Sources: Suns ask Markieff Morris to apologize to team as condition of return

Marc J. Spears

Suspended Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris could return to practice Tuesday if a meeting with team officials goes well, a league source told Yahoo Sports.

Markieff Morris (left) was suspended for throwing a towel at coach Jeff Hornacek. (AP)
Markieff Morris (left) was suspended for throwing a towel at coach Jeff Hornacek. (AP)

Morris has completed a two-game suspension for "conduct detrimental to the team" after throwing a towel at Suns coach Jeff Hornacek during a 104-96 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. Suns general manager Ryan McDonough has asked Morris to briefly meet with him, Hornacek and team president Lon Babby prior to Tuesday's practice, the source said. Morris has been told he will be asked to apologize to his Suns coaches and teammates, make a renewed commitment to the team for games, practices, weight-training sessions and treatment sessions and attend all NBA and Suns community appearances, the source said.

Morris is expected to attend the meeting on Tuesday and do what is needed to return to practice afterward, the source said. Still, some within Morris' camp are confused by the team's requests because Morris already apologized to Hornacek and his teammates on Twitter and sent a separate apologetic text to Hornacek. Morris also has spoken with his teammates regularly during the suspension that cost him $145,455, the source said.

Morris repeatedly tweeted his desire to be traded after the Suns dealt his twin brother, Marcus, to the Detroit Pistons in the offseason. Markieff Morris averaged career-highs of 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds last season with Phoenix. This season, however, the fifth-year NBA veteran, has lost his starting job, was benched for several games and is averaging 10.8 points and 4.8 rebounds.

Morris recently told Yahoo Sports that Hornacek told him he cut his playing time because he wasn't playing as well as expected and wanted to give the Suns' younger forwards a chance.

"I just keep working hard," Morris told Yahoo Sports on Dec. 16. "[Not playing] me is their decision. The only thing I can do is keep working hard and keep getting better.

"I've been through way worse than this. Way tougher stuff than this. On a scale of 1 to 10, this is like a 2 to me. This doesn't hurt me."

The struggling Suns (10-21) lost both games – to the two-win Philadelphia 76ers and the Cleveland Cavaliers – during Morris' suspension. The Suns also fired Hornacek's top two assistant coaches in Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting on Sunday while promoting assistant coaches Nate Bjorkgren and Earl Watson.

When asked if he was eager for a trade, Morris told Yahoo Sports on Dec. 16: "I'm just eager to get back on the court whether it is with the Suns or somebody else. I enjoy playing the game of basketball."