With Celtics training camp set to begin in just a few days, the organization’s focus is partly on Phoenix, where recently acquired swingman Marcus Morris is on trial along with his twin brother Markieff for the 2015 assault of a former mentor.
Erik Hood, who was estranged from the twins at the time, has accused them and three others of beating him in January 2015, after he left a basketball tournament in Phoenix.
Two of the accused, Christopher Melendez and Julius Kane, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and will be sentenced next month.
The Morris twins and Gerald Bowman, a former Baltimore Ravens cornerback, are now on trial for participating in the assault.
The Celtics are quite interested in the proceedings, considering that Morris, in addition to any court-imposed penalties, could face a 10-game NBA suspension if convicted of a felony. The twins are facing two counts of aggravated assault, and even if they are convicted and given probation, they could still face suspension.
The jury trial is expected to last into next week. Attorneys for the Morrises, while acknowledging that the beating occurred, deny that the twins were involved. They are characterizing Hood’s accusations as a potential money grab.
Hood met the Morris twins while they were college recruits in Philadelphia and became part of their circle when they were playing together with the Phoenix Suns. The estrangement stems from Hood’s relationship with the Morrises’ mother, Thomasine, which the brothers reportedly deemed inappropriate.
The Morris twins are known to be extremely close, getting identical tattoos and even sharing the same bank account while playing in Phoenix. When Suns general manager Ryan McDonough was negotiating contract extensions, they told him to give them a total combined amount and they would split it between themselves.
Markieff, who was a more accomplished player at the time, took approximately $32 million of the pot while Marcus got $20 million. The twins eventually accused McDonough and the Suns of low-balling them after the club traded Marcus to the Detroit Pistons in July 2015. An unhappy Markieff was dealt to the Washington Wizards in February 2016.
The Celtics acquired Marcus from the Pistons in the Avery Bradley deal in July, while the court case was pending. If the trial spills into next week, Marcus Morris may miss part of training camp.
The Celtics have 10 new players under contract, including Morris, who is projected as a starter. At 6 feet 9 inches, 235 pounds, he is expected to be a versatile fit in Brad Stevens’s positionless system.
Celtics’ media day is Monday, and the team will head to Newport, R.I., the next day for three days of workouts. It’s highly unlikely Morris would be able to join the club unless there is a settlement in the trial.
The Celtics open their preseason slate Oct. 2 against the Charlotte Hornets and open the regular season Oct. 17 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
If Morris received a 10-game suspension, he would not be eligible to return until Nov. 6 against the Atlanta Hawks.