Washington Wizards Found Keeper In Markieff Morris

Washington Wizards Found Keeper In Morris

After I heard about the trade involving the Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns, I immediately became frustrated. Once again, Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld gave up an asset – a top nine protected first round pick – in exchange for a player virtually no one wanted.

The Suns wanted to get a first round pick for Markieff Morris and it didn’t seem like they would get a deal completed before the deadline. Most pundits, including myself, thought that Phoenix’s asking price was too high.

On the surface, Markieff Morris was probably worth a first round pick, especially if the team that was going to obtain him was in the playoff hunt.

Morris is scheduled to make $8 million annually, which will become incredibly cheap once the salary cap rises. Getting a 26-year-old, versatile forward for that much is certainly a bargain.

While his shooting numbers all declined with the Suns this season, Morris had all the tools to become a starting-caliber power forward on a winning team.

With that said, Morris came with a lot of baggage.

After the Suns traded his brother, Marcus Morris, to the Detroit Pistons, Markieff Morris became extremely spiteful and damaged his image. The twins agreed to re-sign with the Suns and were essentially promised that they had permanent homes in Phoenix. The Suns’ management obviously felt the need for a change and Morris wasn’t too happy.

Morris was involved in a number of altercations.

He threw a towel at former Suns head coach, Jeff Hornacek, and got into a shoving match with his teammate, Archie Goodwin.

Morris deservedly got the knucklehead label and teams were hesitant to acquire him, despite the skill-set and contract.

So, when the Washington Wizards acquired Morris, there were a number of solid reasons to be frustrated.

The trade was over a month ago, though, and we’ve had some time to assess Morris – both on and off the court.

Since the trade, Morris has quickly worked his way into Randy Wittman‘s starting lineup and he’s given Washington exactly what they were missing prior to the deal.

He’s spaced the floor much more than he did at Phoenix, he’s provided energy inside, and perhaps most importantly, he’s helped the Wizards become a better defensive team.

Washington no longer has to worry about mismatches at the four spot. Morris is capable of defending the likes of Kevin Love and Paul Millsap, which is something that Jared Dudley couldn’t do. When the Wizards are forced to switch, Morris has the foot speed that’s necessary to keep up with guards when necessary.

As several others have pointed out, Morris has kind of become a Nene-Dudley hybrid for the Washington Wizards.

He’s doing a little bit of everything for the Wizards. He’s rebounding, defending and he’s knocking down shots from the perimeter. When the offense has become stagnant, John Wall relies on Morris, who’s already become comfortable with the pick-and-pop game in Washington.

From the looks of it, the Washington Wizards might have gotten a steal with Morris. It would have been nice if Grunfeld had more protection on the first round pick, but given how cheap his contract is and how well he meshes with the core, the trade might actually work out.

Morris’ game compliments Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter very well. He’s only 26 and in the prime of his career. He’s increased his field goal percentage from less than 40 percent in Phoenix this season to roughly 47 percent in Washington. Needless to say, he’s fit in well.

Morris – for now – has been solid off the court as well.

A change of scenery was necessary and we can’t expect Morris to be something he isn’t. Washington needed a fiery player on the court and they got one in Morris. Now it’s just a matter of knowing when to contain himself and release the energy, which he’s done an okay job with in Washington – if that makes any sense.

To wrap things up, I’ll admit it: I was probably wrong about Markieff Morris. He’s been awesome in Washington. Grunfeld swung for the fences and he might’ve hit, but only time will tell.