Celtics

Jurors begin deliberations in Morris twins assault trial

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Jurors begin deliberations in Morris twins assault trial

PHOENIX - Defense attorneys told a jury Monday that the aggravated assault case involving NBA players Marcus and Markieff Morris in the 2015 beating of a former acquaintance is inexcusably and unforgivably tainted.

Prosecutor Thomas Bailey argued the Morris brothers had a motive to attack the victim and said the defendants "acted like high school bullies on a playground."

Jurors began deliberating the case after hearing remaining closing arguments from Bailey and attorneys representing Markieff Morris and the final defendant, Gerald Bowman.

The brothers are accused of helping three other people beat Erik Hood on Jan. 24, 2015, outside a high school basketball game in Phoenix.

Defense attorney James Belanger told jurors the case is tainted by Hood's mentor, who tried to solicit two witnesses to implicate the Morris brothers for a cash payment in return.

"That is outrageous," Belanger said. "And you should be outraged by that, and it affects every aspect of this case."

But Bailey stressed that Hood's mentor did not have any effect on witnesses' testimony, including the one made by the victim.

Those two witnesses testified about the mentor's attempt and their refusal to lie. They both went to break up the fight and placed the Morris brothers near the site but not as part of the altercation.

Belanger, who represents Markieff Morris, said the investigation done by police was "mediocre" and argued that the state's theory of Markieff acting as a lookout was "dead on arrival."

Belanger said neither of those two witnesses said they were threatened, or told not to go down to the fight by the Morris brothers.

Hood has known the Morris brothers since they were promising teenage AAU players, but they had a falling out.

Hood, 36, testified his relationship with the brothers became strained because of a misinterpreted text message he sent their mother. He said there was nothing "improper" happening with him and their mother.

Marcus was traded to the Boston Celtics in July and Markieff plays for the Washington Wizards.

The NBA players missed the start of their respective preseasons because of the two-week trial.

If they are found guilty, the Morris brothers face the possibility of probation or prison time and discipline from the NBA, including a minimum 10-game suspension. Markieff Morris will also be sidelined for several weeks after having a sports hernia surgery.

Defense attorneys have repeatedly said Hood lied to police nine times when he said both twins were involved in the assault. Hood later changed his statement to say Markieff did not beat him but had been in the vicinity.

Belanger said Hood needed to keep one of the Morris brothers involved in the case.

Bailey told the jury to consider the "money aspect" but also the fact that Hood was beaten severely by the defendants and that he wants them to pay.

Two of the other co-defendants pleaded guilty Sept. 13 to the same aggravated assault charges. The Morris brothers and Bowman have pleaded not guilty.

What will be the dominant storylines surrounding the Celtics this season?

What will be the dominant storylines surrounding the Celtics this season?

BOSTON – The barrage of questions for the Boston Celtics players will begin with Media Day on Monday.

As one narrative after another develops surrounding these players this season, they begin with some storylines clearly defined as issues that will be ongoing all year.

So, what are folks going to be talking about as it relates to the Celtics this season?

GORDON HAYWARD/KYRIE IRVING

Having missed all but the first five minutes of last season, Gordon Hayward’s return to the floor will be monitored closely, both by the Celtics and fans. And while Kyrie Irving did play 60 games last season for Boston, he did miss the team’s entire postseason run due to an infection in his left knee. Reports from both his teammates and coaches indicate that both Hayward and Irving are good to go to start the season.

MORE A. SHERROD BLAKELY

JAYSON TATUM

Drafted with the third overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, Tatum developed a lot quicker than many anticipated. For stretches during the regular season and the playoffs, Tatum shined brighter than any other Celtic, which you don’t anticipate being the case for someone so young on a team so deep. So what’s he going to do for an encore?

BULL'S EYE

Speaking of a deep roster, that depth remains one of the key reasons why so many anticipate this Celtics team to be the last one standing in the East. Their across-the-board talent, experience and no LeBron James in the East are all factors that put the Celtics as the team everyone in the East is aiming to knock off.

BRAD STEVENS

One of his greatest strengths has been getting the most out of what he has been left to work with roster-wise. This season is a little different from the standpoint of him having a team that on paper, should be one of the best in the NBA. That leaves very little room for Stevens to work his coaching wizardry and get more out of this group than expected. Still, it’s a good problem to have.

IRVING'S FREE AGENCY

No topic will dominant the discussion surrounding this team more than Kyrie Irving’s free agency. Several teams are expected to make a run at him, and Irving has given no indication as to which way he’s leaning as it relates to his future beyond this season. Try as folks will, Irving is not going to allow his impending free agency become an issue inside the locker room, in part because he’s just one of several Celtics on the cusp of free agency next summer. While he’ll certainly love the company, Irving’s future in Boston or elsewhere, will be the most talked-about topic surrounding this team all season.

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Who will be the Celtics' leader on the boards this season?

Who will be the Celtics' leader on the boards this season?

BOSTON – This Celtics team is built to play position-less basketball, a style that lends itself to offensive mismatches.

But the downside lies in rebounding, which can be more difficult with players on the floor for whom board work may not be one of their strengths.

That brings us to the Celtics, who showed most of last season that they can find success on the boards even with players who may not traditionally be viewed as big-time rebounders.

So, who will be the chairman of the boards for Boston this season?

AL HORFORD
He led the team in rebounding last season at 7.4 per game and comes in as the odds-on favorite to repeat. The 32-year-old’s versatility to play both around the basket and on the perimeter will keep him on the floor a ton. And that will give him the best shot at making his presence felt on the glass, which will be one of the areas Boston has to find success to have the kind of season they believe they're capable of delivering. He had 14 double-doubles in points and rebounds last season and came within one rebound of a double-double on 10 other occasions.

DANIEL THEIS


This is my pick to lead in rebounding, if it’s not Horford. Minutes more than anything else are what I believe would keep Theis from leading this team in rebounds. As a rookie last season, he led the team in rebounding percentage (.160) while grabbing 4.3 rebounds in 14.9 minutes per game. The 26-year-old started to show signs of becoming a 3-point threat, which bodes well for his chances at seeing as much playing time or even more, this season. And with increased minutes come a more impactful role, a role that will surely include him doing a strong job rebounding.

TERRY ROZIER


When you think of rebounding, 6-foot-2 combo guards don’t come to mind. But Rozier has already shown himself to be among the better rebounding guards in the NBA. With Boston having so many perimeter threats on the roster, that creates gaps and seams towards the rim that Rozier could easily slip into and do what he does as well as any guard in the NBA not named Russell Westbrook – and that’s rebound.

JAYSON TATUM
His length, deceptive athleticism and basketball smarts make him a player who could factor in the team’s rebounding efforts on a grander level this season. With Gordon Hayward (ankle) back in the mix along with Kyrie Irving, there’s a very real possibility that Tatum could be looked upon to become a better rebounder after averaging 5.0 per game last season. The key to Tatum’s improvement in this area will lie in his rebounding percentage numbers. Although he was fifth on the team in rebounds per game last season, his rebounding percentage (.091) was seventh among players who began the season in Boston and played more than half the season. Improvement in this area would do wonders for the Celtics.

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