Recent reports indicate that the Suns are turning to the Morris twins to fill the floor-spacing role vacated by Channing Frye. Are they up to the task?

This summer the Suns have taken their dual-point offense to even greater heights with the signing of Isaiah Thomas, and added scoring punch through the draft with T.J. Warren, who might be ready to contribute immediately if his early showings in Las Vegas are any indication.

Thomas and Warren both possess undeniable instincts for getting the ball through the cylinder, and in an offense based around tempo and putting relentless pressure on opposing defenses they figure to fit like a glove.

However, an obvious blemish remains on the Suns' efforts this summer in the departure of Channing Frye, exacerbated by the fact that Markieff Morris is currently the only true power forward on the Suns' depth chart.

Stalled Markets and the Dog Days of Summer

The obvious ideal addition to fill Frye's stretchy shoes would be Kevin Love, but it doesn't appear that Flip Saunders and the T-Wolves are in any rush to move their All-World power forward.

Phx Suns discussed trade for Kevin Love yesterday/ would need 3rd team involved/ Suns do not have the right assets for deal

— Jude LaCava (@judefox10) July 13, 2014

This is nothing to be discouraged about; as long as Love is still a Timberwolf, the Suns will be in the discussion. And despite LaCava's assertion, the Suns have plenty of assets -- it's just not the right time for the T-Wolves to accept them yet.

Basically, if I'm Flip Saunders the only way I'm dealing Love directly to the Suns now is if either Dragic or Bledsoe are included.

And if I'm Ryan McDonough, the only way I'm directly trading for Love now is if both Dragic and Bledsoe are off the table.

So it goes.

As much as the sanity of the fans involved is compromised, there is no impetus on either side of the trade docks to force a deal right now, a full seven months before the trading deadline. There's a reason that these disgruntled star player storylines take so long to be resolved -- until the clock really starts ticking there is simply no incentive to settle on a deal that is anything less than stellar.

The Suns are holding onto their assets very tightly, and they're going to keep playing chess instead of losing patience and breaking out the checkers board. Be grateful for that, even as the Chinese water torture of summer begs to drive you insane.

In the meantime, the Suns appear to be turning to their own roster for a stopgap solution.

McDonough & Ennis discuss Thomas' addition. Markieff & Marcus Morris will be #Suns stretch-4 options with Frye gone. http://t.co/8MvGMiQPYR

— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) July 13, 2014

Per Coro's article:

It would be hard for the Suns to replace the stretch big-man element of Channing Frye, who departed for Orlando in free agency. That could happen internally.

"Markieff (Morris) has worked on his range," McDonough said. "Markieff is a good player and scores in a different way than Channing most of the time. We see Marcus Morris in that role some as a stretch four who can spread the floor. He shot a great percentage from 3-point range last year. We think he'll play some small forward and power forward."

Let's pretend this is true for a moment, even though McDonough's quote hardly matches Coro's tweet. If Frye's role will indeed be assigned to the Morris twins, will the summer of 2014 yield immediate improvement for the Suns? They have continued to stockpile assets with Warren, Tyler Ennis, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Isaiah Thomas figures to be a lock to outplay the modest contract he was signed to, but have they done enough to exceed or even match their win total of 48 from last season?

Mo' Morri, Mo' Problems?

Despite their breakout seasons in 2013/14, the Morris twins present more questions than answers if they are going to move up the depth chart.

Markieff

Markieff was indispensable at times as a frontcourt scoring threat, scoring 13.8 PPG in a variety of ways while playing nearly as many minutes off the bench (26.6) as Frye did in the starting lineup (28.2). He was also third on the team in FTA/36 minutes with 5.5.

However, despite his increase in scoring production his 3P% fell to .315, which he will have to improve if he is to create any space in the paint when spotting up outside. The irony here is that his emergence coincided with him spending less time on the perimeter. Do the Suns really want to take him away from the areas in which he is most effective for the sake of keeping the offensive scheme static? Is employing a stretch big worth eliminating a frontcourt scoring threat?

Also of concern, will he be overexposed as a starting PF? Is it reasonable to increase his minutes and workload without expecting some drop in production?

See what I mean about questions?

Marcus

While Markieff's improvement was more noticeable, Marcus made a niche for himself as a spot-up combo forward last season, knocking down a stellar 38% of his attempts from deep. He wasn't bashful about it either, hoisting 5.2 3PA per 36 minutes.

Like his bro, Marcus also showed some midrange skills, shooting .486 on 109 attempts from 10-16 feet, which surprisingly topped Markieff at .478 on 186 attempts.

Playing time at the small forward position will likely be at a premium with Gerald Green, T.J. Warren and perhaps Archie Goodwin all vying for minutes behind the newly re-signed P.J. Tucker. Coupled with the departure of Frye this should result in more minutes for Marcus as a power forward, and if he can sustain his shooting percentages he will make life much easier for Dragic, Bledsoe and Thomas.

At 6'9 and 235 he should have enough size for a true power forward, but it would help if he offered some tenacity when battling the big guys. He tends to play smaller than he actually is, which might be the only thing holding him back from being a full time stretch-big.

Oh yeah, defense

Both of the Morris twins will have to produce on offense if they're going to be spending more time down low on defense. They both lack the length and instincts to be reliable paint defenders, and more minutes for the twins might in turn put a greater onus on the development of young centers Miles Plumlee and Alex Len, who have only played a combined 136 regular season games.

The good news here is that they won't exactly be replacing a defensive stalwart in Frye, and there may be enough natural growth at the center position and within the scheme of Mike Longabardi to mitigate the effect of the Mo Bros' shortcomings.

If guys like Carlos Boozer and Zach Randolph can be a part of an elite defense, there is hope for the Morri.

If all else fails, there is enough scoring talent on this roster to drop 130 points with a bad hangover.

Adjusted Expectations

Within the context of summer popcorn headlines about Kevin Love and Chris Bosh, it's difficult not to be a little disappointed at the thought of replacing Channing Frye with nothing more than two guys who served behind him on the depth chart last season.

On the other hand, you could do a hell of a lot worse than two guys coming off of breakout seasons and heading into a contract year. If the Morris twins indeed head into the 2014/15 seasons with increased roles and a chance to climb into the "A" tier of the 2015 free agent pool, they'll have all the motivation they need to turn in another career year.

At a shade under $3 million per twin, the Suns would again be getting a ridiculous bargain.

Even more than last season, this Suns team will begin and end with their backcourt. Any hopes of stopping the Suns will rest upon containing Dragic, Bledsoe and Thomas. Even then, Gerald Green might pop off for 41 points.

They have established the best guard rotation in the NBA, and they accomplished this feat in a single calendar year. There is still work to do, but I can imagine plenty of worse scenarios than giving the Morris twins a chance to prove themselves before they hit free agency.

Let's see what they can do.

Well, at least until February.

LAS VEGAS — The Phoenix Suns used a barrage of three pointers late to come from behind and defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 93-82 on Sunday night in this second game of the Las Vegas Summer League....

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Game 1: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. San Antonio Spurs

Will Cherry was the MVP of this one. Cherry is an explosive point guard at only 6'1 185 lbs He's a high leaper who uses that to his advantage in attacking the basket and has a very quick first step that gets him to top speeds quickly. Cherry only had 9 points coming into the fourth quarter but finished with 21. You rarely see a point guard be one of those all out motor guys but Cherry is one of the exceptions. He also came down with 7 rebounds and had 4 assists. He was lighting it up from three but his college stats suggest that this was just a hot streak. Most importantly though, Cherry defended and ran the offense well enough to warrant at least some attention. The energy he played with along with the finishing he had with his athleticism suggests that he could possibly be an NBA player. The thing about summer league is that it doesn't tell you who is an NBA player, but it eliminates those who certainly aren't one. I wouldn't eliminate Cherry. Tidbits...

  • Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett were much better in this one. They both had a lot of rhythm in their jumpers early and Wiggins didn't even hit the rim for his first couple of makes. Bennett is still forcing it when he has it at the top of the key, but he was making them confidently when he had enough space.
  • After seeing Wiggins live twice I can confirm the assertive concerns. On Friday the defense was scrambling and he was wide open on the wing for about 5 seconds. Instead of jumping up and down or yelling for the ball, he just stood there with his hands on his hips. He might have been tired, but come on man demand the ball and hit that open three! He also refuses to consistently attack the basket despite getting to the basket every single time he wanted to. He could have averaged 18 free throws a game here if he wanted to but that's not his thing I guess. His handle is still pretty loose but he hasn't turned it over so far here on a drive. His perimeter game is very good though and he showed off that signature step-back a few times.
  • Kyle Anderson had a rough day offensively (Wiggins), but he showed that savvy defensive play that some scouts would counterpoint to those saying he couldn't play defense. He had a couple of great strips on Wiggins and recovered nicely for a block later in the game. He's going to be unreal in the Spurs offense with his ball movement and shooting.
  • Carrick Felix had a much better day. The former ASU player got involved much more today with his energy and athleticism, which extends to defense, rebounds, steals, and transition. He has potential as a slasher in this league which is why he got drafted and he showcased that the other skills he has work well.
  • Matthew Dellavedova took only three shots but had seven assists. The guy is a legit backup point guard.

Game 2: Sacramento Kings vs. Charlotte Hornets

P.J. Hairston did not have a good Friday to say the least. He shot 2-16 from the field and 1-10 from three. He got off to another cold start today until he caught fire. Hairston hit three straight from deep that almost ripped the net because his makes were that pure. All three of them were legitimately contested and it didn't matter. When he is off he can't do much offensively but when he catches his rhythm he is so dangerous. Not sure if he's a permanent replacement at the 2 guard for the Hornets but he could be a great weapon off of the bench. Bullets...

  • Sim Bhullar saw the floor! The colossal 7'5" center was a big talking point amongst the crowd. He got one post touch which resulted in nothing but hey do you big fella.
  • I got a nice squat workout in this one as the people in my isle were obsessed with just about any autograph they could get. Being a tall person requires you to get up every time someone wants to get by so that wasn't so much fun.
  • I did not see Noah Vonleh's debut on Friday when he shot 0-13 so I was curious to see how he'd look today. He is so good on the boards and defensively already that I can see why teams were so high on him. However, if his jumper isn't falling it's going to be tough for him to succeed and that's the key to his career.
  • Ra'shad James, the backup point for the Kings here in Vegas had a small contingent behind me in the bleachers. Whenever he did anything they went crazy and it was hilarious. My favorite was when a defender was late to jump out on him and he buried a three resulting in a "hand down man down" from a few of them. Summer league!
  • Ben McLemore continues to look very good in both getting to the rim to finish and shooting from the perimeter. The Stauskas/McLemore thing is still strange but both have played well in Vegas.

Game 3: Chicago Bulls vs. Denver Nuggets

This was the Tony Snell and Doug McDermott show. I'm not sure where this Tony Snell was last year but he looks like one hell of an offensive player. His three was absolute butter today and he attacked the basket efficiently and finished most of those chances. McDermott kept hitting his threes from wherever he was, even if it was a couple feet behind the line. His movement off the ball is so impressive as he stays low, moves quickly, and turns in a very agile manner. The Bulls are bringing back hopefully a healthy Derrick Rose, a better Snell, Nikola Mirotic, and McDermott. Not bad. Snell and McDermott had 34 points combined at the half and this was with one of the best defenders in Vegas Gary Harris spending time on both of them.

  • One thing you get from watching McDermott is that he is no doubt a complete scorer, but you get the best of him when you have him moving off the ball. Chicago came into Vegas with a clear plan of doing that as much as possible, but will this still be in the case in the pros next season? We will just have to wait and see. The Bulls don't really have any weapons off the bench besides whoever doesn't start at power forward so it should be an option. Then again running your offense around a rookie doesn't usually happen.
  • Quincy Miller kept scoring and proving that he might not even deserve to be here. He had 17 points in the first half. Miller is just too tall and long for anyone undersized to properly defend him. My best comparison would be Giannis Antetokounmpo if he could consistently face-up on you and bury a jumper right in your eye. I have no idea if Miller can score like this at the next level and as our own Seth Pollack pointed out, Anthony Randolph put up 50 in the summer league once. I have a feeling he can be a good scorer in this league but we will just have to wait and see. He's someone to keep an eye on being a 21-year-old.
  • Gary Harris didn't get as many looks today and spent most of the day defending the two best players on the floor. He was chasing McDermott around screens all day and did as good of a job as you possibly could on him.

Game 4: Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks

The two players who Suns fans probably expected to be the best players on the floor in Vegas were indeed just that in the first three quarters. Archie Goodwin was up to his usual slashing and Miles Plumlee actually made two jump shots. Two! He's still far away from being good in the post but the Suns are certainly giving him his reps. Perhaps the two biggest things for Archie in this one were the corner three he drained easily and his assist inside. These are the kinds of things that happen to your game when you get drafted at the age of 18, you grow. While Miles had his unexpected makes in the post, he did something we expected and swatted the crap out of Jabari twice in a row. The first block was a " I am stronger than you" block and the second one was a "lol you gonna force that don't you ever learn get that outta here rook" block. Jabari was not pleased and kept forcing it because that's what angry Jabari does. Both forced it too much, particularly Plumlee, but like I said earlier this is about getting reps and the plan appears to be to get those for Miles from the post. Those two did the bulk of the work through three quarters and then it was the Tyler Ennis and Seth Curry show.

Ennis was spectacular in the fourth quarter and that was a sample of what you can do with an offense if you let him attack consistently. Longabardi put shooters all around him and like I said in the preview, he reads the defense and goes from there. If the lane was open he was getting to the rim and if anyone was helping he found the open man every time. Seth Curry was happy to have him out there. Ennis did a good job on Nate Wolters tonight and he's been that way defensively throughout his play here so far. There's a signature move I want you to watch for next time they play. Ennis does this thing coming up the floor where he lets the defender think he can get a steal and then he spins off the defender to get space. He's done it a handful of times so far and it's a nifty trick. His floater game is still strong and that looks like that's a legit weapon. He is not confident shooting the three yet, as tonight was the first time he had an opportunity. He didn't pull the trigger twice and the one time he did he missed badly. That's a disappointment but I still dig his pure point play and that way he attacks the basket. That fourth quarter was fun to watch. Bullets...

  • Seth Curry is winning the race between the three shooters. He is showcasing those scoring point guard skills I talked about in my preview and that savvy/inventive way he goes about creating space I talked about yesterday. He caught fire in the second half and was automatic. He's playing pretty decent defense as well. Dionte Christmas is the man but he's losing the race so far if it's being looked at from the play in Vegas. He had a couple of great passes but he's been forcing it too much when he attacks the rim. Taylor Braun was finally freed and had a couple of nice strips on D before getting pulled after a minute in the second quarter. He had an actual steal in the third quarter and overall I thought he played well given what he was tasked with. Someone tell Curry/Ennis that he can shoot!
  • Alec Brown was about as bad as you could be once again. He has not even had a close miss so far in his threes. He keeps getting dominated inside and shakes his head all the time as if he doesn't understand the mismatches he has to compensate for inside. That's no shot at Brown, he just has to embrace the physical nature of playing down low. He's got a long way to go and any thought that he could fill in for some of the Channing Frye minutes was ludicrous as predicted. Brown did wind up hitting a jumper at the top of the key and then finally hit a three so he got something out of tonight.
  • Elias Harris keeps playing solid enough to keep your attention. He has a pure three-point stroke that always looks like it's going in and has a good understanding of how to get to the basket from both the post and the perimeter. He did a pretty good job on Jabari Parker in the first half but then again Jabari has a big problem with forcing things.
  • T.J. Warren never got going in the first quarter and a cut to his head kept him out the rest of the game.

No game for the Suns tomorrow. They play Philly on Tuesday at 5PM.

It was a rough start for the Suns in Summer League, losing to Golden State, and then receiving the news that Alex Len will miss the remainder of the SL with a broken finger. But no need to fear: T.J. Warren is here.

Las Vegas Summer League continues tonight, with the Suns playing their second game, facing Jabari Parker, The Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Last night, the Suns started the twin towers of Miles Plumlee and Alex Len. With Len out, not sure who will start in the frontcourt tonight besides Plum.

The Suns played a fairly sloppy and ugly game by our standards, scoring only 72 points while making zero 3s and producing only 2 assists. It is summer league, after all. Big men Miles Plumlee and Alec Brown combined to shoot 0-14, but budding young stars T.J. Warren and Archie Goodwin combined for 39 points on 16-26 shooting.

I like T.J. Warren a whole lot. I think he's dreamy. Let's see what the Summer Suns can do tonight.

For more on summer league, see what Bright Side's Kellan Olson, who is onsite in Vegas, had to say here.

The view from the opposition can be seen here.

Suns vs. Bucks, 7PM AZ time, NBATV.

Bryan Gibberman, Brazilian soccer star Sreekar, and Scott Howard have come together to deliver a 4th edition of Bright Side After Dark. There were laughs, tears, bad jokes, and talk about the Phoenix Suns.

We kept you waiting a whole 9 days from our last podcast - an offense for which you receive my most sincere apology. I'm kidding. But I do appreciate you listening to us yell at each other anyway!

On this episode of the BSAD - Steve's latest invention accidentally gives him the ability to read minds- thinking it will be a good thing & change the whole world- until the Winslows feel that their privacy is invaded- including Laura- when Steve learns she's been attracted to him. Meanwhile, Carl becomes a troop leader for Richie, 3J and the Junior Woodsmen.

OK that's an episode of Family Matters.  In reality, we close the book on LeBron James, say goodbye to Channing Frye, welcome Isaiah Thomas, and cheer the return of PJ Tucker.  For good measure we also talk about Summer League, make some ridiculous predictions, and watch Gibby shove his foot in his mouth.

But don't listen to me - take it from the fans:

@sreekyshooter I was looking forward to the live sacrifice on BS After Dark

— Jack Kolbe (@JackKolbe) July 10, 2014

@sreekyshooter also, I'm listening to the podcast now and your verbal fisticuffs are a hootenany

— Shardul Golwalkar (@shardyg) July 8, 2014

@Gibberman10 @ScottHoward42 @sreekyshooter Finally listened to Brightside After Dark. It's audio version of a car wreck. Can't turn away.

— Espo (@Espo) July 7, 2014

Listen to us talk about sports and make fun of Gibberman right here:

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