Does Markieff Morris' Untapped Potential fit into the Ainge/Stevens System?

MASSLIVE - Since Markieff Morris requested a trade earlier this summer, his situation has become one of the NBA's unresolved stories. While the Phoenix Suns have indicated they still want to keep him, he does not like that plan. He even got fined for a recent tweet stating his future would not be with his current club.

If the Suns change course and decide to move on from their grumpy power forward, Morris' availability would make for some interesting conversations in rival front offices. The 26-year-old is a starting power forward on a cheap contract who could be available at a discount because of his recent displeasure (not to mention felony charges earlier this year). He could help many teams, but nobody seems to be jumping up with an offer Phoenix would consider. The situation's complicated.

Jay King of MassLive, you’ve nailed it. This situation is complicated. We’re probably only getting the tip of the iceberg, too.

As the Celtics are rebuilding and looking for value at every single turn, my ears perked up as soon as I heard Chief Kieff wanted out of Phoenix, and of course I began to speculate:

  • He fits one of Danny Ainge’s buy-low-on-high-potential contract model almost perfectly-- a player with potential upside on a fair contract that is built to move (until it’s unmovable). 
  • The Celtics currently have 16 men on the roster and need to get down to 15. Trades are a good way to clean up roster problems. 
  • President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge has history with Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough; prior to Phoenix, McDonough served as head of international scouting and assistant general manager in Boston under Danny Ainge. 

 The Suns-- like the Celtics-- are nowhere near where they need to be to compete long term but they are getting there. They’re chipping away at it and have arguably a much harder road to hoe given that the Western Conference is insanely competitive. I'll spare you the trade machine screen grabs of deals that might just work for both teams.

Ok just one:

Trading a player who has publicly stated, “I WANT OUT OF PHOENIX” for two expiring contracts of players that can contribute starter minutes on bench player salaries is a great move for both squads. Even if he does badly want out of Phoenix, Morris is not going to go for cheap. The one thing that Boston has-- if my Sullinger/Turner combo isn't enough-- is options.

With more picks than anyone and a loaded roster, there is more than enough on the theoretical table for Boston and Phoenix to have a cup of coffee and discuss. As detailed by an article for ESPN Insider, Kevin Pelton listed Boston as a potential trade partner, calling them "in many respects ... the ideal suitor for Morris."

On paper Morris is exactly the kind of guy that the Celtics should be targeting. As succinctly put by Jay King (paraphrasing Grantland’s Zach Lowe):

While the 26-year-old has flaws like sub-par outside shooting, overzealous twin missing, unimpressive foul drawing and an unwillingness to play hard at all times (something his coach, Jeff Hornacek, readily admits in the piece), he has untapped potential even at his age. If he learns how to knock down jumpers and provide consistent hustle, his production will shoot to another level.

Seeking out ‘untapped potential’ in trades is more or less the team motto for the Danny Ainge Front Office Squad. If Brad Stevens and the Celtics system he’s building were able to extract some of that potential, his $8MM per year contract would be one of the best deals in the entire league.

The other side of the coin is of course do the Celtics need/want Markieff Morris, and if so at what cost? The Suns would probably be just as interested in picks as they would be in players, so the question becomes is an upgrade at power forward worth a first round pick? While Danny Ainge and the Celtics front office were allegedly willing to give up a combination of those looking-like-lottery-tickets Nets picks to move up in this year’s draft, I am not sure they’d be willing to give up a similar amount for a marginal upgrade their most overstocked position.

Beyond the issues of a crowded front court and the potential asking price for Morris, there’s also the issue of a felony charge both Morris twins are facing. As detailed by The Bright Side of the Sun on September 12th:

A trial is set to start in less than three weeks - two days after training camps open - unless Morris' attorneys magically find a way to get the charges dropped after all this time. A judge will rule next Wednesday on their request to reconvene the grand jury that brought charges in the first place, but if the evidence against the Morrii were iffy it seems a plea bargain or dropped charges would have happened by now. Why wait to do all this until the beginning of the season is in jeopardy?It's really important to the Morris twins that charges be dropped entirely.Otherwise, even a plea bargain down to misdemeanor assault could significantly impact their 2015-16 season if not much longer thanks to a league suspension.

Not great.

The potential is there in Morris, but it’s also there in Amir Johnson, Jared Sullinger, David Lee, Tyler Zeller, and Kelly Olynyk. For what the Celtics lack in a superstar, they are overflowing with untapped potential. The Celtics-- for the first time since the rebuild began-- are in a position to sit back and wait for the perfect situation to present itself.

Get ready for a season full of speculative articles and trade rumors, team. The wheeling and dealing is going to be coming fast and furious until the All-Star Break.

Follow Padraic O'Connor on Twitter @padraic_oconnor

Sources: Jay King, MassLive
Sources: Zach Lowe, Grantland
Sources: Bright Side of the Sun
Sources: Paul Colahan, CelticsLife
Sources: Kevin Pelton, ESPN
Sources: Getty Images