Marcus Morris trade adds another future asset at low cost


If you were expecting the Phoenix Suns to acquire their next superstar before season’s end, you likely feel Marcus Morris and Hamed Haddadi are merely a lump of coal in your trade deadline stocking.

Although you would be right about Haddadi under any circumstance, the Suns’ acquisition of Keef’s twin seems to follow suit with the kind of moves the Suns made last offseason in that they used cap space to add a decent player albeit one who likely won’t change the trajectory of the franchise by any means.

This trade was a single at a time when many fans are waiting for the Suns to hit a grand slam — because they need to do just that just to get back to the precipice of the playoff picture.

However, there was no home run move on the table. With Rudy Gay now in Toronto, Josh Smith was the only kingpin left on the board, and let’s be honest, that never made sense.

How could the Suns be expected to pony up some youth and picks (exactly the kind of assets they need to keep) to acquire a player who may leave for nothing in a few months when they are playing for nothing right now? Sure, they would have an advantage signing him, but even that would require giving him a bad contract.

So a Smith trade was essentially a double negative since the Suns would lose precious youth/picks and then would have to give a max (or close to it) contract for a player who frankly isn’t a max player. If the Suns really want Smith, I’m glad they at least waited for the summer, so that they won’t pay in both dollars and assets.

Other than that, the one deal the Suns made (I hardly consider the Bassy trade anything since it was essentially a dump to open up more playing time for Marshall) gives the Suns one more asset to leverage in trade negotiations this summer. They have such a glut at the four that they could field an entire lineup with power forwards who deserve playing time next season in Scola, Frye, Beasley, and the Morris twins.

For now, it really doesn’t matter that the roster doesn’t make sense because it already didn’t make sense before the trade, and the rest of this season should just be about figuring out who fits where so the Suns can go into the offseason with a plan of who to move and which positions to upgrade.

I hope the Suns play the Morris’ together for some serious run because with their twin powers I could see them combining for a 1 + 1 = 3 kind of situation. Keef tweeted, “Can’t explain this feeling,” and the feeling I get is that we’ll find out very soon whether he deserves a spot in the Suns’ future with the added comfort his brother will bring on and off the court.

If the twins really do bring out the best in each other, as surely the Suns believe will be the case, perhaps Marcus was more valuable to Phoenix than he would be elsewhere, and perhaps the twins can drive up each other’s trade value.

In essence the Suns used their voluminous amount of cap space to buy a recent lottery pick at the cost of an early second-round pick and a meager amount of future cap space.

The second-rounder is largely immaterial with the Suns already owning a pair of first-rounders as well as two second-rounders by the time the trade deadline dust cleared.

As you can see on our recently-updated salaries page, the Suns added $2 million next season and $3 million in a team option the year after as well as the right to extend both Morris twins a qualifying offer before the 2015-16 season.

This season the Suns added about $1.9 million in Morris salary to their cap number and saved a few hundred thousand in the Telfair-Haddadi swap as well as whatever they saved by waiving the rest of Luke Zeller’s contract (not that it really matters with the team still well below the cap). However, according to ShamSports, $200,000 of Haddadi’s nearly $1.4 mil for next year is guaranteed, so that trade might ever so slightly cut into next year’s cap space, something I don’t love but likely won’t matter with it being such a small amount in relation to the cap.

The $2 million owed to Morris will take a bigger chunk out of their cap next season, and that’s likely savings Daryl Morey wanted after acquiring another four from KU in Thomas Robinson. By my projections, the Suns now owe nine players a shade over $44 million, and with two first-rounders and P.J. Tucker likely to be exercised for cheap that could be closer to $48-49 million to 12 players, and that’s assuming they waive Shannon Brown and Haddadi.

If the Suns don’t make any other moves, they would be looking at a player in the $10 million a year range rather than the potential max guy we’ve all been talking about.

However, it makes plenty of sense to shop Gortat and Scola, and due to the composition of the Suns’ roster it seems incredibly likely that at least one or two of their big men will be dealt.

Therefore, the end result of this trade is inconclusive. We don’t yet know whether the Suns will regret not having an extra $2 million in free agency or whether Morris on a cheap rookie deal is the best investment the Suns could have made for that cash.

We don’t yet know whether they now have the requisite assets to pull off at least a medium-sized deal nor what kind of trades might be on the table come summertime.

In the end, the Suns utilized their cap space to take a flyer on yet another former lottery pick who has yet to fulfill his promise, and for a team like the Suns in Stage 1 of their rebuilding process, that’s a good gamble to take.

Lineup data and advanced stats for the Suns’ newest Morris twin

This year the Rockets scored about as many points as they gave up with Marcus on the floor, and they were 3.8 points per 100 better without him, according to the NBA’s advanced stats site.

Last year they were abysmal offensively with him on the floor, as they scored a mere 91.1 points per 100 possessions in his 126 minutes compared to 103.2 without him. They were less than a point better defensively.

Morris only played 54 minutes with Goran Dragic last season in Houston, and the Rockets were outscored by almost 10 points per 100 possessions in that time. It would not be worth mentioning Luis Scola’s 20 minutes with Morris, except for the fact the team scored 68.0 per 100 and was outscored by a net rating of 41.6. Morris is a different player this season, but this is to say that aside from practice time, the Suns don’t gain much from a few of their players being his teammate last season.

Those numbers sound bad because Marcus struggled through an abysmal rookie campaign. He posted a 3.85 PER and shot 29.6 percent from the field to go with a 34.8 true shooting percentage and a 7.4 rebound rate. This year he’s already up to a 12.27 PER and a 42.8 shooting percentage to go with a 53.7 true shooting percentage and a 10.8 rebound rate. Morris also went from shooting 11.8 percent from three as a rookie to 38.1 percent this season.

Those numbers aren’t exactly great, but they are lightyears better than his rookie stats, and they provide hope that he can live up to his lottery promise in purple and orange.