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The Morris Twins, Marcus and Markieff, go on trial today (Monday, September 18, 2017) in Phoenix, charged with felony assault and battery . The alleged incident happened in January of 2015 in Phoenix, and involved the punching and kicking of a man by five assailants, including Marcus and Markieff. My work history includes close to 20 years as Police Criminal Prosecutor, so I may delve into this in a bit of detail. If the court-related content doesn't intrigue you, just focus only on the possible outcomes and potential suspensions.

As Celtics fans, we have at least two concerns relative to the trial and its outcome. The first question concerns Morris' character and is it of the high-quality usually sought by President Danny Ainge and the Celtics? The second concern is all about losing Marcus' services due to jail time and/or suspension by the NBA. First things first. A look at the character issue.

In a prior and separate incident, Marcus was charged with simple assault and battery in a bar room altercation in Kansas in 2012. The charge was only a misdemeanor, and bar fights involving NBA players do happen. Larry Bird is an absolute Celts icon, and I will never forget this incident, even though it was, and still is, shrouded in a thick cloud of mystery (per Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy):

On the night of May 16, 1985, in the middle of the Eastern Conference finals between the Celtics and Sixers, Bird was involved in a scuffle that started at a now-defunct bar called Chelsea’s and spilled out to the corner of State Street and Merchant’s Row.

The Morris incident that initiated the current trial is different. Marcus is charged with a felony that may involve jail time if he is convicted. I doubt we will see jail time, however. But the charges involve allegations of a planned attack that involved kicking to the head with shod feet. The prosecution will state that this was not a spur-of-the-moment occurrence, and that the planned attack was a continuing, moving incident involving five attackers injuring one man. Not good for Marcus or Celts fans.

We should not forget that the Phoenix Suns traded both Marcus and Markieff after the incident. The Celtics traded for Marcus knowing of the felony allegations and criminal charges against him. I can foresee a scenario where Marcus Morris hopefully has a productive early season in his role with the Celts and gets traded prior to the deadline. Here is Wikipedia's take on the incident and trades:
The incident was not only considered a catalyst for the Suns trading Marcus to the Pistons on July 9, 2015; but it was also one of the reasons why the Suns eventually traded his twin brother to the Washington Wizards over eight months later on February 18, 2016.

Here's the catch. The attack supposedly took place because the victim texted an inappropriate message to the Morris brothers' mother. A full trial would almost certainly mean that she would have to testify for either the prosecution or defense. That could mean a last-minute plea by the brothers, thus avoiding the need for the mother to testify. That could take place as soon as today. There is one other matter concerning Marcus and Markieff's mother (via New York Post):

The Morris twins have denied any wrongdoing and say they do not know the alleged victim. Their mother has also denied knowing Hood. But police say they have found evidence to the contrary.

There is another reason that the brothers may want to avoid having their mother testify. There is the possibility of an obstruction of justice charge against her. Another reason for a plea bargain.

Are we going to lose Marcus due to suspension? I feel it is likely. Even a plea agreement to a lesser charge (I doubt the judge would allow that) would probably result in suspension. A not guilty finding by the jury would not necessarily prevent a suspension. Adam Silver still has the right to suspend based on facts presented. My feelings are that we will see a suspension no matter what the results of the proceedings.

How long would it be? Darren Collison received an eight-game suspension last year for pleading guilty to misdemeanor domestic battery. A conviction for the current felony charge would call for a minimum 10-game suspension.

Court proceedings can turn on a dime, and they begin today. The twins are in front of an eight-person jury, and they all have to agree on a finding of guilty or not guilty. If they can not agree, a mistrial is declared, and a second trial may be in the future. A conviction could be appealed and lengthen the entire process.

The facts at least as presented by the prosecution, make me wonder a bit about Marcus' future with the Celts. I am quite sure Adam Silver has some strong thoughts relative to how those allegations might affect his decisions on a possible suspension.



As a player, Marcus Morris has definite value. He has size, durability and talent. He is listed at 6'9", 235 lbs. and has played almost 80 games per season in his five full seasons in the NBA. He averaged 32.5 minutes, 14.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists last season with Detroit. Watch the above video. This guy can play.

Stay tuned. I will do updates. Should Danny have traded for Morris? Did he act in haste to allow for the signing of Gordon Hayward? Is Marcus a high-character individual or a problem? Will Danny and Brad Stevens be able to correct any existing character flaws? Is Marcus an integral part of the Celts future or a trade chip? What do our readers think?

Photo via Jennifer Stewart/USA Today
Marcus Morris stats via Wikipedia

Tom Lane 9/18/2017 11:49:00 AM Edit
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