Assault trial expected to keep Celtics' Marcus Morris from start of camp

CANTON, Mass. - Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris is expected to miss the start of training camp Tuesday while still on trial for an aggravated assault charge in Arizona.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said at Monday's media day that the organization has been in touch with Morris, including sending assistant general manager/team counsel Mike Zarren to Phoenix for the start of the trial last week, and are hopeful that Morris will be able to rejoin the Celtics when the trial concludes.

Morris; his twin brother, Markieff; and three others were indicted on felony aggravated assault after being accused of beating Erik Hood outside a Phoenix recreation center on Jan. 24, 2015.

Two of the other co-defendants pleaded guilty Sept. 13 to the same charges. The Morris brothers and the final defendant, Gerald Bowman, have pleaded not guilty.

The Celtics acquired Marcus Morris in July as part of a deal that sent Avery Bradley to the Detroit Pistons. Boston needed to trim salary to sign Gordon Hayward, but Morris was also expected to compete for a starting role in Boston's frontcourt.

"So I think [Marcus Morris'] teammates and [head coach] Brad [Stevens] and myself have all been in contact, and Mike Zarren was out there during the trial last week, so we've been in touch with Marcus continuously throughout the process," Ainge said.

Ainge was asked whether the team had any backup plan in case Morris was not ready for the start of the regular season. The Morris brothers face the possibility of prison time and discipline from the NBA, including a minimum 10-game suspension if they are found guilty.

"So no Plan B's," Ainge said. "We'll just wait like everyone else to see what happens there, but we feel good about what will happen. At the same time, we understand what possibilities exist, but we've been keeping close tabs on the trial."

Markieff Morris is sidelined for the start of the 2017-18 season after undergoing surgery on a sports hernia.

Marcus Morris averaged 14 points and 4.6 rebounds while starting 79 games for the Pistons last season. He could eventually fill a vacancy in Boston's starting frontcourt with Al Horford the only starter returning from last year's 53-win team.

The Celtics also signed Aron Baynes and German import Daniel Theis for frontcourt depth this summer. Rookies Guerschon Yabusele and Semi Ojeleye could compete for time up front, and Boston has considerable depth on the wing if the Celtics desire to go small.