Associated Press

NBA Morris twins miss start of training camp while standing trial

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PHOENIX (AP) — NBA training camps began this week for the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards, but two starters from the teams were noticeably absent. Twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris were in a Phoenix courtroom standing trial on felony assault charges stemming from a 2015 beating.

The NBA players have been on trial for the past two weeks on charges that they joined three other people in the beating of a former acquaintance outside a high school basketball game in 2015 when they played for the Phoenix Suns.

Marcus Morris is accused of kicking the victim in the head while prosecutors say Markieff was an accomplice in the attack.

Closing arguments got underway Thursday as prosecutors urged jurors to convict the NBA players of aggravated assault charges for their role in the beating. Prosecutor Daniel Fisher said the brothers “had an axe to grind” with the victim and said they were intent on sending him a message.

But an attorney defending Marcus Morris against the charges argued multiple witnesses’ testimony showed the twin brothers could not have been involved in the incident.

Jurors will return to the courtroom Monday to hear remaining closings arguments from attorneys representing Markieff Morris and the final defendant, Gerald Bowman.

The victim, Erik Hood, testified last week he knew the brothers since their AAU days when he was helping to connect agents with basketball players in hopes of getting a cut of a lucrative NBA contract.

Hood said their relationship soured in 2011 because of a misinterpreted text message he sent their mother. He said there was nothing “improper” happening with him and their mother.

Defense lawyer Timothy Eckstein reminded jurors that Hood told authorities nine times that both twins were involved in the assault before changing his statement to say Markieff did not beat him but had been in the vicinity.

The defense attorney said Hood repeatedly lied during the investigation, and that Hood knew he had to “double down on Marcus” beating him because the case wouldn’t be worth anything without one of the brothers involved.

Marcus was traded to the Boston Celtics in July as part of a roster overhaul that added Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward in an attempt to make them more competitive with the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Division. Markieff plays for the Washington Wizards.

If they are found guilty, the Morris brothers face the possibility of probation or prison time and discipline from the NBA, including a minimum 10-game suspension. Markieff Morris will also be sidelined for several weeks after having a sports hernia surgery.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the team and officials have been in contact with Marcus throughout the trial. The team dispatched an assistant general manager to Phoenix to attend the proceedings.

“We’re just waiting like everybody else to see what happens there,” Ainge said. “But we feel good about what will happen. At the same time we understand what possibilities exist.”

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

Prosecutor Daniel Fisher described Markieff as an accomplice in the assault, noting he moved his car between the time of the start of the high school game and the end closer to where the assault later happened. Fisher said he acted as a lookout and fled in what he described as the getaway car.

The Morris brothers were drafted back-to-back in the first round of the 2011 NBA draft.

Andrew Wiggins answers Carmelo with game-winning 3-pointer (VIDEO)

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Sunday’s matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves was perhaps a preview of a Western Conference playoff series. We should certainly hope so given the late-game heroics we saw this weekend courtesy of Karl-Anthony Towns, Carmelo Anthony, and Andrew Wiggins.

The two teams played a razor thin matchup in the fourth quarter, with Towns hitting a floating shot with just nine seconds left to take the lead. OKC took the torch just seconds later when Carmelo hit a 3-pointer with less than five seconds to play from the left wing.

That left the Timberwolves down by one point with no timeouts to spare.

After Minnesota inbounded to the ball, Wiggins drove down the left sideline and toward the middle of the floor. With the clock running out, Wiggins pulled up from nearly 30 feet out and drained 3-pointer off the backboard as time expired.

Here’s what the two threes looked like back to back.

Via Twitter:

Today was absolutely mental in the NBA. Between the drama that’s happening with the Phoenix Suns and this Western Conference shootout, the regular season just keeps amping it up each and every day.

Clippers say Milos Teodosic out indefinitely with plantar fascia injury

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The LA Clippers needed everything to go right for them injury-wise to be able to survive losing Chris Paul the same year many teams in the Western Conference got much stronger. Sunday’s news that rookie Milos Teodosic is out indefinitely with a left plantar fascia injury won’t help the confidence of fans in southern California.

Teodosic suffered the injury during a game against the Phoenix Suns earlier in the week. Teodosic could be seen pulling up lame toward the near corner on a seemingly innocuous play, which you can watch above.

Here is the release from the team on Teodosic’s injury..

Via Twitter:

Teodosic was expected to be a boost for the Clippers’ offense, who lost Paul over the offseason to the Houston Rockets. Teodosic is a 30-year-old rookie whose passing acumen was sure to be a highlight reel staple over the course of the season.

Plantar fascia injuries can be tough for players to come back from, although the severity of the injury can vary greatly. In the past, players like Damian Lillard and Al Jefferson have made relatively speedy recoveries or have been able to play through the injury itself.

However, a plantar fascia issue can be a tough one and is often difficult to get to recover given the inherent stress level of the area and because soft tissue injuries can be pesky. Obviously, a word like “indefinitely” is pretty dang scary.

Meanwhile, the Suns had a few issues of their own on Sunday. They fired head coach Earl Watson and point guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted out that he no longer wanted to be “here”. The former Clippers point guard has already had lobbyists from LA come calling. Big man DeAndre Jordan already tweeted that he wanted Bledsoe to “come back home”.

Someone has to trade for Bledsoe. Might as well be the Clippers.

Report: Suns fire Earl Watson within an hour of Eric Bledsoe’s tweet

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Things are just getting weirder in Arizona.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Phoenix Suns have fired head coach Earl Watson. This comes in less than an hour after Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted out that he no longer wanted to be “here”. The assumption is that the “here” meant with the Suns organization, although Bledsoe nor the team have clarified.

Phoenix was always slated to be a bad team but they have been an absolute mess to start the season. Just three games in and they have yet to win a contest. They have lost by a combined 92 points in those games during some hilariously bad efforts. While Watson’s firing is sudden, it’s not entirely surprising.

Via ESPN:

Meanwhile, it’s not clear what the Suns will do from here both with Bledsoe and in filling the head coach spot on the bench.

Teams like the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers have struggled when players have requested a trade publicly. Much of their leverage is lost and it could be harder to find a usable return for Bledsoe. A friend of LeBron James, Bledsoe has been rumored in trades from Phoenix to places like Cleveland for years. Now, it will be curious to see if the Suns will need to move him and what they can get for Bledsoe once a deal is done. Any assets will be a vital to their rebuilding process.

In terms of coaching, Phoenix has both Ty Corbin and Jay Triano on the bench, both of which who have been head coaches in the NBA before. It appears Triano will be stepping into the interim role, but that still leaves the question of what Phoenix should do from here on out. A directionless team in the middle of a rebuild with less-than-stellar ownership is a recipe for continued failure.

Phoenix has been a poorly-run organization for some time, particularly when it comes to expenses. Phoenix owner Robert Sarver is notoriously cheap, even going so far as selling draft picks outright. Phoenix exchanged players like Marcin Gortat, Rudy Fernandez, and Rajon Rondo for pennies on the dollar.

They are already the worst team in the NBA, one of their star players wants out, and now they no longer have a head coach. If you are a basketball fan in Phoenix, things have to be tough for you right now.

Suns PG Eric Bledsoe tweets “I don’t want to be here”

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The Phoenix Suns were always going to be a bad team, but I think we were all surprised when they started off the season with a historical loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Now, it seems things are getting worse.

On Sunday, Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe sent out a message on Twitter that seemed to insinuate that he no longer wanted to be a part of the organization in Phoenix.

That tweet set the NBA sphere on fire during a relatively sleepy afternoon. Ramifications of players being open with their requests to move teams has not always played out well for the organizations. Think about the decreased leverage for the Knicks and Pacers when it came to Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

Via Twitter:

It would be a major bummer for fans in Arizona if Bledsoe does indeed want out of Phoenix. The team has played all of three games, and after years of trade speculation around Bledsoe so it would be a huge blow to give him up to suitors for pennies on the dollar.

As of publication on Sunday afternoon we have yet to confirm that this is the intent of Bledsoe’s tweet, but no doubt we will hear more about it as the day goes on.