NBA Trade Deadline: Phoenix Suns Deal Markieff Morris To Washington Wizards

Dec 4, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) dribbles past Washington Wizards guard Jared Dudley (1) during the second quarter at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 4, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) dribbles past Washington Wizards guard Jared Dudley (1) during the second quarter at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

The Phoenix Suns have traded Markieff Morris to the Washington Wizards at the 2016 NBA Trade Deadline.

In a move that’s been preordained in the stars since Markieff Morris first demanded a trade last summer following the departure of his brother Marcus Morris, the Phoenix Suns have traded their embattled power forward.

As first reported by The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania, the Suns have dealt Keef to the Washington Wizards for Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair and a protected 2016 first round pick.

According to the Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro, the first-rounder will be top-9 protected.

The players being sent to Phoenix may not seem like much for the disenfranchised contingent of Suns fans who have been eagerly awaiting this day, but the real score here is the first round pick. Though Woj had previously reported that Suns general manager Ryan was holding out for a first-rounder and a young player, that may have been a negotiation tactic to start high before settling for a more reasonable ransom.

Even though the 2016 NBA Draft class does not project to be particularly deep, this pick is potentially valuable. The Wizards currently have the best odds at the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft, and if that held, it would give McDonough another lottery pick.

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For all the questions about personnel that have stemmed from his trades, McDonough has been superb in the draft, selecting Alex Len, Archie Goodwin, T.J. Warren and Devin Booker in the last three years — arguably the team’s young core moving forward.

Humphries is averaging 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds in 16.6 minutes per game this season, shooting 40.5 percent from the floor and 34.3 percent from three-point range on 2.4 attempts per game. Blair has posted a meager 2.1 points and 2.0 rebounds in 7.5 minutes per game, but his $2 million salary for next season is non-guaranteed.

Humphries’ $4.6 million salary for the 2016-17 season is also non-guaranteed. This move reaffirms the notion that Phoenix will be tanking the rest of the season and may be committing to a developing youth movement with 10 first-rounders over the next six years.

For Washington, this deal accomplishes the team’s goal of upgrading the power forward spot and reunited Keef with former Suns teammate Marcin Gortat. Losing a potential lottery pick hurts, but the Wizards remain dedicated to making the playoffs since they’re only three games out of the eighth seed at the moment.

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Morris’ reputation as a head case is well known by now, which made his trade value hard to peg. He threw a public fit when the Suns traded his brother, mailed in the first part of the season, ultimately got benched, threw a towel at his head coach, started playing well once Jeff Hornacek was fired and got in a sideline altercation with teammate Archie Goodwin.

But in terms of pure on-court value, Morris is still a very good player and at a bargain value of $24 million over the next three years, he still gives the Wizards room to make moves in free agency. However, this probably won’t be the move that brings Kevin Durant to D.C., especially since the Wizards will need to devote a chunk of their cap space to re-signing Bradley Beal.

That being said, KD was probably a pipe dream anyway, and Keef is a great player who will benefit from playing with John Wall and can help the Wizards with their playoff push — despite what his season averages of 11.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game on .397/.289/.717 shooting splits might say.

Now that he’s been freed from this uncomfortable situation in Phoenix, you can expect him to have something of a revenge season along the lines of his first five games under interim Earl Watson: 20.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game on 44.9 percent shooting. If he can keep his head on straight in a more positive situation, he’ll be a tremendous addition at 26 years old.

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The risk is on Washington’s side, and some Suns supporters were probably hoping for a larger or sexier return, but both sides emerge from this deal as potential winners.