wizards' Markieff Morris (5) drives against Golden State Warriors' Andrew Bogut during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 29, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Washington Wizards' Markieff Morris (5) drives against Golden State Warriors' Andrew Bogut during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 29, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Though he plays in the Eastern Conference for a team that didn’t make the playoffs last season, Washington forward Markieff Morris didn’t mind sharing his thoughts on back-to-back Western Conference champion Golden State adding superstar Kevin Durant in free agency this summer.

When reporters prodded the former Kansas star on the NBA’s biggest news of the offseason, Morris didn’t hold back his criticism of Durant, sharing the opinion with some fans that the former MVP didn’t need to join forces with reigning back-to-back MVP Steph Curry and the Warriors, who just won a record 73 games in the regular season.

“I don’t think it’s right,” Morris began, in a video interview captured by Kyle Weidie of truthaboutit.net, who covers the Wizards. “But it is what it is.”

As reporters tried to get more out of Morris on the move that caught the entire NBA’s attention, he obliged, following up with his judgment of the situation.

“You don’t do that, man,” Morris said of Durant, Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green forming a super-team that appears destined to win the 2017 NBA title, or at the very least earn a rematch with LeBron James' Cavaliers.

Trying to put himself in KD’s Nikes, Morris explained he didn’t understand why Durant, who just lost to Golden State in the West finals with Oklahoma City, would then join forces with the Warriors.

Morris claimed there would have been a “fire inside” him to come back and beat Golden State next season.

“But a lot of guys are different,” Morris added. “ I just didn’t expect that from Durant. I know him a little bit, and I didn’t expect that.”

Watch Morris’ comments in their entirety below.

None by Kyle Weidie

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Mother’s Day a big holiday for Morris twins

Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris, front left, talks with his mother Angel Morris, from Clinton, Md., before an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Washington. Markieff just joined the team in a trade from the Phoenix Suns. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris, front left, talks with his mother Angel Morris, from Clinton, Md., before an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Washington. Markieff just joined the team in a trade from the Phoenix Suns. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

When Markieff Morris landed in Washington D.C. earlier this season via a trade from Phoenix, it didn’t only mean a better basketball situation for the former Kansas star.

The move also brought the fifth-year power forward much closer to his hometown of Philadelphia and his mother, Thomasine “Angel” Morris.

“It’s a great fit,” Angel said in a special Mother’s Day feature produced by Monumental Sports Network. “I’m from D.C.”

Markieff, now a lot closer geographically to his twin brother and former KU teammate Marcus (of Detroit), as well, agreed the Wizards are a much better fit for him than Phoenix, where he and his brother used to play before their relationship with the organization soured.

“I’m just excited to be able to play in front of my family and perform in front of them,” said Markieff, who averaged 12.4 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting 46.7% from the field in 27 games with Washington to close the year.

Angel’s support, Markieff explained, played a significant role in shaping the twins’ basketball careers.

“I hope that she’s proud,” Markieff said. “Everything we do is for her. I think she knows that. I just want to make her proud.”

Now that both of her sons play on the east coast, Angel said she tries to attend as many of their home games in Detroit and D.C. as possible.

“I just look at the schedule and figure out where I’m supposed to be,” Angel said. “If there’s a lot of games over there, I go there. If there’s a lot of games here, I go here. And I watch (on) TV in between.”

Of course, Angel, who Markieff described as a “tough lady,” began shaping her sons’ lives long before they became big-time basketball players.

Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris (5) defends Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 8, 2016, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris (5) defends Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 8, 2016, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Said Marcus: “Since I got to college she’s been heavy in basketball, but before then she was all about keeping us off the streets, keeping us in school, things like that.”

Just because the 26-year-old twins play in the NBA doesn’t mean they avoid receiving some occasional scolding from their mother. Markieff said she’s always there to encourage them, but also gets on them for any technical fouls they pick up throughout the season.

The twins likely get an earful of ‘What were you thinking?’ from Angel. Marcus had 12 techs this season, while Markieff got whistled for 11.

“Technical fouls, I don’t like,” Angel said. “I fight about (them) all the time.”

The twins’ admiration for their mother is clear — both said a perfect Mother’s Day gift for her might be a Range Rover. Markieff said Angel often leaves an imprint on the lives’ of everyone she meets, not just her sons.

As KU fans remember, that includes Thomas Robinson, whose mother, Lisa, died unexpectedly during the 2010-11 season, while Robinson was teammates with the Morris twins.

Brooklyn Nets forward Thomas Robinson, left, talks with Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris during pre game of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Brooklyn Nets forward Thomas Robinson, left, talks with Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris during pre game of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Robinson told Monumental Sports Network that Angel stepped in and tried to provide care in whatever way she could when he lost his mother.

“That’s just who she is in general,” Robinson explained. “That’s just her as a person. She meets you right now she’s gonna act like your mom and she’s gonna take care of you and make sure you’re fine.”

According to Marcus, Angel always has been a “team mom” or “community mom” in the twins’ lives.

Check out the entire video feature at Monumental Sports Network’s website.


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


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Morris twins detail their disappointment with how things turned out in Phoenix

Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris, right, drives against his twin brother, Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris, right, drives against his twin brother, Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris essentially found themselves living the dream. They had reached their boyhood goals of playing in the NBA. Not only that, they were doing so as teammates, with the Phoenix Suns.

It was just like their prep days and their three seasons at Kansas, except on the biggest basketball stage in the world. Pretty choice setup.

However, the Morris twins had no idea when they signed 4-year extensions with the Suns in 2014 neither would be playing with the franchise less than a year-and-a-half later.

As has been well documented, a number of issues in the year-plus that followed led to Phoenix first shipping 6-foot-9 Marcus off to Detroit this past offseason, and then sending 6-10 Markieff to Washington before the trade deadline this past week.

But the twins never have shared their side of the story in as much detail as they did for a story published this week by Bleacher Report. Longtime NBA reporter Ric Bucher provided an in-depth examination of both the Morris’ lives and the behind-the-scenes dealings that left their dream of playing as NBA teammates unsustainable.

Marcus told Bleacher Report there are some widespread misconceptions about his and his brother’s issues with Phoenix breaking up the twin tandem.

“Everybody thinking that we're upset because we don't get to play with each other," Marcus said. "Kieff can't deal with adversity? We're from north Philadelphia. This isn't adversity. This is betrayal."

Bucher reports the twins would prefer to traverse through the NBA as teammates, but the way Phoenix handled the split is actually what left them bewildered.

Detroit Pistons' Marcus Morris (13) drives past Milwaukee Bucks' Michael Carter-Williams (5) during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Detroit Pistons' Marcus Morris (13) drives past Milwaukee Bucks' Michael Carter-Williams (5) during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

"What bothers me most are two things," Marcus said. "I sat down with the owner (Robert Sarver) and we agreed guys were going to get paid more (than the twins got — Marcus $5 million/year, Markieff $8 million/year), but they told us, 'Don't get upset, we're a family, we're helping each other.' Everybody in this league is concerned about money. We were looking for stability and the chance to be part of something."

Marcus said he had no issue with Phoenix making a business decision, and moving him to create cap space to pursue 2015 free agent LaMarcus Aldridge. The twins didn’t understand why neither of them heard about the deal until after the fact.

"You build a relationship,” Marcus told Bucher, “you expect certain things."

As the feature details, the Morris twins have thrived by trusting people in basketball through the years, after a mentor took them under his wings to get them started in the sport and playing for Bill Self at Kansas. They assumed the basketball people around them in the NBA would also look out for their best interests, at least somewhat, particularly after they got the sense of a family-like situation in Phoenix.

Marcus (22) and Markieff Morris (21) celebrate a blocked dunk by Marcus against Oklahoma State during the first half on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Marcus (22) and Markieff Morris (21) celebrate a blocked dunk by Marcus against Oklahoma State during the first half on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

"For me to sign that contract, I was saying it was about being a part of something," Markieff told Bucher. "A team is more like a family; that's how I grew up. They're not just my teammates."

Bucher also reports the assault charges, which haven’t yet reached trial, on the twins will not hold up, according to “sources close to both the brothers and the (Suns).”

Markieff said he didn’t understand why the Suns didn’t give him and Marcus public support in the matter until the case got settled.

What’s more, former Suns teammates of the Morris twins spoke highly of them to Bleacher Report.

Gerald Green said: ”They're team-first guys. All they care about is the camaraderie."

According to Goran Dragic: ”I had a really good experience with both guys. Everything was fine when I was there. They were professional. Maybe something happened when I left, but I can't comment on that. They're just competitive guys and they want to win."

Of Markieff, P.J. Tucker offered this prior to the trade that sent the leftover twin to the Wizards: "He's one of the best teammates I've ever had. He still talks to guys, he still hangs out. No matter what the media says, he has been as professional as possible."

Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris, left, and Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris talk on the court after an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Washington. The Wizards won 98-86. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris, left, and Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris talk on the court after an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Washington. The Wizards won 98-86. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

As fate would have it, Markieff’s first game with the Wizards this past week came against Marcus’ Pistons. Washington won, while playing its new forward 22 minutes off the bench. Markieff shot 2-for-8 from the floor and missed both of his 3-point tries in a 6-point debut.

Marcus scored 9 points off 4-for-12 shooting in 36 minutes.

Markieff has seen similar usage in two more games with Washington since. He’s averaging 5.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in 21.3 minutes as D.C. incorporates him into its system and he gets used to his new surroundings.

Marcus, in his first season with the Pistons, has started all 56 games, and averages 13.5 points and 5.0 rebounds. He’s hitting just 30.1% of his 3-pointers and adding 2.5 assists.

Both twins are under contract through the end of the 2018-19 season, thanks to the deals they reached simultaneously with Phoenix. Perhaps they’ll reunite as teammates for the 2019-20 season. It’s safe to say that wouldn’t be in Phoenix.

— Read the entire Ric Bucher feature: Think You Know What the Morris Twins are All About? Think Again


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


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Markieff Morris finally gets his wish: a trade out of Phoenix

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) drives past Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Phoenix. The Rockets defeated the Suns 111-105. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) drives past Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Phoenix. The Rockets defeated the Suns 111-105. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Just as everyone figured, the NBA’s trade deadline did not pass Thursday afternoon without Phoenix shipping away disgruntled forward Markieff Morris.

The former Kansas star, who wore out his welcome with the Suns after the organization traded away his twin brother Marcus, got dealt East, to Washington, according to a report from Yahoo.

A 6-foot-10 forward drafted by Phoenix in 2011, Morris cost the Wizards a protected first-round pick and veteran backup forwards Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair.

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As detailed in the Yahoo report from Shams Charania, Morris has wanted out of Phoenix all season, and the Suns finally gave up on the talented 26-year-old stretch forward after the low lights of his season included throwing a towel at then-coach Jeff Hornacek and fighting with teammate Archie Goodwin during a timeout.

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Azcentral.com’s Paul Coro was on the scene Thursday afternoon when Morris left the Suns’ facility, reporting the new Wizard was “ready to move on.”

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The Suns were probably like: “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, or trip off your hoverboard thing in the parking lot.”

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Morris lands in Washington at least with a chance to contribute to a playoff team, which wasn’t going to happen in Phoenix (14-40). Although the Wizards (23-28) haven’t lived up to expectations this season, D.C. is just 3 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 31 games to play. Plus, the East is so jumbled, with the exception of clear-cut favorite Cleveland, that Washington, at 10th, is only 7 games back of third.

While Morris’ season numbers for 2015-16 — 11.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 39.7% shooting — don’t jump off the screen at you, much of that has to do with his volatile relationship with Hornacek. After the Suns got rid of their head coach, Morris received more of an opportunity in his final games with Phoenix. In February, Morris played 34.8 minutes a game, compared to 22.8 in January and 18.5 in December.

For interim Suns coach Earl Watson, Morris averaged 20.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.0 steals in five losses. He shot 44.8% from the floor and made 4 of his 12 3-pointers while essentially reminding other franchises that they should make a move to get him out of town.

Washington could use that kind of production in its front court, where coach Randy Wittman could easily start Morris at power forward or use him as a sixth man.

The Wizards, powered by All-Star point guard John Wall, should improve offensively almost immediately with Morris’ perimeter abilities complimenting starting center Marcin Gortat. Even better for Washington, it’s easy to see Wall and Morris becoming perfect partners in pick-and-pops and pick-and-rolls.

With Morris’ trade, Washington now turns into a more appealing team to watch for KU fans who follow the NBA. Morris joins veteran Drew Gooden and rookie Kelly Oubre Jr. as Jayhawks on the roster — though Wittman will surely ask much more of his new forward than those two.

The 34-year-old Gooden doesn’t play that much anymore: 12.4 minutes this season, with 3.2 points and 3.4 rebounds, deep off Washington’s bench.

The 20-year-old Oubre’s minutes (4.4 a game in February) went down headed into the All-Star break, too. On the year, he is getting just 11.9 minutes a game, contributing 3.8 points and 2.2 boards.


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


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Counting down the hours to a Markieff Morris trade

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris reacts to a call during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris reacts to a call during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Just when it seemed former Kansas star Markieff Morris might be settling into a functional existence with Phoenix, his anger once again got the best of him last week.

Morris, who made it clear this past summer he wanted the Suns to trade him and later threw a towel at then-Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek during a game, turned his frustrations toward a teammate during a timeout in the Suns’ home loss to Golden State before the All-Star break.

Caught on camera and spewed out across social media platforms, Morris first argued with Phoenix guard Archie Goodwin, then shoved him to the bench.

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What a nice reminder from Morris to the Phoenix front office that he is a disruptive presence. Though it might have been less damaging for him to just hold up a sign that read: Please trade me.

You’ve got to assume the Suns will gladly ship Morris away before Thursday’s trade deadline, even though Morris has played much better for Phoenix since the organization fired Hornacek and named Earl Watson the interim head coach.

In 5 games playing for Watson, Morris is averaging 20.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.0 steals. The fifth-year stretch forward hit 44.8% of his shots and 4 of 12 from 3-point range. Still, he capped that stretch with an on-court altercation with a teammate.

Obviously, Morris has the skills to help any number of teams. The question is, are other organizations willing to part with assets and/or players in order to attain someone with a history of giving his franchise headaches — remember, Markieff and twin brother Marcus were accused of assault in May of last year and that case has yet to be resolved in court.

It appears even some members of the Suns’ fan base have turned on the remaining Morris, who began angling for a way out of town when the team traded his brother to Detroit last summer.

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Where does that leave Phoenix and its disgruntled, yet talented forward? Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Suns want a young player and a first-round draft pick in return for Morris. The report also reveals Phoenix does not intend to bring Morris back next season.

Wojnarowski also shared at least one Eastern Conference contender, Toronto, isn’t interested in Morris.

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At this point, with the trade deadline getting closer by the second, it’s hard to rule out anything for Morris’ future — except, apparently, a trade to the Raptors. Morris might get traded while you’re reading this blog.

One potential landing spot for Morris could be Boston, according to csnne.com. Yahoo’s Chris Mannix predicted interest in the 6-foot-10 forward “is going to grow exponentially as we get closer to the trade deadline.”

The Celtics, unlike Phoenix, have a stable organization and, as the current No. 3 seed in the East, look like a team capable of winning a playoff series this spring.

LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers previously popped up in the trade rumor winds as a possible landing spot for Morris, but that idea seems to have died.

Keep your eyes on Twitter, though. We might see some news on Morris sooner than later, and it will be interesting to see what uniform he’ll be wearing the rest of the season.


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


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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.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

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