Markieff Morris

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Wizards trade Markieff Morris to New Orleans Pelicans

Wizards trade Markieff Morris to New Orleans Pelicans

Markieff Morris has been traded to the New Orleans Pelicans for Wesley Johnson, NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig has confirmed. 

The move comes just hours after Washington shipped Otto Porter to the Chicago Bulls for Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis and a 2023 second round pick. 

Morris is currently sidelined with a neck injury that has kept him out since December. Before the injury, he was averaging 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

Now in his ninth NBA season, Johnson has spent time with the Timberwolves, Suns, Lakers, Clippers and Pelicans. In 26 games with New Orleans this season, the 31-year old is averaging 3.7 points per contest.

Shams Charania of The Athletic was first to report the Morris trade. 

This is a developing story. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for the latest news and updates.

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Markieff Morris doesn't expect long absence as he heads to see specialist for neck injury

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Markieff Morris doesn't expect long absence as he heads to see specialist for neck injury

The injury hits keep on coming for the Washington Wizards.

On the same day it was revealed John Wall is likely to miss the rest of the season due to surgery on his left heel, forward Markieff Morris is off to see a specialist for a nagging neck injury.

Morris has been dealing with discomfort in his neck and upper back since taking an elbow from LeBron James in the Wizards' win over the Lakers on Dec. 16.

He played in the team's next five games, but was held out for their back-to-back set against the Bulls and Hornets this weekend.

Morris, 29, had an MRI on his neck, NBC Sports Washington was told, and will go seek a second opinion on the results. As for which specialist he will see, the team is still deciding.

Morris described the injury as a stinger and does not believe he will be out long.

"It's something where I think if it required surgery, they would have told me already," he told NBC Sports Washington. "I don't think it's that deep. I hope it's not that deep."

In 34 games this season, Morris is averaging 11.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists. He has dealt with a series of minor injuries this season, including another neck issue in October. He took an elbow from Danilo Gallinari to the chin on Oct. 28 and missed the team's next game.

Any time Morris is out will be noticed. They are without Wall, plus center Dwight Howard who is sidelined for months after having back surgery. Otto Porter Jr. is also currently out due to a right knee injury.

With so many injuries to key players, the diagnosis for Morris will be extra important for the Wizards.

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Markieff Morris' success off Wizards' bench no accident, parallels his twin brother, Marcus

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Markieff Morris' success off Wizards' bench no accident, parallels his twin brother, Marcus

Markieff Morris is just as amused as the rest of us when it comes to parallels between him and his twin brother, Marcus -- stuff that he likes to refer to as "twin s---." They played together at every level, including the NBA, before they were split up by trades from the Phoenix Suns. Yet the same things always seem to happen to them.

This year has been no exception, as Markieff has followed a similar path with the Wizards as Marcus has with his Celtics. Like Marcus, Markieff was moved to the bench and happens to be enjoying a good deal of success in his new role.

Marcus was the first to go from starter to reserve. He played mostly off the bench last season and then in his first 17 games this year before getting bumped back to the starting lineup.

Marcus thrived with the second unit in Boston and that success showed Markieff a blueprint. After all, it's easy to visualize yourself doing something when you have an identical twin who did it first.

"S--- happens. I mean, it's crazy how that switch happened," Markieff said. "Watching my brother and the success he had off the bench kind of helps me also, seeing [him] come off the bench after being a starter for a long time."

Wizard head coach Scott Brooks made the change before the team's Nov. 20 match-up with the Clippers. Markieff was moved to the bench and at the time was replaced by Kelly Oubre Jr.

In the 10 games since, of which the Wizards have won six, Markieff has put up improved numbers. He is scoring more, getting more rebounds and shooting more efficiently:

Markieff as starter (15 G) - 9.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 43.0 FG%, 34.0 3PT%, 103 off. rating
Markieff as reserve (10 G) - 15.0 ppg, 6.6
rpg, 46.3 FG%, 36.8 3PT%, 109 off. rating

Markieff is even playing more minutes. He's averaging 28.3 off the bench compared to 25.1 as a starter. Brooks is trusting him more to finish games. When he was starting, Markieff averaged 6.3 minutes in the fourth, but as a reserve, he leads the team with 9.9 minutes on average in the final frame.

Markieff explained his success off the bench in part based simply on the competition being different. He's used to going up against the best frontcourt players each team can offer. Now, he's facing their back-ups.

"I'm playing against second unit guys, so the game is easier," he said.

But Markieff sees other advantages from the switch, ones that Brooks was aiming for when he first explained the move. Markieff gets to take more shots now. He is the most reliable scorer on the Wizards' bench and, because of that, is getting more looks.

Markieff is averaging 12.3 shots as a bench player compared with 8.1. But, as he explained, it's more than just the attempts.

"It's me being involved in the offense more. It's the ball touching my hands a lot more in the second unit. I'm finding guys and scoring the ball. I've always got a rhythm," Markieff said. 

"Obviously, the first two options are John [Wall] and Brad [Beal]. They demand a lot of the offense in the first unit. We just need some structure in the second unit, a go-to scorer, a guy that is basically myself that structure the offense better."

Markieff has also noticed an advantage in beginning the game off the bench. He can watch how the opposing team is defending the Wizards on a given night. He can see how they are switching, whether they are helping on post touches and what they are trying to take away on pick-and-rolls. By the time Markieff hits the floor, he knows what to expect. 

All of that worked for Marcus in Boston, so, sure enough, it is the case for Markieff in Washington.

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