BOSTON – The Boston Celtics made their first major move of the summer Friday as they traded Avery Bradley and a 2019 second-round draft pick to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Marcus Morris.
The departure of Bradley, a two-way stud and fan-favorite in Boston, may be a tough pill to swallow at first, but the Celtics are getting back an experienced, gritty leader who should fit well into the Celtics’ small-ball system, while also filling a frontcourt void.
Morris is a six-year veteran who has put up career averages of 10.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 35.5 percent from beyond the arc. During his first four seasons, he served as a role player for Houston and Phoenix, but his playing time and production began to spike two years ago when he signed with the Pistons.
The 27-year-old was a full-time starter over the last two seasons in Detroit, where he averaged 14.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, all while playing 32.5 minutes per contest. His contributions, however, went well beyond his statistical production.
Morris could be described as the motor of the Motor City basketball squad. He’s as tough as nails, he’s physical and he can defend any position. He’s also incredibly durable, having missed just six total games over the last four seasons.
Moreover, Morris’ style of play should allow him to thrive in Boston, while mutually benefiting his teammates. He’s a strong 3-point shooter and has a deadly mid-range game. This means he should fit seamlessly into the Celtics’ pace-and-space offense.
Morris, much like Jae Crowder, is able to play the 3 and the 4 interchangeably. Boston’s starting frontcourt could potentially consist of Crowder at the 3, Morris at the 4 and Al Horford at the 5. Those players combined to average 5.0 3-point makes per game last season, which is a strong number for a frontcourt threesome. Morris’ presence in the starting rotation would allow Boston to have five 3-point threats on the court at once, which could create a small-ball nightmare for opposing defenses.
Speaking of defense, that’s also a asset that Morris possesses. He is a strong, fearless player who can bang bodies with bigs in the post, and he can also switch out to the perimeter and defend guards. Crowder and Horford are also versatile defenders, meaning the trio should be able to continuously switch like a well-oiled machine.
While the addition of Morris should strengthen Boston’s frontcourt, the subtraction of Bradley will bring a void that its backcourt will need to overcome. Bradley’s defense was critical to the Celtics’ success over the last seven seasons, and his presence will surely be missed. Fortunately, Boston has a pair of young, tenacious defenders in Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier who should be of aid on that end, while Morris provides a much-needed strong, versatile boost up front.