Now that Marcus Morris has been found not guilty on charges of aggravated assault, it’s time for him to return his focus back to basketball.
Having missed all of training camp, as well as the Celtics’s first preseason game this past Monday, Morris has a lot of catching up to do and only a short amount of time to do it.
Boston opens its season in just 12 days, and the Celtics expect Morris to play a sizable role for them this season. But for that to happen he’ll obviously need to be on the same page as not just his teammates but also the head coach. So far, Morris doesn’t seem to think it will be an issue thanks to the extra time he’s spent learning the ins and outs.
“Brad’s done a great job of sending guys down and helping me kind of through the offense and defensive principles,” Morris said at an impromptu introductory presser on Thursday. “Just coming in with a combination of players and learning everybody; learning their strengths and what they like to do. It’s pretty easy. I’m a veteran now in this league [and] Brad’s stuff is really simple. It’s motion basketball. It’s really easy and, for the most part, I know everything. Some things watching on film I get it real easy.”
Entering his seventh season, Morris has experienced a lot during his career, playing in different systems with Houston, Phoenix and Detroit while occupying a variety of roles, so it’s no wonder that he’s picking things up rather quickly. His role with the Celtics will be pretty straightforward: shoot threes and lock down on defense, similar to what he did for the Pistons over the last two years, except he’ll slide up a spot in Boston.
“I feel like I can fit in anywhere,” Morris said. “I’m a guy that you can put in different positions. I’m playing the 4 this year; I played the 3 the last two years, so I think it will be easy. I think playing these guys over the years they pretty much know what I can do.”
Morris has also taken the liberty of assigning himself an additional role: team bully.
“I have to be the tough guy on the team,” Morris said with a slight smile. “Guys knocking my guys down, I can’t have that. It’s going to be my role to be the bully and I’m accepting it.”
Serving as the Celtics’ enforcer shouldn’t be hard for Morris. Though quiet off the court, he has no problem letting you know exactly how he feels on it. His 35 career technical fouls speak for themselves, including a personal-best 11 during the 2015-16 season.
“When I step in between the lines I can’t really be quiet, it’s just hard,” Morris explained. “Off the court I’m cool, but when I’m on the court, technical fouls. I kind of dumbed it down last year (he had six), but the year before that I was like top-three [in the league]. It depends on how hard they’re fouling, what fouls they’re calling because, like I said, I’ve got to protect my guys out there.”
Before he can do that, though, Morris is going to need to re-familiarize himself with the guys who are actually on his side. When the Celtics traded for him, the Isaiah Thomas/Kyrie Irving trade hadn’t happened yet, and, when it did, Morris wasn’t sure how to feel.
“Initially I probably felt like how everybody else felt,” he said. “I had a great relationship with IT and Crowder, a lot of those guys—even Avery Bradley. I didn’t know but it’s nothing I could dwell on. I’m a professional NBA player and I have to play with the guys we got and it’s not like we didn’t get nobody. We got Kyrie Irving.”
Regardless of who’s suiting up alongside him, Morris is just happy to be here in Boston and is looking forward to getting things underway.
“It was very difficult [not being able to be here because of the trial],” Morris said. “Just for me coming to a new place and not being able to be here and be one of the first guys here and just learning everybody, it’s a little tough. But it’s behind me; I’m ready to play and ready to get going. It’s a privilege to be a Boston Celtic.”