PHOENIX — If the Phoenix Suns thought they were through with the Morris family saga, they only had to wait two weeks into the new season for a reprise. The tattoo that rolls across Marcus Morris’s back, shoulder to shoulder, is a permanent reminder.
“We built this family on loyalty,” it reads.
Marcus is well-finished with Phoenix after his offseason trade to Detroit.
Twin brother Markieff would be better off gone, too, in his view.
“For sure,” Marcus said after Detroit beat the Suns, 100-92, on Friday night. “He’d be a better player, I tell you that for sure. I know that. The energy is not good here for him. He went through a lot of stuff this summer. He’s being a professional, that’s what he’s doing. That’s the type of guys we are. We are going to continue to play basketball through the thick and thin. This is our jobs. And that’s what he’s doing.
“Even if he is happy or not, he is being a professional.”
Markieff has never addressed his happiness level after several negative tweets this summer, and he said at Suns Media Day that he wanted to be in Phoenix.
Marcus isn’t so sure.
“I can’t talk for him, (but) he just doesn’t look right to me,” Marcus said. “I can see it. You’ve been around somebody for a long time, you’d be able to notice it. He just don’t look right in a Phoenix jersey to me.”
Someone said Markieff probably thought the same about seeing Marcus in the Pistons jersey.
“No, he thinks I look good in the blue,” Marcus said. “He likes that blue a lot on me.”
Marcus, who’s a big part in an offense for the first time in his five NBA seasons, wasn’t matched up against his brother except on two or three switches, one of which ended with Marcus hitting a three-pointer from the left wing over a closing Markieff.
Marcus had 20 points, six rebounds and two assists while helping the Pistons (4-1) open a seven-game road trip on a positive note. P.J. Tucker matched up against him most of the night.
Markieff finished with 18 points and four rebounds on 9-of-21 shooting for the 3-3 Suns, hampered by two fouls in the first 3:17. Big forward Ersan Ilyasova was his assignment.
The twins had never played against each other since becoming viable NBA regulars four years ago, and it was a strange sensation. They tried to take the emotion out of it, but that was impossible.
The game meant a lot more to Marcus, who felt wronged by the Suns when they didn’t give him a heads up before they traded him to the Pistons this summer as a way to clear cap space for an unsuccessful run at free agent LaMarcus Aldridge. Never mind that teams seldom do that.
Marcus said at the time he felt disrespected, and Markieff also tweeted during that time that he would never play for the Suns again. For that, he was fined $10,000 by the league for “a public statement detrimental to the NBA.”
“I wouldn’t call it revenge,” Marcus said. “I would just call it bittersweet. I was upset when I first got here to Detroit and I took it kind of hard, but I was wrong personally. Coach (Stan) Van Gundy has done a great job of making me feel comfortable. My teammates have done a great job of making me feel comfortable. I fit right in.”
Marcus is having the best of his five pro seasons, mostly because he’s getting to play. The Pistons like his ability to play the mid-range game and have left him on the floor to prove it.
Marcus is playing more than 36 minutes a game and is averaging 17.8 points and 7.2 rebounds.
“Marcus has played extremely well for us, and that’s all that really concerns us,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t think his game has necessarily changed. He’s just getting more opportunities with it.”
Morris is still shooting his same 44 percent from the field, but his time has increased by 50 percent after playing about 25 minutes a game last year and 22 minutes a game the year before.
“I have put it behind me,” Marcus said of his time in Phoenix. “I definitely wanted to beat them at home. I’m a Piston now. I’m here to stay. I enjoy my teammates. I enjoy my coaches. I am just trying to get off to a great start and trying to win. After this game, I really don’t want to talk about Phoenix any more. That’s in my past, and that’s it.”
Phoenix fans remembered the summer. Marcus was booed heartily during pregame introductions, and again the first dozen times or so that he touched the ball. The boos petered out as the game wore on as the Pistons sparked by Marcus and behind point guard Reggie Jackson held a lead for the final 42 minutes.
Suns fans booed Markieff when he criticized the home crowd for not showing enough support last year, and Marcus ripped the fans for their Friday effort.
“It was light. It wasn’t (bleep),” Marcus said. “If it was in Detroit, it would have been better. Detroit was booing somebody, it would have been way better. They (Suns fans) don’t even know what they’re doing. They don’t even know why they are booing. It was trash. I thought it would be a little better than that.”
The two played together at Kansas and for 3.5 of the last four years with the Suns, and Markieff obviously felt uncomfortable about the matchup, saying only, “It is what it is. I’m happy that we’re both playing.”
Afterwards, Marcus said of course he would like to play with his brother again.
He has one idea in mind.
“They’d love him in Detroit,” Marcus said.
Markieff hasn’t said that, but maybe he doesn’t need to.
“I talk for us both,” Marcus said.