Marcus Morris

Celtics Notes: Locker Room, Irving, Morris, Rozier

The Celtics‘ disappointing season may have split the locker room between veterans and some of the young players who helped reach the conference finals last year, suggests Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated (hat tip to Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston). The Eastern Conference favorites heading into the season, the Celtics are in fifth place at 25-17 as some players have been resistant to accepting new roles with the return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward from injuries.

“It does seem like there’s a divide in that locker room between the veterans on that team and the younger players on that team,” Mannix said Saturday on the Celtics’ post-game show. “I don’t know how big that divide is, how significant it is, is it fractured. But there does seem to be kind of a chasm that exists between those two sides.”

Boston is coming off a disastrous trip to Florida that included two losses and a pair of incidents that shined a light on the internal conflicts. Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown exchanged words during a time out Thursday in Miami, and Irving was visibly upset after an unsuccessful play at the end of last night’s game in Orlando.

There’s more today from Boston:

  • Irving seemed to take a shot at his younger teammates in post-game comments Saturday, saying the Celtics are lacking the “experience” it takes to compete for a title, relays Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston“You’ve got to appreciate being out there and just competing,” Irving said as part of a long answer on why the team has gone through peaks and valleys. “It doesn’t matter who you’re going against. It matters the type of preparation you have, what you’re going out and trying to accomplish. What’s the big picture? What are we doing here? These are things I don’t think some of my teammates have faced just every single day. It’s not easy to be great.”
  • Morris’ brand of leadership is exactly what the team needs, contends A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. In addition to being the Celtics’ most consistent player throughout the season, Morris has lived up to his reputation for being willing to confront teammates who he believes aren’t giving their best effort. “To be the team we want to be, we have to be open with each other and be able to discuss things that are going on, on the court,” Morris said. “If it leads to a little bumping, pushing and shoving … it’s nothing. You move past that type of stuff and keep going.”
  • Terry Rozier had another bad performance last night, missing all five of his shots in 17 minutes, and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge may have missed his best chance to trade him, writes Keith Smith on CelticsBlog. Rozier will be a restricted free agent this summer.

Eastern Notes: Pistons, Morris, Wood, Sixers

The Pistons’ top brass is expected to meet in Los Angeles today to discuss ways to improve the team, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reports. Owner Tom Gores, coach Dwane Casey, senior adviser Ed Stefanski and vice chairman Arn Tellem will discuss how to revive the playoff hopes of the floundering team and provide star forward Blake Griffin with a better supporting cast. Detroit got off to a 13-7 start but has lost 16 of its last 20 games.  A point guard and a wing player capable of creating offense top the wish list but the team’s cap situation makes it difficult to swing a deal, Ellis continues. The roster is littered with bad contracts and injury-prone players and the team is just under the luxury tax line, Ellis adds.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Tempers flared between Celtics players Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown during a second-quarter timeout on Thursday but GM Danny Ainge is downplaying the incident. The duo exchanged words and Morris, who apparently told Brown to play harder, shoved the swingman before Marcus Smart separated them, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Ainge told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe the altercation was no big deal. “It’s two good kids that are competitive,” he said. “They both want the same thing. Emotions happen in games, and I’m not worried about it.”
  • Bucks big man Christian Wood is relieved that the team guaranteed his salary for the remainder of the season, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. His $1,512,601 salary became guaranteed on Thursday. He has a $1,645,357 non-guaranteed salary for next season. The 6’10” Wood has appeared in six games with Milwaukee while biding most of his time in the G League. “It’s real nice,” Wood said. “I talked to (GM) Jon (Horst) before the deadline passed and he said my time is going to come, I’ve just got to keep working, keep staying with the program and keep doing everything I’m supposed to do. He thinks I’m a good fit for this team.”
  • The 76ers named Annelie Schmittel as the team’s VP of player development, according to a team press release. She will be responsible for creating, managing and overseeing the holistic development and implementation of programs that support professional and personal growth of players, staff and families. She spent the last three seasons with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.

Atlantic Notes: Hezonja, McCaw, Sixers, Morris

Mario Hezonja is seeing fewer minutes on the court this season with the Knicks, but that hasn’t stopped the 23-year-old from enjoying his time in New York, Steve Popper of Newsday relays. Hezonja is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

“No, no, no. I love New York. As I said, this coaching staff, I wish I had them in my rookie year,” Hezonja said. “I’m not saying anything about what I had. It was just rough and unfortunate situation what happened to me. I wish they were my coaching staff in my rookie year. We’d be talking a different story right now. 

“Yeah, I’m happy to be around them. Even when I wasn’t playing, I just said, how important they were for me and how much room I still have for growth, for learning the game and all that stuff, so it’s big time for me. I love this team. I love everybody over here. I was surprised as soon as I came here. I’m focusing only on here. This is not a typical BS talk. ‘I’m only thinking about this, I don’t know what it’s gonna be.’ I know. This is it. I love this. I want to be in New York.”

Along with Hezonja, other Knicks players set to reach unrestricted free agency this summer include Enes KanterNoah Vonleh and Trey Burke. Hezonja is averaging 7.6 points and 17.8 minutes per game on the season, shooting 40% from the floor and an underwhelming 29% from 3-point range.

New York is reportedly exploring trades for several players ahead of the Feb. 7 deadline, but Hezonja’s name has yet to surface as a candidate.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division today:

  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic examines how the NBA’s roster rules brought the Raptors to sign Patrick McCaw as a free agent. The Cavaliers waived McCaw days after signing him in restricted free agency, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent and sign with any team. McCaw is expected to provide backcourt depth for the Raptors as they ready themselves for a deep postseason run.
  • The Sixers still hope to re-sign Jimmy Butler this summer despite the team’s recent drama, ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes. Lowe provided details on Butler’s comments to Brett Brown at a recent 76ers film session, with Butler reportedly speaking up for himself and teammate T.J. McConnell. McConnell, who’s averaging 20.7 minutes per game, also voiced his concerns during the session when Brown asked if anyone else had something to add, Lowe notes.
  • Celtics forward Marcus Morris relayed the importance of winning as his major long-term focus, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports. Morris, who’s making $5.3MM this season, is also set to become a free agent this summer. “That’s all I care about; winning,” Morris said. “That other stuff, the big-money contract, being in the conversation for All-Star, none of that happens if you’re not winning. So for me, that’s what all this is about, keeping finding ways to win.”

Atlantic Notes: Musa, Horford, Atkinson, Robinson

Nets rookie Dzanan Musa will miss one month with a shoulder injury suffered last Sunday in a G League game, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Musa knew the injury would cost him time immediately, with the sharp pain quickly shooting through his arm.

“Oh yeah, because my arm just went off. I didn’t feel it for like five minutes,” Musa said, according to Lewis. “It was numb. [I couldn’t feel it], not at all. I felt like my arm was gone, so I was pretty afraid.”

The Nets released an official medical update on Musa last week, announcing that he’d begin rehabilitation immediately after being diagnosed with a shoulder subluxation. Musa has appeared in seven games with Brooklyn this season, spending most of the campaign with their minor league affiliate in Long Island.

Musa has held per-game averages of 20.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 16 NBA G League games this season, proving his worth as a young prospect. The Nets drafted him with the No. 29 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, making him the second-youngest player in franchise history.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division today:

  • Al Horford and Marcus Morris will make their returns on Sunday against the Hornets, head coach Brad Stevens announced. Horford will be on a minutes restriction and has missed seven straight games with patellofemoral pain syndrome in his knee, while Morris will return from a one-week absence due to knee soreness. The Celtics have lost three straight games and currently own a 18-13 record.
  • Nets coach Kenny Atkinson was fined $25K for verbally abusing game officials and failing to leave the court in a timely manner following his ejection on Friday, the NBA announced in a press release. The incident occurred in the fourth quarter of the Nets’ 114-106 loss to Indiana.
  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson is progressing in his rehab from a sprained left ankle, according to the team (Twitter link). Robinson has moved from an immobilization boot to an ankle brace and will be out at least one more week, with the 20-year-old missing the club’s last four games.

Celtics Notes: Storylines, Hayward, Brown, Assets

In a recent article, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston wrote about four storylines to watch in anticipation of the Celtics next game against the Knicks tomorrow night: offensive improvement while Kyrie Irving is on the bench, reintegrating Jaylen Brown, the long-term starters, and minutes to go around when everybody is healthy.

The Celtics own a team-best offensive rating of 109.6 when Irving is on the court this season, a figure that would place Boston in the NBA’s top ten. But when Irving sits, that number drops to 95, which would rank far below the Hawks’ league worst rating of 100.5.

Brown has missed the last three games after suffering a back bruise against the Mavericks a couple weeks back. He could start tomorrow night, but the team has won three games in a row with Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris starting, and head coach Brad Stevens may elect to keep that group intact.

Stevens’ challenge in selecting who to start is figuring out how to balance the lineup with the most talent, and thus the most potential, with the lineup that is giving the team the most success right now. Eventually, Boston might work its way back to the Irving-Brown-Jayson TatumGordon HaywardAl Horford lineup, but keeping Smart and Morris on the bench is a risk.

In the Celtics’ last four wins, they’ve been shorthanded, which some may argue shows that some players play better with more minutes. Terry Rozier has reportedly conveyed his displeasure with his playing time already this season, and as mentioned above, Stevens will need to balance playing time between Smart, Morris, Hayward, and Brown as the season plays out.

There’s more from Boston:

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald writes that Hayward’s struggle to reintegrate himself after last season’s horrific injury is also a result of how much the Celtics have changed since he arrived in the summer of 2017.
  • In another piece for NBC Sports Boston, Forsberg relays that Brown is open to coming of the bench in his return from injury. Brown downplayed the significance of becoming a reserve, and said he will embrace any role Stevens has in mind for him.
  • As we relayed yesterday, the value of some of the Celtics trade assets have depreciated a little this season, with the Kings, Clippers, and Grizzlies outperforming expectations and Brown not as impressive as many anticipated.

Celtics Notes: Rozier, Irving, Lottery, Morris

The Celtics should resist the temptation to trade backup point guard Terry Rozier, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. A report surfaced this morning that Rozier is dissatisfied with his reduced role and several teams are waiting to see if Boston decides to deal him.

Rozier had a breakthrough performance in the postseason after Kyrie Irving was sidelined by knee surgery. Rozier averaged more than 36 minutes per night, posted a 16.5/5.3/5.7 line and helped the Celtics reach Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. With Irving back on the court, Rozier is playing fewer than 23 minutes a game and his numbers have fallen across the board, which is bad news as he heads toward free agency.

Given Irving’s injury history, Rozier still has a lot of value in Boston, and even if he remains a reserve, he may be the most explosive scorer the Celtics can bring off their bench. Boston’s front office is confident it will eventually get value for Rozier, Forsberg adds, even if it’s in a sign-and-trade next summer.

There’s more Celtics news to pass along:

  • Irving has pledged to remain with the Celtics when he opts out of his current contract, but ESPN analyst Jalen Rose isn’t convinced that it’s a good fit, relays Adam London of NESN. Appearing on “Get Up!,” Rose said Irving is among the 12 most talented players in the league, but questioned whether his isolation style works on a team that emphasizes passing and cutting. He also suggested that Irving’s presence may be holding back younger players such as Rozier, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
  • In the wake of last night’s outstanding performance by Duke freshmen R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson, Forsberg tweets the lottery odds for the Kings’ first-rounder that will likely go to the Celtics. Despite Sacramento’s respectable start, Forsberg finds that it has a 99.9% chance of ending up in the lottery, an 82.1% chance of falling between picks two and 10, a 25% chance of being between two and five and a 7.5% shot at being No. 1. Boston will get the higher pick between the Sixers and Kings, but the choice is protected if it’s first overall.
  • Marcus Morris credits an offseason regimen of  flexibility training, deep-tissue massage and meditation for his hot start to the new season, relays Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. At age 29, Morris is putting up career highs in scoring and rebounding, along with career bests in shooting from the field, foul line and 3-point range.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Atlantic Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if those players’ stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Atlantic Division:

Spencer Dinwiddie, Nets, 25, PG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.9MM deal in 2016
Dinwiddie has been one of the biggest bargains in the league over the past couple of years but he figures to get a hefty pay raise next summer. Dinwiddie may not be the prototypical point guard but he can carry an offense at times. He’s averaging 14.9 PPG while shooting 48.9% overall and 43.5% from long range. He’s a career 32.5% 3-point shooter, so if he can establish himself as a solid long-range threat, he’ll be even more valuable. He had a 25-point outburst, all after halftime, and made the game-winning shot against his former team, the Pistons, on Wednesday.

Damyean Dotson, Knicks, 24, SG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $4MM deal in 2017
Dotson has a non-guaranteed salary next season. It’s hard to see the Knicks cutting a productive player on a dirt-cheap deal loose unless they hit the jackpot on a couple of top level free agents and need to open up more cap space. Dotson, a second-round pick last summer, has taken advantage of an injury to rookie Kevin Knox, scoring in double digits in each of the last six games. He’s also been a factor on the boards, averaging nearly six per game. Dotson has earned coach David Fizdale’s trust, though it will be interesting to see how much his minutes drop when Knox returns.

Wilson Chandler, Sixers, 31, SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $46.5MM deal in 2015
The Sixers were hoping that Chandler would be a key component of their second unit. They’re still waiting to see if that’s the case, as Chandler has yet to make his Philadelphia debut due to a hamstring injury. Chandler has been durable in recent seasons, appearing in at least 71 games for the Nuggets the past three seasons, but he’s at the point of his career where injuries could be a growing concern.

Marcus Morris, Celtics, 29, PF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $20MM deal in 2015
Brad Stevens has a lot of quality pieces to fit but Morris doesn’t need to worry about his rotation spot. He’s posting averages of 14.4 PPG and 7.4 RPG in 25.6 MPG off the bench while guarding three different positions. Those stats are even more impressive on a loaded team with a lot of mouths to feed. Morris is due for a huge pay increase after signing a team-friendly deal with the Suns three years ago.

Greg Monroe, Raptors, 28, C (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.17MM deal in 2018
Monroe is the type of player who’s getting phased out of the league. He’s a low-post scorer with slow feet who has difficulty making defensive switches. He’s made only two brief appearances with the Raptors thus far and will likely remain at the end of the bench unless injuries pile up. Monroe will likely have to settle for a similar contract in free agency next summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Atlantic Notes: McConnell, Vonleh, Morris, Fultz

The Sixers plan to let the season play out before committing to guard T.J. McConnell long-term, according to Keith Pompey of Philly.com. McConnell is eligible for a contract extension, with the 26-year-old set to reach free agency in July on his current deal.

The 76ers have held brief discussions on possibly extending McConnell, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (podcast link), although the sides appear unlikely to reach an official agreement. Philadelphia hopes to keep space for a maximum-salary player in the summer of 2019, when talents such as Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard become free agents.

Several teams have expressed interest in trading for McConnell, including the Suns, Pompey wrote. Philadelphia recently rejected a trade proposal from Phoenix that included a second-round pick.

In 76 games with the Sixers last year, McConnell held per-game averages of 6.3 points, four assists and three rebounds in 22.4 minutes per contest. He scored four points and dished out three assists in Tuesday’s loss against Boston.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • New Knicks forward Noah Vonleh explained his decision to sign with the team this week, as relayed by Zach Braziller of The New York Post. “I felt like this was great spot for me, great opportunity,” he said. “Young team, being able to play with a bunch of guys around my age, a bunch of guys who have been in similar situations as me, being former lottery picks, teams giving up on them pretty quick. I felt like it was a good group to come join.”
  • Marcus Morris is prepared for the uncertainty that comes with earning minutes on the Celtics, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Morris could be asked to play major minutes on some nights, and significantly less minutes on other nights. “The only thing I can do is go out there and be effective with the minutes I’m given and that’s my whole motto during the season,” he said.
  • The Sixers could find more success by playing Markelle Fultz off the bench, Marcus Hayes of Philly.com opines. Fultz started in the first half on Tuesday, then came off the bench in the second half behind J.J. RedickHe finished with five points on 2-7 shooting from the floor.

Celtics Notes: Irving Trade, Hayward, Morris, Brown

One year has past since the Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving to the Celtics, and the aftershocks are continuing throughout the league, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Irving demanded a deal last summer because he was tired of being in LeBron James‘ shadow in Cleveland. He wound up going to Boston in a move that may have launched a rebuilding project for the Cavs and set the Celtics up to be an elite team for several years.

The final deal sent Irving to Boston in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s unprotected first-rounder that became Collin Sexton. The Cavaliers received a 2020 second-round pick as added compensation when they claimed Thomas’ hip was in worse shape than they were led to believe.

The addition of Irving changed the Celtics’ prospects, Blakely notes. It gave them more size in the backcourt and ended the need to compensate for Thomas on defense. It upgraded the talent level and gave Boston a chance to compete with the Warriors if they should meet in the Finals. And it validated Danny Ainge’s decision not to go all in with trade offers for Paul George or Jimmy Butler earlier in the summer.

There’s more tonight from Boston:

  • Gordon Hayward has made significant progress in recovering from a severe ankle injury, but his greatest challenges still lie ahead, Blakely notes in a separate story. Blakely talks to Chauncey Billups and Reggie Jackson, who have both been through long rehab processes, about the difficulty involved. “You’re a shell of yourself when you first come back,” Jackson said. “That’s the toughest part … every player that makes it here, has some type of greatness. So, you can’t be that until you’re full-go again.”
  • Marcus Morris is the latest NBA player to speak out about mental health issues, sharing his story with Jackie MacMullan of ESPN in her five-part series running this week. Morris discusses the trauma of growing up in a violent North Philadelphia neighborhood and said he never sought help until Ainge and coach Brad Stevens urged him to see a psychologist. “I know lots of guys who are dealing with some kind of anxiety and depression — not knowing if they have a job next season, not knowing if they’re going to get traded,” Morris said. “It’s so stressful. Everyone is pulling at you. They want your time, your money, a piece of your fame. … If you have depression, you should be trying to get rid of it instead of bottling it up and letting it weigh on you and weigh on you and weigh on you.”
  • Jayson Tatum looks ahead to training camp and talks about his offseason work with Kobe Bryant in a question-and-answer session with Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

Morris Twins Change Agents

Markieff Morris of the Wizards and Marcus Morris of the Celtics are preparing for free agency next summer by changing their representatives, tweets Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.

Both players signed with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group, who is best known as the agent for LeBron James. Paul has a number of other high-profile clients, such as John Wall, Ben Simmons and Eric Bledsoe.

Markieff Morris has spent the past two-and-a-half seasons in Washington after being acquired in a trade at the 2016 deadline. A seven-year veteran, he will make $8.6MM in the final season of a four-year, $32MM contract.

Marcus Morris has also been in the league seven years and is coming off his first season in Boston after being traded there by the Pistons last summer. He has a $5.375MM salary for 2018/19 in the final season of a four-year, $20MM deal.