Marcus Morris

And-Ones: Morris Trial, Kyrie, Pelicans, NCAA

The trial for Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris, who are accused of aggravated assault, got underway today in Phoenix, writes Terell Wilkins of The Arizona Republic. Jury selection for the trial, which will take place in Maricopa County Superior Court, concluded on Wednesday, and opening statements will be delivered on Monday, per an Associated Press report (link via ESPN.com).

The trial will be worth watching for fans of the Celtics and Wizards, since the Morris brothers would face suspensions from the NBA if they’re convicted — a violent felony results in at least a 10-game ban. Even if the Morris brothers reach plea deals, they could be subject to discipline from the league, with the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement empowering commissioner Adam Silver to decide on an appropriate suspension in that scenario.

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the NBA:

  • While many NBA observers were dumbfounded by Kyrie Irving‘s trade request, Warriors forward Draymond Green suggests he gained a newfound respect for Irving, as Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post details. “I don’t think people take into account that he put so much pressure on himself by doing that,” Green said. “He’s basically saying, ‘I’m ready to deliver.’ That’s big. That says a lot.”
  • The Pelicans have renounced their draft rights to 2011 second-rounder Ater Majok, according to RealGM’s log of official NBA transactions. New Orleans now holds the draft rights to just one non-NBA player — big man Latavious Williams.
  • The relationship between the NCAA and the NBA wasn’t always strong during David Stern‘s days as commissioner, but Adam Silver has struck a more conciliatory tone, and that’s beginning to show, writes Jonathan Givony of ESPN. As Givony explains, the invite list for a recent student-athlete symposium suggests the NCAA’s philosophy on preparing underclassmen for the NBA is evolving.
  • Using the NBA’s response to its DNP-Rest issue as a jumping-off point, Tom Ziller of SBNation.com makes the case that the league is too focused on marketing a small handful of star players, and ought to make an effort to showcase more stars in nationally televised games.

Celtics Notes: Irving, Horford, Morris, Smart

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers left the Celtics several years ago as Boston entered a rebuilding period, so he’s as impressed as anyone with how quickly the C’s have managed to retool their roster and become a legit contender. As Stephen Hewitt of The Boston Herald details, Rivers still has a fondness for Boston, along with many members of the organization, and admires the work the front office has done in recent years.

“[I] love Danny (Ainge), love (owner Steve Pagliuca), that whole group, and I just want them to do well. I really do,” Rivers said. “I love what they’ve done. I think the turnaround in four years starting with hiring Brad (Stevens). … (Ainge) and (assistant general manager) Mike Zarren have done the best job I’ve seen in sports in a long, long time of rebuilding. Maybe ever.”

Rivers also had praise this week specifically for the acquisition of Kyrie Irving. Attending a fundraising event in Boston, Rivers joked that he’d rather have seen Irving land in Los Angeles, but expects the young point guard to thrive with the Celtics.

“This is a perfect situation for him,” Rivers said. “The Celtics gave up a lot to get him, but he’s 25 years old and that’s the other thing people forget about: He’s so young. He’s going to be a star here for a long time.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge answered questions this week about completing the Irving trade, why Boston was willing to give up so much to get him, and how Irving and Gordon Hayward will mesh on the court (video link).
  • Although Al Horford spent a good chunk of last season playing power forward, the Celtics sound as if they’re leaning toward having him start the 2017/18 campaign at center, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe (link via Jay King of MassLive.com). That would allow Boston to start Horford alongside a power forward like Marcus Morris rather than a center like Aron Baynes.
  • A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com provides an update on the upcoming trial for Morris and his brother Markieff Morris, who face aggravated assault charges.
  • Marcus Smart, who is eligible for a contract extension this offseason, said this week that he’s lost 20 pounds since the end of last season and feels more “explosive” than he used to (Twitter link via Taylor C. Snow of Celtics.com). Smart also spoke about the trade that sent Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland, suggesting that losing Thomas “still feels unreal” (video link via CSNNE.com).
  • Michael Lee of The Vertical spoke to some of Irving’s old coaches, who believe the star point guard is ready to show that he can be a franchise player.

East Notes: Knicks, The Morrii, Wall

For the first time in over a decade the Knicks appear to be embarking on a genuine rebuild. It’s a changing of the guard, Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders writes, that extends beyond the literal fact that Derrick Rose is out and Frank Ntilikina is in.

After years of seeming to prioritize headlines over wins, the Knicks have a young core in place and a respected general manager that may just be up to the task of gradually building a winner.

While the Knicks’ decision to take Ntilikina eighth overall in the June NBA Draft will forever be tied to how well Dennis Smith Jr. (ninth overall) and Malik Monk (12th) fare throughout their careers, the 19-year-old represents the long developmental process inherent with a genuine rebuild.

Joining Ntilikina as anchors of the Knicks’ decent young core are Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez and even 2017 free agent acquisition Tim Hardaway Jr., Hamilton writes.

It may be some time before the Knicks end up back in the postseason but the fact that the franchise may, for now at least, be committed to rebuilding authentically as opposed to chasing shortcut solutions is a step in the right direction.

There’s more from the East:

  • Figuring to make the CelticsWizards rivalry slightly more interesting in 2017/18 is the fact that Marcus Morris, brother of Wiz forward Markieff Morris, will suit up for Boston. “I think we’ll still have that rivalry because we don’t like those guys and they don’t like us,” Markieff told Ben Standig of FanRag Sports. “I don’t think that should change with my brother on the team.
  • The Wizards came up short against the Celtics in their second-round playoff series but John Wall isn’t letting the fact that he went cold down the stretch. “Game 7 was not the way we wanted it to end, but I definitely went out swinging,” the guard told Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I didn’t go 0-for-0. I went 0-for-11. I shot the ball and played the game I wanted to play. At least I wasn’t being passive. I was aggressive like I was the whole playoffs. I can deal with losing that way and use that as motivation for this season coming up.
  • Despite going third overall versus Josh Jackson‘s fourth, Jayson Tatum‘s NBA 2K18 rating is one point lower, D.J. Bean of CSN New England writes. Bean reminds readers that the Celtics were unable to secure a pre-draft workout with Jackson, who ultimately ended up with the Suns.

 

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Cavaliers, Morris, Pistons

Suns guard Eric Bledsoe is adding fuel to the rumors of a possible deal to Cleveland by working out with LeBron James and newly signed Cavaliers guard Derrick Rose this week in Las Vegas, according to ESPN.com. Bledsoe is among several players who have been tied to Cleveland in the past week in rumored trades involving Kyrie Irving, but he has a unique connection by being a client of Klutch Sports, just like James and teammates Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith“I love everything about [the Phoenix area],” Bledsoe told Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic this week. “At the same time, I want to win.” A report Tuesday said the Suns wouldn’t be willing to part with first-round pick Josh Jackson in an Irving deal.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Today’s press conference with owner Dan Gilbert and new GM Koby Altman did little to calm the nerves of Cavaliers fans, writes Marla Ridenour of The Akron Beacon-Journal. Despite Altman’s assurances that the feud between James and Irving is “overblown,” there is clearly a rift between the stars and Irving’s trade request could sour team chemistry if he is not moved before the season starts, Ridenour adds. Gilbert and Altman both used the word “fluid” to describe Irving’s situation, and Altman admitted that he has been in touch with Irving’s agent.
  • Pistons guard Ish Smith understands the business side of the NBA that can result in losing a teammate and friend like Marcus Morris, relays Tony Paul of The Detroit News. During a public appearance today, Smith, who has played for 10 teams in eight seasons, commented on the trade that sent Morris to Boston in exchange for Avery Bradley. “It’s a business. You gotta move on,” Smith said. “I stand by Coach (Stan Van Gundy). I hate losing one of my good friends, but we’re excited about Avery and how talented he is, how good he is and what he brings.”
  • Van Gundy says the Pistons are done with major moves before the season starts, Paul adds. The coach believes the team has significantly improved its 3-point shooting by obtaining Bradley and Langston Galloway and drafting Luke Kennard.
  • Mike McCarthy, who has been the Bucks‘ chief operating officer for the past eight months, has submitted his resignation, according to Rich Kirchen of The Milwaukee Business Journal. McCarthy will serve as a consultant to the team.

Celtics Notes: Crowder, Morris, Thomas

The Celtics landed Gordon Hayward and Marcus Morris this week but the reigning Eastern Conference No. 1 seed isn’t comfortable yet.

Per a CSN New England report, president Danny Ainge is searching for further moves that can improve their roster this offseason. It’s just a matter of figuring out what those moves might look like.

Initially the report speculated that Ainge could be targeting rebounding, something the Celtics lacked in 2016/17, but the executive noted that he feels young forwards Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum could help in that regard.

Another area that Boston could address is their backup point guard position. That said, the team president also mentioned that he was currently impressed with backup point guard Terry Rozier.

There’s more from Beantown:

  • The Celtics have no intention of trading Jae Crowder, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe tweets. The forward had been floated as a possible component of a sign-and-trade deal to bring Gordon Hayward to Boston prior to the Avery Bradley deal.
  • Veteran point guard Isaiah Thomas told CSN New England’s A. Sherrod Blakely that he believes he’s a max contract guy and that the Celtics are aware that they’ll need to bring the Brinks trucks out to retain his services when he becomes a free agent next summer.
  • Newly added Celtics forward Marcus Morris comes with legal baggage and a CSN New England report breaks down the pending trial that will begin on August 21.
  • The Celtics wouldn’t have had enough Brinks trucks to retain both Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas, Chris Forsberg of ESPN writes, a harsh reality that led to the trade that sent Bradley to the Pistons.

Eastern Notes: Hardaway Jr., Celtics, Morris, Hawks

The Knicks‘ four-year, $71MM offer sheet to restricted free agent Tim Hardaway Jr. took many by surprise given that New York is prepared to make a lofty investment in a player the team recently traded. Yet, if the Hawks do not match the Knicks’ offer sheet, the team views Hardaway as part of a ‘core four’ alongside Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, and Frank Ntilikina, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

Hardaway, just 25 years old, is coming off a solid year in Atlanta, as he averaged 14.5 PPG and 2.8 RPG while shooting .455% from the floor in 79 games. Hardaway was originally drafted by the Knicks in 2013 but was dealt for Jerian Grant after two seasons in the Big Apple. If he does return, Hardaway will fit the Knicks’ current mold of a young, athletic player — something former team president Phil Jackson didn’t necessarily prioritize during his tenure.

As for Ntilikina, the soon-to-be 19-year-old will look to be a sponge in his first few seasons, learning from veterans and experienced youngsters. Bringing back a productive former member of the team would be a good first step.

Below are additional notes around the Easter Conference:

  • The Celtics have made major upgrades this offseason, none bigger than agreeing to a four-year deal with Gordon Hayward. However, general manager Danny Ainge is still not satisfied with the roster and will pursue upgrades, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald writes. The team created space for Hayward by rading Avery Bradley to the Pistons for Marcus Morris on Friday, and can now afford to be patient and consider the market before making any other deals.
  • Speaking of Morris, he will be a missed presence in the Pistons locker room, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press writes. After coming to Detroit from the Suns in 2015, Ellis writes that Morris’ attitude and intensity resonated with his teammates, fans, and the city of Detroit.
  • The Hawks have announced the hiring of veteran NBA coach Chris Jent. Jent, who played professionally for 11 seasons, has previously served on coaching staffs for the Sixers, Magic, Cavaliers, and Kings.

Celtics Trade Avery Bradley To Pistons

2:56pm: The Celtics and Pistons have sent out press releases confirming that Bradley and a 2019 second-round pick are headed to Detroit in exchange for Morris. The deal is now official.AveryBradley vertical

9:17am: The Celtics and Pistons are finalizing a trade that will send Avery Bradley to Detroit, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Shams Charania of The Vertical, Boston will also send out a 2019 second-round pick and will receive Marcus Morris in the swap.

Because Morris’ $5MM salary for 2017/18 is about $3.8MM lower than Bradley’s figure, the move will allow the Celtics to create the cap room necessary to finalize their maximum salary deal with Gordon Hayward, per Bobby Marks of ESPN. The club also has the $4.328MM room exception available for another free agent.

[RELATED: Gordon Hayward to sign four-year deal with Celtics]

Boston had reportedly been shopping Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Marcus Smart in an effort to clear enough space for Hayward’s new contract. With Bradley on the move, Crowder and Smart are poised to stay put, at least for now.

In addition to creating some cap space, the trade will add a power forward to a Celtics rotation that is in need of bigs. So far this offseason, the Celtics have waived Tyler Zeller and lost Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk in free agency, creating some frontcourt concerns for a team that already lacked reliable rim protection and rebounding. Morris isn’t an elite rebounder, but the 6’9″ forward has the ability to guard bigger players.

During his two seasons in Detroit, Morris missed just five regular season games, making 159 starts for the Pistons. He averaged 14.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 2.3 APG, with a shooting line of .426/.345/.763.

As for the Pistons’ side of the swap, the team had entered the offseason with a need for some backcourt depth and has now added Bradley and Langston Galloway. With Detroit’s payroll on the rise and its backcourt filling up, it will be interesting to see whether the team remains committed to retaining Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

By exceeding the taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Galloway, the Pistons created a hard cap of $125.266MM, significantly limiting their ability to match a big offer sheet for KCP unless they can shed a contract or two. Team salary is currently in about the $109MM range. For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (Twitter link) suggests the club’s talks with Caldwell-Pope haven’t progressed, and speculates that the team may make him unrestricted or decline to match an offer sheet.

Bradley, 26, enjoyed his best season in 2016/17 on a per-game basis, averaging new career bests in PPG (16.3), RPG (6.1), APG (2.2), and a handful of other categories. He also provided excellent perimeter defense and shot .463/.390/.731.

Although Bradley is a very solid pickup for the Pistons, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent a year from now, which is perhaps one reason the Celtics ended up moving him — Crowder remains under contract for three years, while Smart is a restricted free agent next summer and Morris has two years left on his deal, so the team retains some control on all three of those players. Wojnarowski suggests that the Pistons may be aggressive in pursuing a new deal for Bradley, who is extension-eligible, but the team’s cap situation limits its ability to give him a major raise before next summer.

Before agreeing to a trade with the Pistons, the Celtics reportedly talked to the Jazz about a sign-and-trade involving Crowder and to the Knicks about a deal that would have included Smart. Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter) that the Lakers and Clippers were “prominent in [Bradley] talks until the end.”

As an aside, it’s worth noting that the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement was put to good use in this deal. Under the new CBA, over-the-cap teams are permitted to take back 175% of their outgoing salary, plus $100K, instead of 150% plus $100K (up to a $5MM difference in salaries). In the old system, Detroit would only have been able to take back up to $7.6MM for Morris, but the new CBA allows the team to squeeze in Bradley’s $8.809MM salary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Central Notes: Pistons, Pacers, Stephenson

After a disappointing 2016/17 campaign, the Pistons will look to shore up their three-point shooting. So says head coach Stan Van Gundy, at least. Aaron McMann of MLive wrote about Detroit’s goal heading into the offseason.

We’ve got to shoot the ball better, there’s no question about that,” Van  Gundy told the media following his exit interviews with Pistons players.

Not long after, he’d go on to complain about the team’s regression throughout the season, as has become somewhat of a custom for the Pistons bench boss.

We just talked about that with our team. I think a lot of that can be internal development. [The Pistons] had virtually an entire roster that took a step back in that area this year.

There’s more from the Central Division:

Central Notes: Dellavedova, Irving, Carter-Williams, Pistons

Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes the loss of backup guard Matthew Dellavedova has been the biggest change in the defending champion Cavaliers, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Dellavedova was involved in a sign-and-trade deal with the Bucks this summer after agreeing to a four-year, $38MM contract with Milwaukee. Cleveland has yet to find a dependable reserve point guard to play behind Kyrie Irving“Dellavedova’s absence jumps out,” Kerr said. “I think he’s been a big part of their team in the last couple years, so it’s a different look.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Irving says he is “naturally an Alpha,” but is willing to continue the current arrangement with LeBron James for as long as possible, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. The pairing has worked out well for the sixth-year point guard as he and James joined Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen as the only players to win an NBA title and Olympic gold medals in the same year. “I just got to be great in the space I’m in for as long as I’m in it until there’s a change,” Irving said. “We all understand that as basketball fans, we want to see LeBron play for 10 more years and I would love to see that. I would love to play with Bron for 10 more years.”
  • After missing nearly two full months with left knee and left wrist problems, Bulls guard Michael Carter-Williams is expected to return Monday, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Carter-Williams has only played in three games since being acquired from the Bucks in a preseason trade. He was projected to miss four to six weeks after hurting the wrist October 31st, but had to have a cast put on it to help with healing.
  • Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris may alternate starts for the Pistons depending on the opponent, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Coach Stan Van Gundy has designated Jon Leuer as one starter at forward because of his defensive capabilities. Van Gundy apparently plans to use Morris as a starter when he needs better defense and Harris when he needs more offense. The coach had a talk with Harris after telling him he was coming off the bench just before shootaround Friday. “Tobias is a good man,” Van Gundy said. “He’s only 24; he seems older. He’s a mature man you can have honest conversations with and he’ll evaluate what you’re saying. There’s not a lot of excuses or anything. If you say something, he’s the kind of guy who’s going to think about it. May not always agree with you, but going to think about it and look in the mirror and try to get better. I appreciate that and I thought his character showed in his play.”

Stan Van Gundy Ready To Shake Things Up

DECEMBER 19, 11:42am: While Van Gundy and the Pistons may shake things up at some point, it doesn’t appear it will happen tonight. The Detroit head coach told reporters today that there will be no lineup changes for Monday’s game, per Keith Langlois of Pistons.com (Twitter link).

DECEMBER 18, 9:44pm: A lineup change could be coming as early as Monday for the Pistons, coach Stan Van Gundy told the media after his team was blown out on consecutive nights this weekend. Van Gundy has been exasperated by his team’s inconsistent play and the return of point guard Reggie Jackson from knee tendinitis has only led to more choppy performances. “There’s no question we’ve not been as good,” Van Gundy said. “We’ve played eight games, seven of them against teams below .500, and we’re 3-5. So there’s no question we’re not as good as we were before. That’s just a fact. Now, is that all on him? No. No, we have a lot of guys not playing as well.”

While Van Gundy didn’t elaborate on the potential lineup change, he really has only two viable options:

  • He could reinsert Ish Smith, who started while Jackson was rehabbing his knee, at point guard. Van Gundy isn’t sure if that’s the answer. “Even before Reggie came back, that starting lineup with Ish was outscored by opponents, too,” he said. “Not by as much, but outscored by opponents. So that has not been as good a lineup. We were surviving basically because our bench was coming in and outplaying people.”
  • He could move power forward Jon Leuer into the starting five and have either Marcus Morris or Tobias Harris come off the bench. Leuer has arguably been the Pistons’ most consistent player, averaging career highs in points (10.8) and rebounds (6.4). However, Leuer missed the 105-90 loss to the Pacers on Saturday with back spasms.

It’s clear that Van Gundy doesn’t intend to sit back and wait for the team to come around. “We’ve definitely gotta look at some things, lineup and rotation-wise,” he said. “That unit is clearly not working. At least not right now. “

Van Gundy also criticized his team for playing too selfishly in recent outings, with players more concerned about getting shots than getting back on defense. The players held a team meeting after the Indiana game to address that, as well as other issues.

“We’ve got guys upset they’re not touching the ball, and everything else, so they’re not as engaged in the game on the defensive end of the floor,” he said. “There’s all kinds of things that have to go into the game, and the ball has to move. There has to be an unselfish offense, and a committed defense, and the last two nights, there have been neither.”

Detroit is still just one game under .500 and one of many Eastern Conference clubs trying to find a way to go on a hot streak. But heightened expectations for the Pistons, who made the playoffs last season, have led to frustration over their mediocre play through 29 games. What changes should Van Gundy make to get his team going? Take to the comments section and give us your input.

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