Suns extend Morris brothers, bring in second Dragic
PHOENIX -- The Suns capped a furious end to their off-season by signing the Morris twins to multi-year contract extensions on Monday while also officially announcing the signing of Goran Dragic's brother, Zoran, to a multi-year deal.
So, instead of going through a restricted-free-agency tango with Markieff and/or Marcus next summer, Phoenix has the two forwards -- now entering their fourth seasons in the NBA -- under contract for what is being reported as an additional four years.
According to multiple reports, the twins will split $52 million over those four seasons; Markieff will be paid $32 million with Marcus coming in at $20 million.
President of basketball operations Lon Babby confirmed earlier reports that the Suns settled on a number for both and gave them the option of figuring out how it should be divvied up.
"They both were the strongest advocates for each other," Babby said.
Considering their relationship, that's not surprising.
"Since the day we picked up a basketball," Marcus said of playing on the same team, in the NBA, for the long term, "this has been our dream."
Asked if he could envision a situation or contractual stalemate that would have ended with them working for separate teams, Marcus didn't hesitate.
"This was the only way."
Markieff, who finished fourth in last season's Sixth Man of the Year Voting, has agreed to the same money and years required for the Orlando Magic to pull Channing Frye out of Phoenix. With Markieff expected to move into Frye's power forward slot in the Suns' starting lineup, last seasons' production -- 13.8 points and 6 rebounds per game -- could rise along with an anticipated increase in per-game minutes.
If he can continue the improvement level demonstrated last season, it's reasonable to believe Markieff might have commanded more than the $8 million per-season average in next summer's free-agent market.
But instead of considering what his value could be in a few months, Markieff seemed thrilled to have their contractual futures settled.
"It's a dream come true," he said, adding that he and Marcus were all set to go out and prove their worth this season, assuming their next deals would be handled later. "This (offer) came out of nowhere actually."
On the heels of an interview session dedicated to the rehiring of Eric Bledsoe, Babby put the Morris event in perspective.
"Some negotiations take awhile," he said, "and some are done quickly. I think our average is pretty good.
"We felt like we had to find a way to keep them together."
Like his brother, Marcus had his best NBA season last year, but must find time while competing with P.J. Tucker, rookie T.J. Warren and Gerald Green for minutes at small forward.
Zoran Dragic, 25, is a 6-foot-5 guard who has spent the last 10 seasons playing professionally in Spain and his native Slovenia. He averaged 12.9 points on 50 percent shooting in seven games for the Slovenian national team at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain while teaming with his older brother.
"Zoran's will to win and intensity stand out every time he steps on to the court," said general manager Ryan McDonough. "He has been a very productive player in Euroleague, ACB and FIBA competitions. He excels defensively and in transition, and I think our fans will quickly recognize his passion for the game."
Dragic spent the past two seasons playing professionally for Unicaja Malaga in Spain. He averaged 10.9 points per game last season in Euroleague competition, shooting 41.3 percent from the field.