Celtics

Celtics

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.”