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Report: Markieff Morris throws towel at coach Hornacek after benching


Barry Gossage

Ways not to boost your trade value 101, lesson courtesy the Suns’ Markieff Morris:

Morris has been an unhappy camper in Phoenix since this summer when he felt blindsided by the trade of his twin brother Marcus to clear out cap space for the franchise’s run at LaMarcus Aldridge (which came up short). There has been bubbling tension with coach Jeff Hornacek all season, but that spilled over on Wednesday night.

Morris threw a towel at Hornacek after being pulled, Hornacek threw it back, words were exchanged and Morris spent the rest of the game on the bench. He may stay there longer, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

With 9:47 to play and Denver leading 84-75, Morris was taken out of the game and he threw the towel while barking at Hornacek. Hornacek picked up the towel and threw it back Morris’ way with his own upset words for him.

“He’s mad about not playing,” Hornacek said. “I look at the stat sheet. He’s a minus-13 in 12 minutes. So there, I took him out. … He thinks he’s better than that. Show me.”

“That’s between me and ‘H’ (Hornaceck),” said Markieff, who made 2 of 8 shots and had one rebound Wednesday. “It’s not for media. It’s something between me and him that happened. We’ll talk about it.”

The Suns are considering additional punishments for Morris, Hornacek reportedly said. I’d expect he will miss a couple of games.

The Suns are known to be considering trading Morris in the right deal, with both Houston and the Pelicans (for Ryan Anderson) interested, but nothing is imminent. This little tantrum doesn’t help Morris’ trade value. For example, if you’re the Pelicans GM, is the guy with this attitude the one you want to pair with Anthony Davis for years (and Davis would have to play more center)?

This incident — combined with the Suns are 6-14 in their last 20 games — means Hornacek’s seat is getting hotter. The expectations were higher for this team. Of course, a lot of the blame should be directed toward GM Ryan McDonough. He was the guy who went out and got Tyson Chandler this summer thinking he was a game changer, he wanted to pair Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, and he signed Morris to an extension. This is the team he made. But GMs don’t fire themselves, they can’t fire the players, so the coach becomes the target.

If the Suns’ downward spiral continues, something is going to get shaken up in the Valley of the Sun.