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.

Andre Iguodala out for Warriors again in Game 5; Klay Thompson available

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The Warriors missed Andre Iguodala in Game 4 against Houston. They don’t have a Death/Hamptons 5 lineup without him. Without his depth, the Warriors had to lean more on players such as Kevon Looney (who started), Nick Young, and others who are can be a liability at the high level of play in this series. Not having Iguodala to keep minutes down, play fierce defense, move the ball on offense, and be a stabilizing force was one of the issues that led to the Warriors fourth-quarter issues in Game 4.

Now they are without him for Game 5, too.

Having Klay Thompson on the court is huge for Golden State, although it will be worth monitoring to see how he moves.

The Warriors have gotten sucked into the switching/isolation game the Rockets want to play, if they are going to take Game 5 on the road they need to get back to “the beautiful game” they want to play. That would have been easier with Iguodala.

Two years after NBA retirement, Amar’e Stoudemire talking comeback

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NBA teams seemed to have moved on from Amar’e Stoudemire. After an impressive NBA career — five-time All-NBA, Rookie of the Year, six-time All-Star — he wasn’t physically the explosive player that dazzled with the Suns. Teams were interested in getting younger and more athletic, and Stoudemire was doing neither. He retired from the NBA and played for a season in Israel where he won a league title. This summer he’s signed up to play with the Big3.

After that he’,d like another crack at the NBA. When asked about an NBA comeback, here’s what Stoudemire told CBS Sports’ Bill Reiter on ‘Reiter’s Block’:

“I am. I am. I’m definitely planning on (coming back). I’ve been training like you wouldn’t believe, my body feels great. I had an amazing year last year playing overseas and so I’m gonna definitely continue to work my way back to top shape and see if there’s a team that needs my talents.”

I’m not sure there’s going to be much demand. Maybe a team does an old friend a favor and brings him in for some workouts. However, his knees and body struggled with the physical grind of the NBA the final few seasons of his career, and it’s unlikely with age that got better. No doubt he’s worked on his conditioning and strength, but Father Time always wins the race and it already felt like this chase was over.

That said, good on Stoudemire for not giving up on the dream. His agent should be making calls, maybe he can become the second player to make the Big3 to NBA leap.

 

 

Kristaps Porzingis after conversation with David Fizdale: ‘Man im excited!’

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David Fizdale learned a lot of lessons in his first go around as a head coach, spending 101 games with the Memphis Grizzlies. At the top of the list: Build a strong bond with your star player. Or else.

Fizdale is trying to do that, saying he would fly to Latvia this summer to spend time with Kristaps Porzingis. But first came a phone call, and that seemed to go very well.

It’s not just Porzingis. Fizdale was bonding with Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Damyean Dotson on Wednesday night in Boston. A little “this is where we want to be” motivation.

Good on Fizdale for all of this.

The Knicks got the best coach for them on the board in Fizdale, and so far the new front office — general manager Scott Perry and president Steve Mills — are making smart decisions. Knicks fans should be optimistic. Knicks ownership just needs to be patient (not James Dolan’s strong suit), because with no Porzingis for a large portion if not all of next season the team will struggle. Wins will be hard to come by. Fizdale needs a season to develop players and lay the foundation for what he wants to build, while the new front office needs time to clean up the salary cap mess that is New York right now.

With some patience, the Knicks could have something special in a few years. And Fizdale may have found the right home for his talents because he’s already got players buying in.

Report: Police officers involved in Sterling Brown’s arrest suspended 15, 10 and two days

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Bucks guard Sterling Brown was tased and arrested in January despite not being violent or overly combative while being questioned about a parking violation.

Gina Barton, Mary Spicuzza and Ashley Luthern of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The Milwaukee police officer who first confronted Milwaukee Bucks rookie Sterling Brown outside a Walgreens in January was suspended for two days, the Journal Sentinel has learned.

Two supervisors who later arrived, escalating the situation, were suspended for 10 and 15 days, sources said. Several other officers were reprimanded.

I don’t know whether these suspensions are the appropriate punishment.

But police too often trampling on the rights of people, especially minorities, is a far greater problem than these three officers and this incident.