Suns send Markieff Morris to Wizards, acquire first-round pick

Markieff Morris played 345 games over five seasons with the Suns after being drafted with the 13th pick in 2011.

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The turbulent marriage between Markieff Morris and Phoenix Suns came to a close at Thursday’s NBA trading deadline, with Morris getting shipped to the Washington Wizards for a protected 2016 first-round draft pick and forwards DeJuan Blair and Kris Humphries.

Morris, the Suns’ starting power forward, became disgruntled when the team traded his twin brother, Marcus, to the Detroit Pistons. He’s struggled through a tumultuous season, earning a suspension for throwing a towel at former coach Jeff Hornacek, engaging in a sideline scuffle with teammate Archie Goodwin and playing at a level far below his performance from previous seasons.

Morris is averaging 11.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while shooting 39.7 percent from the floor, far below last season’s numbers of 15.3, 6.2 and 46.5. He seemed to thrive, however, once Earl Watson was appointed interim head coach, averaging 20.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and shooting 44.9 percent in his past five games.

The Suns received Washington’s 2016 first-round pick, which is protected through the first nine picks but would become the Suns’ property if it falls at 10 or higher.  The Wizards are currently out of playoff position and have the league’s 12th worst record.

The Suns now own three 2016 first-round picks with their own, Washington’s and Cleveland’s (protected to 10), as well as their own second-round pick.

"Today we added another first-round pick to our collection of picks while keeping our young core intact," general manager Ryan McDonough said. "We are excited to watch this group of players continue to develop and grow together."

Humphries, best known for briefly being married to reality TV star Kim Kardashian, missed 18 of Washington’s last 19 games because of a sore right knee. He recently turned 31 and is in his 12th NBA season. He is averaging 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds in 16.6 minutes per game this season, while Blair is averaging 2.1 points and 2.0 rebounds in 7.5 minutes. Neither has a guaranteed contract for next season.

The 26-year-old Morris offers frontcourt versatility and athleticism for the Wizards, who entered their first game after the All-Star break with only a 23-28 record and in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, two spots out of a playoff berth.

Led by All-Star point guard John Wall, Washington made the postseason each of the past two years but has struggled at the defensive end as it has tried to become more of a small-ball team. The Wizards won only three of their last 10 games heading into the break.

"We needed a jolt," general manager Ernie Grunfeld said.

Grunfeld said he didn’t think Morris’ issues with the Suns would cause trouble in a new locker room.

"We needed someone who will play with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder and has something to prove," Grunfeld said. "And I think after speaking to him this afternoon, he’s that type of player."