Marcus Morris relieved to have legal troubles behind him, eager to get up to speed with Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris said Thursday he's relieved to have his legal troubles behind him and is eager to get up to speed with his new team before the start of the regular season.

A Phoenix jury acquitted Morris and his twin brother, Markieff of the Washington Wizards, on Tuesday in an aggravated assault trial. The Morris brothers, 28, were on trial for two weeks on a charge that they helped three other people beat a 36-year-old man in January 2015 outside a high school basketball game in Phoenix.

Morris, dealt to Boston in July in a deal that sent Avery Bradley to Detroit, missed the first eight days of Celtics training camp, which included their exhibition opener on Monday night. Projected as a possible frontcourt starter, Morris has less than two weeks to get acclimated before Boston's regular-season opener on Oct. 17 in Cleveland.

"It was very difficult," Morris said of the past two weeks. "I love playing basketball. Just for me to be coming to a new place and not being able to be there, one of the first guys there, just learning everybody -- it's a little tough, but that's behind me. I'm ready to play. I'm ready to get going."

Asked about having been cleared by a jury, Morris added, "It's a big relief. For a second, I felt like it was kind of killing my character for a lot of people that don't know me. So just to get acquitted of everything and now be a Boston Celtic, that's all I'm really looking forward to."

Morris said he expects to play in Boston's exhibition game on Friday night in Philadelphia but believes he'll only play short bursts while getting back in game shape. Asked about his conditioning after his first practice with the team, Morris said, "I'm OK. I'd like to be a lot better."

The Celtics dispatched staffers to Phoenix to work out Morris each day before he went to the courtroom. Morris said those sessions helped him learn the offensive and defensive principles of coach Brad Stevens' system.

"You can tell a guy who has played in the league for a long time," Stevens said after Morris' first practice. "He's been coached really well at every level. We tried to keep him as up to speed as we could over the last 10 days or so. I thought he transitioned pretty smoothly.

"He'll play [Friday]. I'll see how he feels. This was his first practice. It was a hard practice. He also came in at 9 in the morning and went through a series of drills with our younger, younger players. He had a good day."

Morris suggested that, during the trial, he was more worried about missing time with the Celtics than possible jail time had he been found guilty.

"I never really was concerned," Morris said. "Mainly just missing training camp and the start of preseason were my only real concerns. About the case, I never really was concerned. I knew it was going to come out in the end. I'm a good guy, man. So I never really got down on myself. I never really was concerned. I'm more concerned about being here than anything."

Morris, who attended some of the Wizards' home playoff games last spring to root for his brother, said he didn't come to Boston during the East semifinals because he wasn't sure how he'd be received while rooting for the opposition. But he admitted to being jealous of watching the hard-fought, seven-game playoff series.

Boston's roster looks much different now, and he's eager to help a team with only four returning players forge a new identity.

"I was watching it when I was in Washington. It was pretty crazy," Morris said. "I would have loved to be a part of something like that. When I played against Boston in past years, [Jae] Crowder and [Isaiah Thomas], there was a lot of [smack]-talking. I would have loved to be a part of that.

"Now I'm here, different group of guys, now it's our time to build our own legacy and build our own rivalry."

Morris is expected to play primarily at the 4 with Boston thin on experienced bigs. Aron Baynes, another offseason addition from Detroit, started at center in Monday's win over the Hornets.

Morris also expects to be an enforcer in Boston.

"I gotta be the tough guy on the team. I gotta be the protector," he said. "Guys knocking my guys down, I can't have that. You know what I'm saying? It's going to be my role to be the bully."

Markieff Morris is sidelined for six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia last month. Marcus Morris said his brother is doing well after the trial.

"[Markieff is] in high spirits," Morris said. "Like I said, he's got his baby girl so that's time he can spend with her and rehab and get better. He's going to have a great year; Washington is going to have a great year, so he's good. He's going to be OK."

Markieff revealed Thursday that rejoining his teammates in Washington has provided him with some welcome support.

"It was super important. This is my first time ever missing a training camp,'' the six-year veteran said. "We've got a special group.''

Inside the Wizards locker room on Thursday, head coach Scott Brooks saw nothing but warmth as teammates embraced their big man.

"You could tell our guys have a lot of respect for him,'' Brooks said. "Everybody was happy and excited, and it was very authentic.''

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.