February 18, 2016

Getting Desperate?

The picture above is my view at about 3:30 p.m. today. That's an unusual scene on NBA Trade Deadline day for me. I'm typically at home all day or at least in the afternoon furiously checking Twitter and all sorts of online blogs and columns to find out all the latest rumors and trades. Heck, a couple of years ago, I said this day should be a national holiday. But the combination of just getting back from vacation and being behind at work; a rare Thursday night Wizards game tonight right after work; and the fact that the Wizards weren't going to make any deals (hah!) forced me to work today. So after a 3 o'clock meeting, I caught up on what's really important about today and checked out the damage from a moderately busy day of player movement around the league.

And lo and behold, the Wizards DID make a move. And it's likely not as insignificant as trading Andre Miller to Sacramento for Ramon Sessions last year. Just like a couple of years ago when we took a flier on Marcin Gortat for a year, the team answering the phone on the other end of the line was the Phoenix Suns. Now at the beginning of the day, this is exactly the team I wanted the Wizards to trade with. To me, a Bradley Beal / Kelly Oubre / Kris Humphries swap for the Suns' Brandon Knight seemed like a good deal for both sides. It got the Suns a couple of young players to build around and got the Wizards one of my favorite players who can fill it up on any given night on a future cap friendly max deal. ESPN's trade machine even showed the Wizards picking up three wins this year in the process. Woo hoo!

However, that was not the deal that the Wizards made with the Suns. True, we did send Kris Humphries away along with DeJuan Blair and a (ugh!) future first round pick but got in return Markieff Morris. Yes, the same Markieff Morris that got a technical foul for not being able to choose which side of the lane he was going to stand during a free throw in a game against the Wizards in December. The same Markieff Morris (along with twin brother Marcus) charged with felony aggravated assault. The same Markieff Morris who has fought with a teammate and thrown a towel at his coach this season. The same Markieff Morris who has complained and whined about the discount he and his brother gave the Suns so they could play together only to find out that the team decided to trade Marcus to Detroit without so much as a hug for either of the Morrises.

So now the obvious question for the Wizards is why? Well it's not so dumb as it seems. Yes, Morris is clearly not one of those locker room glue guys. He's been a problem all season in Phoenix and the Suns were reportedly looking for any way to get him out of town. They must be thrilled to get a first round pick in return.

But when playing right, Morris can actually be fairly productive. Last year he played all 82 games and averaged over 16 points and 6 rebounds in a little more than 30 minutes per contest. And he's cheap. At about $8 million per season, that kind of production, if he can leave his baggage back in Phoenix, is a bargain. And he's locked up for three more years after this one. His salary only increases our commitment by a little less than $4 million next year (Humphries was under contract for next season at about $4.6 million) and therefore doesn't affect our offseason Kevin Durant fantasy or our Bradley Beal pending max deal mistake. The team is still sticking to the pie in the sky plan which I have to give them credit for doing.

This is likely a gamble worth taking. The Wizards have some strong locker room personalities to keep Morris in line in addition to two former teammates from their days in Phoenix (Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat) who can vouch for him. It's a risk for sure but the cheap price tag makes the risk moderate at best. And the upside is significant, even after you consider the lost first round pick.

Considering the Wizards recent draft pick history, losing a first rounder might not hurt that much. And I'm certainly not upset about losing either Blair or Humphries. In a moment of reality show judgement type weakness let me say I was never thrilled with Kris Humphries being a Wizard. As much of a disaster as his public marriage to Kim Kardashian was (which I don't fault Hump for at all), the one episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians that I ever watched (I was working out in my building's gym, I swear), his behavior was pretty deplorable. I say bring on the Markieff Morris era!!!

Now I just wonder how Randy Wittman and Morris will get along...

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