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The New Orleans Pelicans have emerged as a suitor with interest in acquiring disgruntled Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Suns and Pelicans have had preliminary contact about a potential trade, but Morris’ pending felony aggravated assault charges remain a possible obstacle for virtually every team interested in making a deal, sources told Yahoo. Nevertheless, the Pelicans have significant interest in pairing Morris on a frontline with Anthony Davis.
Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough has been cautious in his approach to fulfilling Morris’ longstanding trade demand, but coach Jeff Hornacek’s benching of Morris on Sunday night could be the beginning of the end for the forward in Phoenix. Morris played seven minutes in Phoenix’s 103-101 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday.
Morris, 26, has been hounding the organization for a trade since July, after his twin brother, Marcus, was moved to the Detroit Pistons in a trade. For months, inquiring teams were told the Suns wouldn’t be trading Markieff Morris, but the organization has struggled to get him to perform at his previous levels.
Morris has fallen to third on the struggling Suns’ depth chart at power forward, a culmination of poor play and poor attitude. He signed a four-year, $32 million contract extension a year ago. Both Morris twins signed extensions with the Suns and were angry that the organization split them up.
The Pelicans’ willingness to part with forward Ryan Anderson could make conversations worth exploring between the two teams, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The Pelicans are willing to consider moving Anderson as a part of a potential deal for Morris, especially if Anderson doesn’t show an interest in signing a new contract with New Orleans, sources said.
Anderson is making $8.5 million in the final year of his contract. He could become a free agent in July.
Markieff and Marcus Morris are facing felony aggravated assault charges stemming from a January incident at a recreation center in Phoenix. Detroit traded for Marcus Morris in July despite the pending charges, but risked little because it didn’t give up much in return. The Suns moved Marcus in a salary dump to clear cap space, a move that angered Markieff and led to a simmering summer standoff between Markieff and the Suns’ organization.
The Suns (9-13), despite winning Monday, have lost eight of 10 and changes could be necessary for a team that expected to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
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