Countdown to NBA trade deadline February 18: Should the Houston Rockets trade for…Markieff Morris?
There are officially less than ten days left before the NBA trade market closes for the season, and I’ll be very surprised if Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey doesn’t have a few tricks up his sleeve. Historically, Houston has been aggressive in the trade market on a yearly basis and I doubt this season will be any different.
The Rockets have needs in more than one area so it’s nearly impossible to predict what’ll happen, but the staff at Space City Scoop is committed to exploring all options. For today’s segment of our trade series, I’ll be taking a look at the likelihood of the long-rumored trade for Markieff Morris. The Phoenix Suns have had their fair share of issues this season and are looking to make a move to remedy some of them.
Since early December, there has been talk of the Rockets being interested in the 26-year-old power forward. Things have quieted down just a bit in the past month or so, but it could still be a very real possibility. Let’s take a look at how it could happen.
Nov 6, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris reacts against the Detroit Pistons at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
What could the Rockets offer, and does the trade work?
Morey already has his team over the salary cap, so making trades is somewhat complicated, but the ESPN Trade Machine is helpful with determining successful swaps. The one I propose goes through successfully, and actually has the Suns coming out as the winners of the trade. Both teams would give up two players, a shooting guard and a power forward.
The Suns unload Morris (who’s been a problem causer all season) and Archie Goodwin (a sophomore whose spot has recently been taken by a rookie).
The Rockets send off Terrence Jones (a 4th year player who is due a large contract this offseason) and Corey Brewer (who just signed a large contract this summer but has been underperforming this entire season).
The Rockets, though giving up two solid players in Jones and Brewer, would not lose roster spots since the newcomers would play the same positions as the departing players.
The Rockets are better off with Morris than Jones because of their contract situations. For the Rockets, Donatas Motiejunas‘s and Jones’s contracts expire after this season. Both play power forward and both are due big raises come this summer. With Houston already over the salary cap, there’s little to no chance that both players would be on the roster for next season. Morris, however, is signed through 2019 in a mid-level contract. The Rockets could get a player with similar stats to Jones for a much better bargain.
After last season, Corey Brewer signed the largest contract of his career with the Rockets. Morey saw that he was an integral part of the team’s success and immediately locked him up for three years. However, nearly all of his stats have plummeted this season; at times, he is more of a liability than a benefit to the team. Goodwin’s per-game averages are slightly better than Brewer’s this season, and he’s younger and more developable.
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Morris and Goodwin are two players with high ceilings, but have not been put in position to shine in Phoenix. The Suns give up a source of chemistry issues and a nonessential player and in return, get players of similar quality but could work better in their system.
Ever since the Suns traded Markieff’s brother, Marcus Morris, to the Detroit Pistons in the summer of 2015, the PF hasn’t been in good standing with the organization and vice versa. He’s made it clear that he feels disrespected by the front office and that has translated onto the court. Every single one of his stats is down from last season, and it’s hurting the team as a whole. By swapping Morris for Jones, the Suns get a player with similar abilities but free themselves of the locker room issues. Phoenix is also in a much better position to offer Jones a worthy contract this summer than Houston.
The Suns, who have a plethora of young talent (six players 24-years-old or younger), would be happy to obtain a veteran like Brewer who can be a leader in the locker room filled with youngsters. Though Goodwin has mostly better averages than Brewer this season, an argument could be made that Houston’s beard-dominant offense limits productivity of other players and that Corey’s numbers would rise in another system. Though he hasn’t been gracious enough to Houston to have a breakout game for the Rockets, Brewer is more than capable of high-volume scoring:
Odds Trade Will Occur
Like I said in today’s Daily Rocket Science, Morey has held his cards close to his chest this season. The only trade that’s taken place so far this year was for Josh Smith, and I don’t think anyone saw that coming. This trade makes really good sense for both teams, but I don’t know that it will actually happen. There has been almost no chatter of the Rockets being interested in Morris since the turn of the new year, so I’m afraid that the opportunity may have come and gone.
There’s no telling what Morey is thinking, though; it’s all just speculation at this point. The only thing that’s for sure is that we will all find out within the next week and a half. I’m expecting something to happen, but Rockets fans never get the liberty of anticipating what moves will be made until it’s a done deal.
With the trade deadline around the corner, make sure you visit Space City Scoop on a daily basis for our trade series. Each day, SCS will feature an article on who the Rockets should trade for or what it would take to part ways with the players currently on the roster. Finally, we’ll assess the Rockets and each team in the Association in terms of what their needs are, if they should be buyers or sellers, and also speculate on who would be the ideal trade target.