BOSTON (CBS) — After a disappointing and frustrating season, Marcus Morris knew that change was needed on the Boston Celtics. He knew that likely meant he wouldn’t be wearing Celtics green when he hit free agency last summer.
But he still would have liked a phone call from Danny Ainge.
Morris spent two solid years in Boston, giving the team some toughness, grit and attitude, along with some timely (but streaky) shooting. He had the best season of his career during last year’s dismal run, providing one of the few bright spots as the Celtics slumped to start the season.
It was obvious change was coming when the Celtics lost to the Bucks in the second round of the playoffs, and Morris figured he would be part of that change. He’s now a member of the New York Knicks, and will make his return to Boston on Friday night.
He doesn’t hold any ill will against his former team, but as he told The Athletic’s Jay King, Ainge never called him during the free agency period. Not even to let him know the C’s would be moving on. That rubbed the veteran the wrong way.
“I wouldn’t use the word upset. Just kind of disappointed,” Morris told King. “I tried hard to be a leader for this team. During our tough times I felt like I always was a bright spot for this team. In the two years I was here I was nothing but professional, I did everything right. As a player, you want to get rewarded for those things. I’ve been fighting hard ever since I’ve been in this league, every single year. And I just felt as though just a phone call would have done me justice. So it is what it is.”
Morris would have liked to have returned, but instead he joined Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Aron Bayes and Terry Rozier as players were either sent out of town or left on their own. Morris initially signed a two-year, $20 million deal with the Spurs in late June, but backed out of that pact to sign a one-year, $15 million contract with the Knicks. With limited cap space after giving Kemba Walker a max deal, the most the Celtics could have offered Morris was the two-year, $10 million contract they gave to Enes Kanter.
He’s still close with a lot of his former teammates, and didn’t want to talk too much about what went wrong last season. But it was pretty clear for anyone who watched the C’s struggled to become a cohesive group.
“I don’t really want to speak on that. I mean, we all know,” he said. “(Kyrie) is my guy, but they needed a fresh start. Everybody needed a fresh start. And they got it, man. The energy seems — being around them, just playing them that one game (Saturday), the energy seems to be a lot better.”
Morris said there were a lot of mouths to feed on the Celtics last season, with a number of players looking to get paid in the near future. That made the situation a difficult one.
“That’s a tough situation. But at the end of the day, once everybody’s taken care of — if you look at any championship team, look at Golden State, their entire team was taken care of, their guys were taken care of, so it became, ‘Let’s just win.’ We had a situation where guys were trying to get paid, so it involved a little bit of selfishness. And that’s what happened.”
Morris refuses to watch Celtics games now that he’s a member of the Knicks, but after seeing them in action last weekend, he’s happy that his former team is trending in the right direction with their fresh start. The Celtics look to win their fourth straight game on Friday night.