WALTHAM -- The wait is finally over for Marcus Morris, who joined his new team for the first time on Thursday.
Marcus Morris along with his twin brother Markieff were both acquitted of assault charges on Tuesday, stemming from a January 2015 incident in Phoenix.
Thursday was the first time this season Morris was able to practice with his new teammates.
Morris said it’s “a big relief” to have this finally behind him.
“For a second, I felt like it was killing my character,” Morris told reporters on Thursday. “For a lot of people that don’t know me, just to get acquitted of everything . . . now being a Boston Celtic, that’s all I’m looking forward to.”
The feeling is mutual.
“He’s going to be a big part of the team this year,” said Mike Zarren, Boston’s assistant general manager. “We’re happy to have him back here.”
Even though Morris has just one practice under his belt, coach Brad Stevens said the 6-foot-9 forward will play on Friday at Philadelphia, which is Morris’ hometown.
“I’ll see how he feels. This was his first practice; it was a hard practice,” Stevens said. “He also came in at nine in the morning and went through a series of drills with our younger, younger players. I thought he had a good day.”
And while he hasn’t been with the team very long, Stevens was pleased at how well he seemed to pick up things on Thursday.
“You can tell a guy that’s played in the league for a long time; been coached really well at every level,” Stevens said. “We tried to keep him as up to speed over the last 10 days or so. I thought he transitioned pretty smoothly.”
Morris added: “Brad’s done a great job of sending guys down to kind of put me through the offensive and defensive principles.”
And it is the latter -- defense -- that should get Morris on the floor sooner rather than later, potentially as a starter.
“He played a large amount at the three (small forward) for Detroit,” Stevens said. “He’ll play a much bigger amount at the four (power forward) for us.”
Despite being a bit undersized to play power forward, the Celtics have no major concerns with putting him there.
“Right off the bat, the things that stand out for him is versatility, physicalness, an element of toughness, a guy that can switch and guard different positions,” said Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry. “Also, being able to help you rebound on the defensive glass. Those things stand out right from the start.”
If Morris eventually becomes a starter, Al Horford would slide over to the center position while the rest of the starting five would consist of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and either Jaylen Brown or Marcus Smart.
Boston ranked 12th in the NBA in defense last season, but is trying to fill huge voids left by trading away Avery Bradley (to Detroit for Morris) and Jae Crowder (Cleveland).
But the addition of Morris will help soften that blow now that his court case is in the past and his future with the Celtics, is about to start.
“It was very difficult,” Morris said of not being able to be with the team the first few weeks of training camp. “I love playing basketball. Just for me to come to a new place and not be able to be one of the first guys there, just learning . . . it’s a little though but that’s behind me. I’m ready to play, ready to get going.”
BOSTON – With all the changes the Celtics went through over the summer, seeing more rookies on the floor this season was a given.
Yes, only three games into the season and the Celtics have played more rookies than any team under fifth-year coach Brad Stevens.
And in the 102-92 victory at Philadelphia on Friday night, the Celtics (1-2) played almost as many first-year players (five) as veterans (six).
The youth movement here in Boston has been sped up a bit by the season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward, compounded by a left ankle sprain to Marcus Smart that Smart said won’t keep him out any more than Friday night in Philly.
Even if Smart is back in the Celtics lineup Tuesday night against New York, that doesn’t change the fact that Boston will continue to need rookies to step up and contribute going forward as they did on Friday.
And while there’s an old adage about experience being the greatest teacher, Boston’s youngsters are going to have to fast-forward past some of those on-the-floor growing pains for the Celtics to stay among the top teams in the East.
“Everybody talks about young players having to learn by going through experience,” said Stevens. “Why don’t we just watch film and learn? Learn from things we can control and in the interim, let’s beat the age thing. Let’s not talk about the age thing. Let’s talk about how we can be better at what we can control and how we can learn and grow every day and expedite the learning curve.
Stevens added, “because they are going to get opportunities all the way down the line, let’s not focus on trying to learn from experience; let’s focus on learning from every day and see if we can get a little bit better every day.”
The one rookie who has had no problem adjusting to the NBA game early on has been Jayson Tatum.
Selected with the third overall pick last June, Tatum has been among the NBA's most productive rookies in this first week of the season.
Tatum’s 35.3 minutes played per game is tops among all rookies. His 12.3 points and 9.0 rebounds rank seventh and fourth among his first-year brethren.
Stevens loves what he has seen thus far from Tatum, but believes he’s capable of making an even greater impact sooner rather than later.
“I like him to shoot it on the catch more,” Stevens said. “Because he has tremendous touch. When he shoots it in rhythm with confidence, the ball finds the net. He’s one of those guys; he’s a natural scorer. But his ability to read the game … he’s very intelligent. It’s been more evident on the defensive end. He’s gonna pick his spots offensively now. But we want him to be aggressive and first and foremost, be a threat to shoot it every time he catches it.
Stevens added, “I guess it should feel pretty good when you’re 19 years old and your coach is begging you to shoot it.”
How quickly Tatum and the rest of Boston’s youngsters grow into the roles they will be asked to play this season can do nothing but help the Celtics adapt to what has already been a season with major changes needing to be made.
“You saw [against Philadelphia], we had Shane [Larkin], we had Guerschon [Yabusele], we had guys coming in that played the game at a high level and we need them to contribute,” said Boston’s Kyrie Irving. “For me to see that and witness that, it makes me nothing but proud and happy to have teammates that are ready to play. It’s not always going to look perfect because we’re still gaining knowledge about one another. But as long as we’re out there competing, having each other’s backs, that’s all that matters.”
BOSTON – As expected, the NBA has fined Celtics guard Kyrie Irving $25,000 for using “inappropriate language” toward a fan at the Friday night game in Philadelphia.
The incident occurred at halftime as Irving and his teammates were heading to the locker room, trailing by four. Boston went on to win 102-92 for their first victory of the season.
A fan yelled, “Hey, where’s LeBron?” to which Irving replied with a lewd suggestion to the yeller.
The Celtics practiced on Saturday with Irving addressing the incident.
When asked if he had any regrets about the incident, Irving replied, “Hell no. Man enough to record it on video, that’s on him. I’m glad he got his ad name out there, and his five seconds of fame and it’s gone viral. That’s social media platform we live on.
Irving added, “I take full responsibility for what I said. You move on.”
When asked about the incident on Saturday, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he had not seen the video but was aware of it.
“People make mistakes; hopefully learn from them and move on,” Stevens said. “There’s a right and wrong. And if you’re in the wrong you have to own up to it and that’s that.”
It was the second such fine levied by the league in as many days.
New Orleans center DeMarcus Cousins was fined $25,000 for "inappropriate language" toward a fan when the Pelicans lost 103-91 at Memphis on Wednesday.