The Associated Press reported Wednesday night that Marcus Morris and his twin brother Markieff of the Wizards will begin their trial for aggravated assault on Monday.
A long process of selecting eight jury members going back to August concluded, and now the fate of both will be decided in a Phoenix courtroom over a 10-day trial. A grand jury indicted the brothers (then members of the Suns) in April 2015, and they stand accused with three others of assaulting a middle-aged man two years ago. They plead not guilty.
The consequences could be dire if they are found guilty of a felony, with the crime carrying an average 2.5-year and maximum four-year sentence in prison. A misdemeanor conviction is also possible, typically carrying lighter sentences.
The immediate result of a guilty verdict is suspension. The NBA collective bargaining agreement mandates that a player convicted of a violent felony be barred 10 games at a minimum.
That’s one of many concerns for the Celts, who knew what they were getting into with Morris when they traded Avery Bradley to Detroit this summer. Morris has developed into a reliable three-point shooter, sturdy defender and versatile small/power forward who seems to fit like a glove in Boston’s system. He has two years remaining on his contract worth just over $10 million. Swapping Bradley for Morris allowed the Celtics to sign Gordon Hayward as well as retain Terry Rozier.
Those pluses came with this risk, and now the Cs are going to find out just how detrimental the charge on Morris proves to be. Darren Collison was suspended eight games to start last season following a plea deal in his domestic abuse trial. Blake Griffin received a four-game ban from the Clippers in 2016 following an altercation with a team trainer. The NBA worked in collaboration with Los Angeles on that incident and did not issue further discipline. Matt Barnes was barred two games for his infamous altercation with Derek Fisher. Adam Silver still has the power to impose suspensions for convictions below the felony level.
The league has come down on players for being involved in physical violence, but the court proceedings will play a large role in what direction the league will take. With Media Day in less than two weeks, the Celtics may have to wait until training camp opens to know for sure if Morris will be in their early-season plans.