Suns general manager Ryan McDonough has been pursuing a package that includes a younger player and a first-round pick, league executives said. The Suns are motivated to honor Morris' desire for a trade – and have no intention of bringing him back next season – but teams are starting to think the Suns could hold onto Morris past the Thursday trade deadline without a deal that brings back a player of value with a first-round pick.
The Suns could wait until the summer to move Morris when teams who have missed on free-agent priorities return aggressively into the trade market for the power forward. Morris' contract has three years, $24 million left after this season, which is still on the low end for a player of his talent – whatever the recurring issues with his attitude and professionalism.
Part of the challenge in pursuing Morris primarily with the lure of draft choices is that the Suns have such a deep well of future picks. Phoenix has five first-round picks in the next three drafts – and nine over the next six years.
Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac were using All-Star weekend in Toronto to canvass league officials on possible candidates to hire as general manager, league sources told The Vertical.
The Kings are starting to acknowledge that Divac has been overwhelmed with the complexities of the collective bargaining agreement and the sophisticated ways with which most NBA organizations are run now. Privately, the Kings have been telling people they plan to run a GM and a coaching search once the regular season ends. Sacramento has committed to keeping coach George Karl for the rest of the regular season, but has shown no inclination to bring him back next season, sources said.
As of now, the Kings will struggle to convince attractive NBA coaches to take the job. The organizational structure would have to change dramatically to even get into a conversation with any of the successful coaches on the market, including Tom Thibodeau, Jeff Van Gundy and Scott Brooks.
The Brooklyn Nets are moving toward second interviews in the GM process this week, and several candidates have distinguished themselves in the process, league sources said.
Candidates talking further with Nets ownership and management include Denver assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas and San Antonio Spurs assistant GM Sean Marks, league sources said. Other candidates – including Bryan Colangelo and Houston vice president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas – may still be in the search process, sources said.
One thing that has become apparent: The next GM will not have unilateral control in hiring the Nets' next coach, sources said. The organization plans to pursue a coach through the elaborate committee that it has assembled to interview GM candidates. The GM will have input, but the Nets want to hire a significant presence as head coach – among a pool of candidates that they hope includes Van Gundy, Thibodeau and Spurs assistant Ettore Messina.
Several players almost assuredly who'll get bought out and become free agents if they are not traded this week, leagues sources said, include Boston's David Lee, Denver's JJ Hickson and Brooklyn's Andrea Bargnani.
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