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Celtics' Marcus Morris still in recovery from knee soreness

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris, a projected starter after being acquired this summer, will be sidelined for the start of the regular season while battling right knee soreness.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Sunday that Morris will "be out here for the coming week-plus" and the team will re-evaluate him later this month to see when he might be ready for game action. Morris missed the first eight days of Celtics camp while on trial for aggravated assault in Phoenix. After being acquitted, Morris rejoined the team but played only 11 minutes in Boston's exhibition finale in Charlotte.

"With him getting here a little bit late, we feel like he needs a little more of a preseason," Stevens said. "He will most likely be out here for the coming week-plus, and then we will re-evaluate after that. They've done all the testing, and structurally, the knee is in good shape. But I think it is a quick turnaround to get here last week and play in a regular-season game. It's going to be a little bit of time probably before he hits the court again."

The Celtics acquired Morris from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Avery Bradley and a second-round pick. Boston made the move in order to trim salary to sign free-agent Gordon Hayward to a maximum-salary contract but also liked how Morris could bolster a frontcourt thin on experience.

"I think we're going to be a better basketball team with Marcus available, but he's not," Stevens said. "We're going to need other people to step up."

Stevens wouldn't fully divulge his opening-night lineup but said it's likely to be similar to what the team utilized in the preseason. That would mean 19-year-old rookie Jayson Tatum, the No. 3 pick in June's draft, is in position to open the season as a starter. Boston closed the preseason with a starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Hayward, Tatum and Al Horford.

On Saturday, Tatum was asked if he had thought about the possibility of having to defend LeBron James in his first NBA game. After nodding yes, he was asked how it went.

"It went good in my head," he deadpanned. "In my head."

Stevens said that Aron Baynes, another offseason addition, went through practice Sunday and remains on pace to play in Tuesday's opener despite spraining his left knee in a preseason game last week.

Much of the hype leading up to Tuesday's opener against the Cavaliers has centered around Irving's return to play his former team. Irving has downplayed it all and said his focus is simply playing well in his Boston debut.

"The excitement and the energy is there, but I think everything extra has been created by outside influence," Irving said. "So that's neither here nor there. I don't know what that reality is. I don't necessarily concern myself with that because, if I do, I'd really be doing myself a disservice and my teammates a disservice of trying to figure out whether or not I want to give some distractions or specific people energy in terms of what they're saying or what they think about what's going on.

"Everyone's entitled to an opinion. I respect it. But it's my job to go out there and be the best I can be for my teammates and ultimately try to win every single game and put myself and my teammates in a great position to win. It's going to happen regardless. That's just the nature of the business. I understand that. But that reality, I leave that for other people."

Author: Chris Forsberg, ESPN
Source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/21034827/celtics-coach-brad-stevens-says-marcus-morris-miss-start-regular-season

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