BOSTON – Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris is looking for an exit strategy out of Arizona. The veteran wing has been miffed with the Suns ever since the team dealt his twin brother, Marcus, in order to clear enough salary-cap space to offer LaMarcus Aldridge a maximum contract last month.
Aldridge eventually chose the Spurs over the Suns, but the collateral damage lingered once Markieff was separated from his twin teammate. Morris told Philadelphia Enquirer last month that he would not start the season in Phoenix and doubled down on that declaration via a Twitter message on Thursday night.
— Keef Morris (@Keefmorris) September 4, 2015
Of course, Morris can talk all he wants, but he has no direct control over his future. Suns general manager Ryan McDonough is the man who gets to decide where Morris will play next season. The former Celtics assistant GM signed Morris to a four-year extension last year and that $32 million deal will expire in the summer of 2019.
Morris, earning just $8 million per year, is a steal for Phoenix in the face of a rising salary-cap, so McDonough is not just going to give the 6-foot-10 power forward away because he's unhappy.
If Morris gets moved, and there's no guarantee he will, it's going to have to be to a suitor with real assets. The former Jayhawk averaged a career-high 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds while starting 82 games last season, and it won't be easy for Phoenix to replace that kind of production.
Still, if you are looking for a team with trade chips, there's no better place to start in the NBA right now than Boston. Danny Ainge already has to cut at least one NBA-caliber player from the team's current roster after putting together a group that has 16 guaranteed contracts for next season.
The Celtics also have a logjam at multiple positions and could offer Phoenix an enticing mix of picks and players that would allow them to move on from a disgruntled Morris.
There remain obstacles to putting together any kind of deal though. Since Boston is over the salary cap and without trade exceptions, Ainge would need to send back close to Morris' $8.5 million salary in order to put together a feasible offer. Since several players on the Celtics roster remain on cheap rookie deals, it would likely take at least 2-3 players to make the salaries match up with the $8.5 million.
The other question the Celtics need to tackle before pursuing the fourth-year big man is whether Morris would be a strong fit in Brad Stevens' pace-and-space offense. If acquired, Morris would immediately become a top scorer for Boston in the frontcourt but his three-point shooting ability leaves much to be desired. He's a career 32.8 percent shooter from downtown, and his accuracy has gone down as he's hoisted up more attempts in recent seasons.
With that said, the Celtics should not be too picky about landing a 25-year-old who is locked up for the remainder of the decade. The team should keep tabs on his situation in Phoenix and potentially be ready to strike with an offer if McDonough elects to move on from the irritated starter prior to the start of the regular season.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.
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