There was a very interesting dynamic going on with Markieff Morris and the Phoenix Suns this season.
To outside observers, Morris seemed like a cancer. He demanded to be traded before the season began, was suspended by the team for throwing a towel at then-head coach Jeff Hornacek, and got into an altercation with a younger player on the bench before he was finally traded to the Wizards last week.
Despite all of that, however, Morris was viewed as a positive by his teammates, and seen as a hard-working professional by virtually all of his coaches.
Article continues below ...
That last part was proven to be true by Hornacek himself, who (via Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher) had nothing but positive things to say to the Wizards when the franchise asked for a reference of sorts on Morris before pulling the trigger on the trade that brought him to Washington.
Among the reasons the Wizards aren't worried about Markieff's volatility is because they reached out to Hornacek, who was fired Feb. 2 and replaced by Watson. Although Hornacek was publicly critical at times of Markieff's effort, a league source says Hornacek gave his stamp of approval to the Wizards when asked about him. “I think he was just fighting himself for a while there,” Hornacek said of Markieff shortly before his firing.
Morris did have his best game of the season in the first contest after Hornacek was fired, so there may have been some friction in the relationship after all. But Hornacek owed the Suns nothing after he was released, and he certainly didn’t need to sugar-coat the situation with Morris just to help Phoenix finally send him out of town.
All of this means just one thing: The way Morris was viewed by his coaches and his teammates was very different from the public’s perception.