Markieff Morris has spent a lot of energy this summer being angry with the Phoenix Suns. But he's under contract and has a starting position waiting for him. Tyson Chandler and Jeff Hornacek will tell him to focus on what's in the locker room, not what's upstairs in the offices.
Markieff Morris has fans in the Phoenix Suns organization. The Suns love Markieff's skills, and want him to commit to winning a lot of games in 2015-16 with the best base of talent the Suns have rolled out since probably 2010.
They know he needs to clear his head in order to get to that place.
"It's a case of hopefully he can get here and we can all talk to him," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "I think, once he gets here with the players, maybe the players can help with that regard and realize that probably, like anything else, it happens when you might not be happy with the organization. But you're a professional. You go out there and play as hard as you can."
Once Morris is back with the Suns, away from his summer influences, he will get advice from players at all stages of their careers. Most critically, he will get back into the groove of playing NBA basketball every day.
"Really, when you get out there and start playing games," he continued. "You're not playing for the organization. You're probably not even playing for your coaches. You're playing for yourself and your teammates because that's the bond those guys have as players. Once he gets playing with these guys, I think he'll be OK."
Paul Coro caught up with Tyson Chandler this week, and heard pretty much the same thing about playing for your teammates first.
Chandler knows what it is like to come to work with ruffled feathers, having been traded from New Orleans to Oklahoma City in 2009 only to have the Thunder rescind the deal over turf toe.
"Our whole (New Orleans) organization was concerned how I was going to come back and would I lay down and all that kind of stuff," said Chandler, who began voluntary workouts Monday with the Suns. "I let all of them know, in a meeting with the GM, that ‘I don't play for you guys. I play for myself. I play for my family. And I play for other guys in that locker room.' So it wasn't difficult for me to come back and stand alongside my brothers because that's who I play for."
"It's not about them," Chandler continued. "That's no offense to Ryan, the GM, or the owner. Players play for players and the coaches. You've got a bond. Management has nothing to do with anything that goes on when you're on the court. That's just my thoughts. I'm not saying this for anything against Keef either. He's a man and he has to go through his own process. But he can be special and I know he will. I feel like all this stuff will be forgotten once we kick off and we're having success."
Having the coach and the team's most respected, veteran player on the same page is a good thing. I'd expect guys like Ronnie Price and Sonny Weems will have similar input.
Look, Markieff doesn't have to like the front office. A lot of guys in every sport don't like their front office. It's not unique to Keef. Frankly, every player has a beef at one time or another with the guys who write their paychecks, judge their performance and - with the flick of a wand - trade them or their closest friend away to another team.
But Markieff has no leverage. He is just starting a four-year contract, signed last off season. And if he looks closely, he would realize that few organizations in the NBA would give him the opportunity the Suns have waiting for him this season: a starting position on a playoff contender.
For his part, Hornacek is just using logic and maturity to envision the next steps in this relationship. He has to work with the players he's given, including Markieff if he's not traded before the season starts (which is looking less ad less likely). He and Markieff get along just fine. He just wants Markieff to look at the bigger picture.
"I think that he's just got to get over that he wasn't happy that his brother was traded and that's understandable," Hornacek said. "But the season is coming up and it's time to get back to work."
Hornacek has been Morris' coach for two years. He's leaning on his understanding of what makes Markieff tick.
"I know Markieff," Hornacek said. "I know that when he gets here and starts playing, he's a competitor and he's going to try to win. Hopefully, he can get whatever he has off his chest with us and get back to business and help this team win."
Hornacek has his own experience with making a trade demand.
"Me included, when I was in Philly," he said of trade demand in Philly, after he was sent there for Charles Barkley in 1992. "Mine in that case was they were going to go through a rebuilding and I was already 29 or 30 years old. It doesn't make a lot of sense to stay there through the rebuilding."
Philadelphia granted Hornacek's wish, sending him to Utah where he started next to John Stockton and Karl Malone and appeared in two NBA Finals while making his mark as one of the best Jazz players ever.
"But it's usually pretty quiet," Hornacek admits. "You just go through the organization, and you keep playing. It happens all the time."
I asked if twitter would have changed the tune of those negotiations with Philly.
"No because I don't have twitter now," he joked. "So I'm sure I wouldn't have had it then either."
It looks like Markieff Morris will be on the team to start the year. If he can get over his frustration with the Suns off season moves that he didn't like - the trading of his brother and the dalliance with LaMarcus Aldridge to replace him - he might see the good things that the Suns did.
Tyson Chandler just might be the best thing that ever happened to Markieff Morris. Chandler does everything that Markieff would prefer not to do. Chandler rebounds like crazy, defends the post, sets picks, rolls hard to the rim and catches alley-oops. When not in the offensive play, Chandler can hang on the weak side baseline, waiting for the play to develop in case he's needed for a dump-off pass or an offensive rebound/tap-back.
Morris, on the other hand, loves to score in the mid-range, can step out to the perimeter and is a very good passer for a big man.
These two could be great compliments to each other, both on and off the court.
"As athletes, a lot of times, you get in a situation where you hear what you want to hear and never what you need to hear," Chandler said at his introductory press conference in July. "The older you get in your career and you're able to be around great vets like Jason Kidd, Dirk (Nowitzki), and in my younger days Antonio Davis and Charles Oakley would definitely tell you exactly how it is."
If Markieff listens to Chandler and the other players, and just puts his head down and works to become the best ball player he can be, then all this offseason grumbling will be forgotten. Just ask Eric Bledsoe if that's true.