Markieff Morris has been at the center of a series of problems this season for the Phoenix Suns (Mwinog2777/Wikimedia Commons).

Markieff Morris has been at the center of a series of problems this season for the Phoenix Suns (Mwinog2777/Wikimedia Commons).

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A season that began with so much promise appears headed downhill and fast for the Phoenix Suns. In a span of nine days, starting in late December, the Suns fell to the 76ers, lost Eric Bledsoe for the season, fired their top two assistants, surrendered 142 points to the Kings and scored just 77 points in a loss to the Lakers. With Bledsoe out for the season, Markieff Morris clearly wanting out of town and Tyson Chandler not fitting in, things are likely to get worse before they get better. Andrew Lynch, NBA coordinator at Fox Sports, helps us sort it all out. Some of the highlights of our talk can be found below:

5:13 – 6:26: On why the Suns’ defense has struggled: “Strong-side pressure defenses require that everyone be on the same page. You don’t necessarily need five above-average defenders. You need guys making above-average decisions…(guys) who are in the right places, who are not cheating outside of the system…and frankly Phoenix (doesn’t) have that. (With) Tyson Chandler…the hope was that he would help with the communication on that, …(but) he doesn’t necessarily have the experience in this system that will lend itself to telling guys where they need to be at all times…You need someone like Bledsoe at the point of attack…putting pressure on the ball…to force the issue when an offense is trying to get into (its) primary actions…Guys aren’t communicating well, and when they aren’t communicating, they aren’t necessarily in the right spots.”

7:55 – 8:29: On Jeff Hornacek’s job security: “All the indications are that the Suns like Hornacek. They think he’s a good coach…It seems like they are OK with just riding out this season and then parting ways…With Robert Sarver, I don’t know that you can…ever count on something going the way you expect…If the losses continue to pile up, he may decide that enough is enough.”

11:13 – 12:20: On the coexistence of Bledsoe and Knight in the Suns backcourt: “(Bledsoe) and Brandon Knight are an odd fit…They can work together, but the expectation is that it’s going to be a mediocre offense…with (unrelated) actions (between the two guards). Only 10 percent of Bledsoe’s baskets this season have been assisted by Knight…indicative of how little the ball is moving in this offense. That’s not to belittle Brandon Knight, who’s a very good player. I just don’t think the fit make sense here.”

15:02 – 15:29: On front-office strategy: “I think Ryan McDonough had a plan. They wanted to install the two-point guard offense, they wanted to push the pace, and they wanted to switch on defense…they didn’t execute that plan well, didn’t get the right personnel, and it seems like they’ve decided to change the plan. That’s fine. I worry that they haven’t completely fleshed out what the next plan is and have made rash decisions along the way.”

15:59 – 17:55: On Tyson Chandler’s disappointing season: “The ship has sailed on Chandler…It’s fair to expect the Suns to explore trades for him…brought Chandler on board with the expectation of luring LaMarcus Aldridge…no spacing in Phoenix without Aldridge and with Markieff Morris playing so poorly…Some of it is age and injuries piling up, but he doesn’t look engaged, and frankly, I can’t blame him…Wonder how much a change of scenery would help Chandler get back into the form that we expect from him.”

18:32 – 21:03: On the season-long Markieff Morris headache: “You have to cut bait with Markieff…Teams are looking to catch Phoenix at a low point and get the Suns to kick in an asset on top of Markieff Morris…If the Suns are willing to potentially package Morris with someone like P.J. Tucker, not necessarily Archie Goodwin, they might be able to get more assets in return. They’re going to have to think outside the box here…If you get an engaged Markieff Morris who is playing to his capacity, that’s a really, really good contract that he’s on. A savvy team has to be kicking the tires on a trade to see if they can bring him on…Once he’s in a place he wants to be in, he’s going to provide a lot of value for a team.”

21:53- 22:20: On owner Robert Sarver’s millennial comment: “Some specific players have trouble dealing with setbacks and adversity…maybe there are players in the Suns locker room for whom that’s true…but to frame it as a generational struggle strips it of any credibility.”

27:45 – 29:25: On the promise of Devin Booker and T.J. Warren and “silver linings”: “Booker is going to be phenomenal…a great 3-point shooter, so young, still so much that he can add to his game…impressed me on the defensive end, (although) a little aggressive…(but) that can be dialed back with the right coaching staff…T.J. Warren’s a really interesting guy to me because so much of being a wing in the NBA is being able to shoot a 3-pointer and he’s not a great shooter, but he’s such a great decision-maker. If you’re not an absolute superstar, the best skill you can have in today’s NBA is making good decisions…He’s becoming an even better cutter, which is his primary offensive skill now, and he knows where to be on defense…These young guys who are ostensibly going to be the core of the Suns moving forward are getting a chance to get out there and get some real playing time.”

30:37 – 31:12: On Bledsoe’s explosiveness and the potential impact of his latest knee injury: “Anyone who has gone out of their way to watch Eric Bledsoe, I think, appreciates his game and is very much entertained by him…it’s devastating when these explosive guys who have the capacity to become superstars get kinda shot down a little too soon. Not to bury Bledsoe. I am optimistic that he’ll come back at 100 percent…Knee injuries suck.”

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod