The NBA grapevine is pretty dry.
With the preseason in full swing, maybe teams are worried about themselves before anything else. Whatever the reason, it’s not all that surprising. The summer is when the juiciest rumors—and actual moves—are most frequently seen popping up.
Now they’re just raisins.
But fear not. If you look deep enough, you’ll find that beneath the box-score overreactions and health updates, there is still some gossip.
Morris Brothers Reunion in the Works?
After stomping his feet about a trade over the summer, Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris sang a different song in late September.
"I want to be here,” he said, per the Associated Press (via ESPN).
Whatever Morris says about his future in Phoenix should be taken with a grain of salt. After his twin brother, Marcus, was traded to the Detroit Pistons in July, the 26-year-old told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he wasn’t going to be a Sun.
“One thing for sure, I am not going to be there,” he said. “If you want to put that out there, you can put that out. I don't give a [freak]. I am not going to be there at all. That's just what it is.”
The Morris brothers have played together their entire lives, so where’s the only place both would (theoretically) be happy?
At the moment, it’s Detroit.
Vince Ellis, who covers the Pistons for the Detroit Free Press, says that the team does have interest in taking on another Morris brother.
Ellis was asked by a fan during a live chat how the Motor City will do this year—and who will get traded first:
That's a tough one. I think the Pistons will field the best team they've had during this playoff drought. But with the Eastern Conference getting better, will that be enough to snap the longest streak of not making the playoffs in the conference? Right now, I'm leaning toward no. So I will guess 35, 36 wins - just missing the playoffs. I reserve the right to change my mind before the season opener. I will guess Brandon Jennings is traded. For who? No way even guessing that, although I gather the Pistons are monitoring the Markieff Morris situation in Phoenix. There is interest there.
“Interest” could mean general manager Jeff Bower is casually thinking about it, or it could mean that he’s ready to hit the red button in dramatic fashion.
It’s hard to tell.
Level of interest aside, Morris would definitely help the Pistons. His averages of 15.3 points and 6.2 boards in 2014-15 would have ranked second and third, respectively, on Detroit’s roster a season ago. He’s a versatile 6’10” forward who can lure opposing bigs out of the paint and make them pay if they don’t.
He’s been a headache for the Suns, but everything has been as a result of wanting to play with Marcus. Perhaps a Morris reunion would be beneficial for all parties.
Kevin Martin on the Move?
Minnesota Timberwolves interim coach Sam Mitchell told SiriusXM Radio (via the Star Tribune's Jerry Zgoda) that the starting 2-guard spot was Zach LaVine's to lose.
The high-flyer started 40 contests for the ‘Wolves last year, so it’s not a groundbreaking announcement. The timing—prior to a preseason minute ever being played—was the more peculiar aspect.
Kevin Martin, who has averaged 18 points per game during his 11 years in the NBA, got beat out for the starting job by a 20-year-old who is still a ways away from being a completely polished player?
Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders has one explanation:
The decision to relegate Martin to a reserve role likely had less to do with LaVine being the better player at the moment and more to do with the Timberwolves’ full investment in the development of their young core.
If LaVine steps into the role and performs well, Martin becomes one of the Timberwolves’ most attractive trade assets and incredibly expendable. Martin is owed $7.1 million this season and holds a player option worth $7.4 million for the 2016-17 campaign. Martin’s deal is flexible enough to attract a solid number of suitors if he becomes available.
While that theory makes sense, Darren Wolfson, who covers the team for 1500 ESPN Twin Cities, threw some cold water on it:
Wolfson would later say he thinks Minny could get a first-round pick for Martin a few months from now:
He also wisely noted that if the team is struggling—and that happens when all the primary players are barely old enough to drink, if that—then Martin might not be opposed to a move:
Martin is 32. He’s put in his time. Playing second fiddle to a bunch of are-they-even-21-year-olds might get frustrating.
But at the same time, he has the chance to potentially be a part of something special. Teams can’t win or develop without veterans, and that’s exactly what he is.
It’s entirely possible that Martin does get traded at some point, but the most likely time would be at the deadline. That’s when desperate contenders are willing to pay top dollar for second-tier production.
For the first few months of the season, at least, expect Martin to be in a Wolves uniform.