Boston Celtics

Markieff Morris: Celtics-Wizards rivalry a 'bit softer' with his twin brother on C's

washington-wizards-markieff-morris-marcus-morris-81317.jpg

Markieff Morris: Celtics-Wizards rivalry a 'bit softer' with his twin brother on C's

Markieff Morris and his Washington Wizards teammates have spent the offseason lamenting what might have been after their seven-game playoff loss to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The contentious series stoked a budding rivalry between the teams that has a new element this season. Morris' twin brother, Marcus, was traded to the Celtics from the Detroit Pistons last month for guard Avery Bradley.

Will the family element change things?

“I think it will be a liiiittle bit softer than it was, just a little bit,” Morris joked to Ben Standig of FanRagSports.com. “I think we’ll still have that rivalry because we don’t like those guys and they don’t like us. I don’t that should change with my brother on the team."

Animosity toward the Celtics aside, Markieff called the C's "a great organization" and said he was with Marcus when the trade happened July 7. They'll get to spend Christmas together, too. The NBA released its holiday schedule last week that includes a Wizards' visit to TD Garden in the Celtics' first-ever Christmas home game. 

“Usually he’d just come right in and tell me. I knew when [Marcus] asked to come outside the room I was like, ‘Yeah, there was something wrong,” Morris cracked. “I think that was the best move for him, honestly. You get to play for a great organization like Boston. That’s once in a lifetime. I’m happy for him. Really can’t wait until that Christmas game.”

An immediate concern for the brothers is a criminal trial set to begin Aug. 21 in Arizona for an assault charge. It stems from a Jan. 24, 2015 incident when the Morris twins were playing for the Phoenix Suns. Erik Hood, 36, of Phoenix, alleges that the twins were part of a group that attacked him outside a Phoenix recreation area. 

Gordon Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

boston-celtics-isaiah-thomas-wizards-2-51317.jpg

Gordon Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

Gordon Hayward wanted to go to Boston to play with Isaiah Thomas.

Of course, that's not going to happen. The Celtics traded Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a package for Kyrie Irving. Hayward explained what it was like for him to learn he and Thomas would not get the chance to hit the court together in Celtics' green.

"My first reaction was to text I.T., and wish him the best," Hayward wrote in a blog post which he published Thursday. "That was a really strange moment because I’d really been looking forward to playing with him. He didn’t just help recruit me to Boston—he was a big piece of that recruitment. He had talked a lot about city and how it was different to be a Celtic. He talked about the intensity of playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, playing at the Garden in the playoffs, and how much fun it was, and how much fun he had playing in Boston.

"All of that ultimately helped win me over. And by the time of the trade, I had already started to build a little bit of a relationship with him.

"But that is just how the business works. I have spent enough years in the NBA to realize that things can change like that, in an instant. Still, even though we didn’t necessarily get to be teammates, I’m definitely going to be watching him as a fan. In this league, I think we are all rooting for each other in some way or another—just to try to stay healthy, to try to be the best we can be."

Hayward may be genuine about rooting for Thomas -- except perhaps when he faces off against the Cavaliers in the season-opener on Oct. 17 at Quicken Loans Arena. Thomas is uncertain to play due to a hip injury. But the two teams are expected to see each other in the Eastern Conference Finals again after the 2017-18 season. This preview will be an opportunity for Thomas and Irving to get their first shot at revenge against their previous team.

The trade wasn't all bad for Hayward, he explained. He was pleased at the prospect of playing with Irving. Hayward cited Irving's abilities in 1-on-1 situations and clutch moments. He appreciated Irving's scoring ability, because Hayward knows the point guard will open up space for Hayward to knock down open shots. Above all, Hayward seemed to value Irving's unique experience.

"And then getting a chance to play with LeBron James, and going to the Finals three straight years—those are experiences that are invaluable and that you really can’t teach," Hayward wrote. "Having that experience of playing in those big moments, dealing with the circus of the media, dealing with expectations, those are all things that I think he can help us with. Because most of us, myself especially, have never been through that."