Marcus Morris

Central Notes: Lue, Love, Morris, Anigbogu

The Cavaliers started their Eastern Conference finals series against the Celtics today, aiming to reach the NBA Finals for a fourth straight season. At times, it seemed that the Cavaliers would not make it to this point of the season, evidenced by a series of roster moves, LeBron James pending free agency, and head coach Tyronn Lue‘s frequent changes.

As it turns out, Lue got the blessing of team president Dan Gilbert early in the season to tinker and experiment with different things throughout the season, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes.

“Dan Gilbert told me … you’ve gotta try new things,” Lue said. “Like, in business you gotta try new things. If it works, you’re a genius, if not, you change and do something else. I just think you gotta try things and kinda see how your team reacts to it.”

It was unconventional, but the Cavaliers were able to blow up their roster midseason and then win their first two playoff series.

Check out more Central Division notes below:

  • Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer writes that an effective Kevin Love will make the Cavaliers’ chance of advancing to the NBA Finals much easier. Love played well during Cleveland’s second-round matchup against the Raptors, helping the team sweep their way to the Eastern Conference finals.
  • Containing LeBron James in the Eastern Conference finals will be crucial for the Celtics if the team has any hopes of advancing to the NBA Finals. Big man Marcus Morris said before Game 1 that he is ready for the challenge of guarding James and feels he can do some successfully, per ESPN’s Chris Forsberg“I’m a little older, a little more experienced. Personally, I think I’m probably the best guy defending him in the league, outside of Kawhi [Leonard],” he said.
  • NBA.com’s Mark Monteith reviewed Ike Anigbogu‘s first NBA season after he taken by the Pacers in the second round last season. Anigbogu only appeared in 11 games but the 19-year-old showed promise during his scare opportunities, Monteith writes.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Richardson, Fizdale, Morris

Injured Sixers center Joel Embiid must pass through the NBA’s concussion protocol, but he has been free of concussion symptoms since March 29, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. That was the day after Embiid suffered an orbital bone fracture in a collision with teammate Markelle Fultz.

The team is hoping Embiid can be ready sometime during the first round of the playoffs. There are steps that Embiid has to meet before he can be cleared for full activity, but Pompey reports that the Sixers are confident he’ll be able to (Twitter link). Philadelphia has gone 5-0 without Embiid, but his 22.9 and 11.0 rebounds per night and his presence on defense will be important in the postseason.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Malachi Richardson envisions a long-term role with the Raptors, but for now he’s trying to prove himself in the G League, writes David Yapkowitz of Basketball Insiders. Richardson is averaging 7.2 points per game while helping Raptors 905 reach the championship series, which starts tonight. He has played just one NBA game since being acquired from the Kings in a deal at the deadline. He has one year left on his contract and is counting on a strong summer league performance to convince the organization he can be a rotation player. “I just have to keep getting better,” Richardson said. “From defending, making shots, fitting into a role, just finding my niche and getting good. Fitting in with the guys and getting better.”
  • When the Heat came to New York Friday, Dwyane Wade offered a suggestion if the Knicks plan to replace coach Jeff Hornacek once the season ends, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Wade advocated for David Fizdale, a longtime assistant in Miami, who fired earlier this season in Memphis. “He’s a phenomenal coach — everyone has seen that in the job he was able to do in Memphis [last season],’’ Wade said. “I definitely think his name will be in the running for a lot of jobs. He’s going to bring to a team his work ethic, a great offensive-minded coach, but has defensive principles from Miami [president] Pat Riley has installed in every coach that’s come here.”
  • Technicals have been an issue recently for Celtics forward Marcus Morris, who has been tossed from two games in the past week, but he promises to tone down his approach in the playoffs, according to Taylor Snow of NBA.com“I promise I won’t get any techs unless we’re just getting blatantly cheated,” he said. “I want my team to win, so I won’t put my team in jeopardy or anything like that. But I’ll still be passionate about the game.”

Celtics Notes: Irving, Gibson, Monroe, Morris

The follow-up operation that will keep Kyrie Irving out of the playoffs should fix his knee problem for good, although there is a slight chance of further complications, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Irving had successful surgery today, the Celtics announced, with two screws being removed that were used to repair the fractured patella he suffered in the 2015 NBA Finals.

The screws, which measure about four millimeters and were used to hold in place a tension wire that surgeons removed last month, had become infected. Deveney talked to Dr. Derek Ochiai, an orthopedic surgeon at the Nirschl Orthopedic Center, who explained that Irving’s condition can be easily fixed if the infection is localized, but is more serious if he has osteomyelitis, which would involve a slow-moving infection that began when the screws were first inserted.

“Best-case scenario, there is no osteomyelitis, no bone infection, no bacteria, and they’re taking the screws out as a precaution,” Dr. Ochiai explained. “Once he heals up and the screws are out, he’s fine. That’s best-case. But if there is an infection, you really should jump on that. Somebody who has had it for years, you’re looking at six weeks of IV antibiotics … and possibly other debris treatments where you have to clean out the bone more. You have to make those holes bigger to try to treat the infection. But you have to hope, he gets the hardware removed, and he is OK from there.”

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • New Celtic Jonathan Gibson became an instant fan favorite, relays Taylor Snow of NBA.com. Shortly after signing with the team, Gibson delivered nine points in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game. The offer was a surprise to Gibson, who was in Las Vegas when he learned about it on Thursday. “My agent called me and asked, ‘Do you want to go play for the Celtics the rest of the season?’” Gibson said. “I said, ‘Sure!’ and [director of player personnel] Austin [Ainge] called me and confirmed it. I was definitely excited. I called my family and let everybody know. Then I was on my way out here in the next couple of hours.”
  • Impending free agent Greg Monroe made his case for a new contract Friday by posting the first triple double for a Celtics center since 1987, notes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Monroe had 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over the Bulls.
  • Marcus Morris discussed his relationship with the officials after being ejected for the second time this week, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “I’m not trying to be a bully and get kicked out,” he said. “They need to realize that because I’m not really having conversations with the referees, I don’t have anything to say to them. They’re doing too much by throwing guys out the game.”

Injury Notes: Smart, Love, Ingram, Wall

Celtics guard Marcus Smart is making progress in rehabbing a torn ligament in his right thumb and hopes to be available for the second round of the playoffs, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

A cast on his hand was recently replaced by a splint with an opening at the top that allows him to move his thumb, and he has been able to do some light exercises with the injured digit. Smart tore the ligament earlier this month and underwent surgery March 16. His original prognosis had him out six to eight weeks, which sets a potential return about the time of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“Definitely right now, that’s what we’re shooting for,” he said. “The way it’s going now, we’re on the right path. Hopefully nothing happens where it gets delayed.”

There are more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Kevin Love has been placed in concussion protocol and will miss tonight’s game, the Cavaliers announced on their website. He suffered a front tooth sublexation last night and experienced concussion-like symptoms at halftime.
  • After missing nearly four weeks with a strained groin, Lakers forward Brandon Ingram expects to return tonight, tweets Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum Sports Net.
  • Coach Luke Walton says Lakers rookie Josh Hart has looked good in three-on-three games and may be cleared to play Friday, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • John Wall, who has been sidelined since having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in late January, may be able to return tomorrow, according to a tweet from the Wizards. Coach Scott Brooks said Wall will participate in the team’s shootaround and a decision will be based on how the knee responds. He is officially listed as questionable.
  • Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari is targeting Friday to return from a fractured right hand, relays Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. “I hope to play a few minutes against Portland [Friday],” Gallinari said in an interview with Italian outlet Sky Sport. “The hand is not completely healed, but we’ll see how I can help the team in the games left in the regular season. I will try to bite the bullet for the playoff race. The franchise asked me to grit my teeth and play. I will try to do that.”
  • After re-injuring his right ankle Monday, Celtics forward Marcus Morris will sit out tonight’s game, according to a tweet from the team. He will probably return Saturday, according to Himmelsbach (Twitter link).
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens provided an another update on Gordon Hayward, saying he’s still limited to the Alter-G treadmill and hasn’t been cleared to run on the court (Twitter link). “There will be nothing more exciting for him than being able to get back out on the basketball court,” Stevens said (Twitter link).
  • Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman may be cleared to return to action after a hip flexor injury. He tweeted an image of himself accompanied by the word, “finally.”
  • Jazz center Tony Bradley has cleared concussion protocol, tweets Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News.

Injury Notes: Ajinca, Neto, Ross, Morris, Williams

A lost season for Alexis Ajinca went from bad to worse this week, as the Pelicans big man underwent surgery on his left patellar tendon, according to the team (Twitter link). The procedure was successful and Ajinca is on track to recover in four to six months, which would allow him to return for the start of the 2018/19 season. However, it must have been a frustrating development for Ajinca, who underwent the same procedure on his right patellar tendon in December.

Here are a few more injury updates from across the NBA:

  • Jazz point guard Raul Neto remains sidelined with a left wrist fracture and will be re-evaluated one week from today, the Jazz announced in a press release. Dante Exum‘s return and solid play have allowed Utah to cope with Neto’s absence without any major trouble.
  • Injured Magic swingman Terrence Ross continues to recover from a bone bruise he suffered around the All-Star break, and may not make it back onto the court before season’s end. According to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link), head coach Frank Vogel said today that it’s probably unlikely that Ross plays another game this season.
  • Already hit hard by the injury bug, the Celtics saw Marcus Morris leave Monday’s game in the fourth quarter due to a sprained right ankle. As an ESPN report details, X-rays came back negative, so Morris may not be looking at an extended absence — that would be a relief for the C’s, who could use some good injury news.
  • After missing nearly the entire 2017/18 season with a knee injury, Suns big man Alan Williams returned to action on Monday night, putting up three points and five rebounds in 16 minutes. Williams has a non-guaranteed $5.52MM salary for 2018/19, so team management will want to take a close look at him down the stretch this season.

Celtics Notes: Smart, Irving, Morris, Thomas, McCarty

As indicated in previous stories, Marcus Smart is expected to miss about six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. The plan is for Smart to return to action should the Celtics make it to the second round of the playoffs and, per Chris Forsberg of ESPN, Smart is supremely confident that he will be able to return this postseason.

“I am confident [I’ll be back for the playoffs],” Smart said Monday night. “I had one of the top [hand] doctors do it. The surgery was a success… I’m real, real, real excited and eager to get back out there, whenever that is, hopefully it’s sooner than later, like I said. Hopefully the team can and, like I think they’re gonna do, is handle their business and have me back [in the postseason].”

Smart originally thought his injury was only a sprain, and even after further testing revealed more extensive ligament damage, he weighed non-surgical treatment options before finally deciding on having the surgery when doctors told him he risked further complications that might force him out of action for a longer period of time should he have tried to play before undergoing the procedure.

“The first [thing] was could I damage it any more?” Smart said. “When we went to get the second opinion, they said the same thing: The ligament is torn completely. There’s nothing else you can do. Then there was, ‘OK, could I possibly play with it and get the surgery afterwards?’ That came into play and when she said — the doctor pretty much said, ‘If it was me, I would get this now. The longer you wait, the harder it [will be] and cause more complications. So just get it over with and then there’s a possibility you could be back sooner than you thought.'”

There’s more out of Boston:

  • All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving plans on obtaining a second opinion later this week for his ailing left knee, tweets Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.
  • Marcus Morris was fined $15K for “verbal abuse of a game official,” it was announced today by the NBA. The incident occurred at the conclusion of the Celtics’ 19-point loss to New Orleans on Sunday.
  • Former Celtic and soon-to-be free agent guard Isaiah Thomas is willing to return to Boston next season, reports NBC Sports Boston. Asked on Twitter whether he would consider a reunion this offseason, Thomas tweeted, “Anything can happen.”
  • Celtics assistant coach and former player Walter McCarty will interview for the head coaching vacancy at the University of Evansville, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Born and raised in Evansville, IN, McCarty is looking to become a head coach for the first time after also having spent time as an assistant at the University of Louisville and with the Pacers.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Simmons, Morris, Celtics

Markelle Fultz missed his 64th game of the season on Friday, which means time is running out on the possibility of his return this season. The Sixers‘ first-round pick (first overall) has missed most of the season with a shoulder injury that seems to have inhibited his shooting ability.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown gave his most definitive answer about Fultz’s status for the remainder of the year, saying he is unsure if the young guard will be able to return, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

“I truly don’t know,” Brown said. “Here I am telling you that. It’s that whole truth and nothing but the truth. I really don’t know.”

While Fultz is out with a shoulder injury, the specific reason for his absence is to relearn how to shoot. Either way, the Sixers likely will not get a significant contribution out of Fultz until next season at the earliest.

Check out more notes out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers have Ben Simmons listed as both a point guard and power forward and head coach Brett Brown can see a path for the Australian to play at the four exclusively. While Simmons does not mind playing the power forward, he prefers being a point guard, Pompey writes in a separate story. “Nah,” Simmons said. “I don’t want to play the four. I mean I’ll play the four, but I don’t want to be predominantly in the four position. I feel like I can do a lot more from the point-guard position as you’ve seen.”
  • The injury bug has hit the Celtics hard in recently as Daniel TheisMarcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown suffered season-altering injuries. In the wake of those health issues, Marcus Morris is the first Boston player to step up and take advantage of his new spot in the starting lineup, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston relays. Morris scored 31 points on Wednesday vs. Washington.
  • The Celtics are without Theis, Smart, Brown, and Gordon Hayward and it’s possible the team explores adding a player to offset the losses. Per Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe (Twitter links), if a league doctor feels Brown could miss two more weeks due to his concussion, the Celtics could be granted a 16th roster spot to add another player. However, Boston is optimistic Brown will return soon, which would make the team ineligible for the hardship provision.

Celtics Notes: One-And-Dones, Hayward, Morris

The Celtics may represent the best example of one-and-done collegiate players thriving at the NBA level, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes, citing the recent success of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum as the reasons why.

I’ve been real impressed with our last two guys who came from college, played one year,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “They were obviously ready for a lot of the demands of the NBA.”

Of course not every player that comes out of college early can step up for their team out of the gates, Blakely mentions former first overall pick and current Celtics G League affiliate player Anthony Bennett as one particularly notorious example.

There’s more Celtics news this afternoon:

  • Although an image circulated today of Gordon Hayward not wearing an ankle brace, the timeline for his recovery hasn’t changed, Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston says. Per president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, the organization is still of the mindset that Hayward will play next year.
  • Since his return from a knee injury last month, the Celtics have been cautious with Marcus Morris. Now, NBC Sports Boston’s A. Sherrod Blakely writes, his minute restriction has been lifted.
  • While he could have made more money by continuing to play in Europe, Celtics rookie Daniel Theis didn’t want to miss his opportunity to play in the NBA. Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald spoke with the forward about his decision to come over.

Atlantic Notes: Morris, Celtics, Crabbe, McConnell

Celtics forward Marcus Morris will be back in action today after missing eight games with a left knee injury, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN. The knee has been an issue all season, as soreness caused him to miss the first eight games of the season. Morris is excited about the holiday matchup against the Wizards and his twin brother Markieff. “This has to be history,” Marcus Morris said. “First twins to play on Christmas against each other.”

There’s more news from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics‘ heated rivalry with Washington may not be the same after Boston’s offseason roster shakeup, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. The teams staged a contentious seven-game semifinal series in last year’s playoffs that seemed to cement a long-standing bitterness. But many of those Celtics are gone, Bulpett notes, and today’s game features not only a reunion of the Morris twins but a meeting of Jayson Tatum and Bradley Beal, two St. Louis natives who frequently encourage each other on social media. “We never hated anybody,” said Marcus Smart, one of the Celtics’ holdovers from last season. “I don’t think nobody really hates anybody. As a competitor, you just want to go out there and do everything you can to win. This game is 80 percent mental, and if you can get under your opponent’s skin early, you did half the battle.”
  • Allen Crabbe hasn’t provided the 3-point shooting the Nets expected when they traded for him, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn acquired Crabbe from Portland this summer, finally securing a player the organization signed to a four-year, $83MM offer sheet in 2016. A career 42% shooter from long distance, Crabbe has dipped to 36% since joining the Nets. “It happens. For me the biggest focus is stop settling so much,” Crabbe said. “I know I said the ‘shooters shoot’ quote, and we do. But me trying to find easier ones as well would help the confidence.”
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown was thrilled by T.J. McConnell‘s 15-point performance in today’s win over the Knicks, tweets Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The backup point guard, who has a $1.6MM team option for next season, has become a personal project for his coach. “He wears his heart on his sleeve,” Brown said. “I have a very antagonistic relationship with him. I coach him harder than I coach anybody. I’m so proud of him coming out of left field, being in the NBA, staying in the NBA and now playing in the NBA.”

Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Morris, Okafor

Kristaps Porzingis missed his second straight game tonight when the Knicks traveled to Charlotte to take on the Hornets. Porzingis also missed Saturday night’s win over the Thunder in the return of former teammate Carmelo Anthony to the Big Apple. Porzingis has now missed six of the team’s first thirty games and while, as Marc Berman of the New York Post reports, Porzingis understands that it’s a long season, his frustration is growing.

“It’s frustration,’’ Porzingis said. “I want to be on the court as much as possible. Sometimes my head is hot and I want to play even though I shouldn’t play. They have to calm me down and make me think with my head. This [season] is a long-term thing. I want to be on the court as long as possible.”

Porzingis is expected to return to the Knicks lineup for Thursday’s game against Boston at Madison Square Garden.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • In other Porzingis news, Liz Mullen of the SportsBusiness Journal reports that the Knicks‘ star will continue to be represented by his brothers Janis and Martins after former agent Andy Miller relinquished his NBPA certification in the fallout from the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. Per Janis, “Now that Andy does not have his license anymore, not much is changing.”
  • Celtics forward Marcus Morris received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his sore left knee on Saturday, and head coach Brad Stevens says Morris is already feeling better, reports Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. But while the news is generally positive, Stevens added that Morris will return slowly. “He probably won’t play every game, or obviously back-to-back games,” Stevens said. “A game, three days off, a game. Try it that way, and then progressing back to every other day. He won’t play back-to-backs for a while.”
  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post is reporting that the Nets want newly-acquired big man Jahlil Okafor to get into better basketball shape before he takes the court again for the team. Okafor played almost as many minutes in his Nets’ debut (23) than he had all season (25). While there is no timetable for Okafor’s return to the line-up, there is a strategic plan in place for that eventuality, per head coach Kenny Atkinson. “We need to integrate him more into the system. It’s going to take some time. I’m not going to give you a date but it’s a strategic plan, just like we’ve done with all our guys, integrating guys into the team. It’s going to take some time.”