BOSTON — In the offseason, Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris is due a new contract from someone, which will presumably pay him more than the $5 million owed him for this upcoming season.
In the meantime, he doesnt appreciate other people making money off B.W.A., which is his nickname for the bench unit and his intellectual property, and he would like a cut.
Marcus Smart explains the BWA nickname for bench unit
“Theyre selling t-shirts,” Morris said after the Celtics second day of training camp on Wednesday. “I need a couple dollars off that. Theyre taking my t-shirts and all that.”
Video: (FULL) MARCUS MORRIS says CELTICS have best bench in the East
B.W.A. — or “Bench With Attitude,” named after legendary hip-hop group N.W.A. — will be a potent collection of players. Its not really a lineup, since plenty of players would qualify, but the leaders will be Morris, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart, with help from Daniel Theis, Aron Baynes, Semi Ojeleye and others. Brad Wanamaker and Robert Williams will likely fit in as well.
“I just want to have fun with all that,” Morris said. “We definitely have a lot of guys who could start in this league. For opposing teams, if your bench not ready, it could get real ugly. When we get out there, were going to try to separate every time. Thats going to be our main focus.”
Morris, Smart and Rozier would indeed all be starters for many teams around the league. Morris is a two-way threat who can isolate and get his own shot. Rozier averaged 16.5 points per game in the postseason as the Celtics starting point guard, and Smart is one of the best defensive guards in the NBA.
“Were all veterans,” Morris said. “We are in a unique situation to be able to have as many guys as we have and for us to still do what we are supposed to do. I think that can change a lot of games once our second unit comes in because I dont care who they got on their team — theres no second unit thats better than ours from top to bottom.”
“I love the competitiveness these guys bring,” Smart added. “We have a lot of guys who are very talented. And thats how were going to be. Just have to be able to work.”
Morris isnt particularly concerned about coming off the bench. He has started for teams doomed to either miss the playoffs or exit early. Last seasons deep playoff run gave him some perspective. For the bench, reaching an understanding about role will be important, even if a player could get more minutes elsewhere.
“Our team is special,” Morris said. “Theres going to be some games where I start. Theres going to be some games where I come off. Most games where I come off. Im just blessed to be in a special situation where we can actually get somewhere. Were about right there to be in the championship, and I think were the best team in the East. At this time in my career, Im in a great situation, Im blessed to be here. Bostons been nothing but good to me. Im excited.”
As the Celtics assembled this team, the front office needed to consider maturity. Veterans and youth, stars and role players, everyone will need to sacrifice minutes and touches for this team to be successful.
“I think the character of the player matters and the maturity of the player matters when we draft him, of course,” Ainge said. “But Ive been in the NBA for 40 years and I think that young players, they want to get paid, they want to be All-Stars, they want recognition, they want respect of their peers. Everybody does. Thats just the nature of the game. Everybody wants respect in whatever job theyre doing. So everyday wants to win, but sometimes people want to win on their terms. So I sense that its our job and the players jobs to understand that sacrifices have to be made by everybody on the team. Some more than others. I think that theyll get that.”
A nickname might help. A rallying cry — like, “Lets be the best bench in the NBA” — might help as well, especially against the likes of Golden State.
“I think its going to come down to the bench,” Morris said. “Our bench, Im going to keep saying it, were the best in the league. Until someone change that, I think thats gonna really push it over the top. Our starting five is amazing, but when you bring the bench in and the way we all gel, its going to be special for us.”
The Celtics’ bench will be called “BWA,” standing for bench with attitude. It will consist of Smart, Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes, Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye, and rookie Robert Williams.
Smart says the nickname is perfect because it describes the bench and the overall team in a nutshell.
Marcus Smart on BWA nickname: "We have the toughest team, the toughest bench, the toughest coach. I definitely have a lot of attitude, I know Morris has some attitude, I know other guys have some attitude. I'm rocking with the name."
Rozier, who started in the 2018 playoffs with Kyrie Irving sidelined, is arguably the best backup point guard in the league. Marcus Smart is a lockdown defender, Morris is a guy who can score in bunches, Baynes has championship pedigree and apparently sets the hardest screens in the league, and Theis, Ojeleye and Williams are all above average defenders.
The Celtics’ starting lineup will most likely feature Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford. With both Irving and Hayward expected to be healthy, the Celtics are primed to contend for a championship. Without Irving and Hayward during the 2018 postseason, Boston took LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, so one would surmise the Celtics will be even more dangerous with its two stars back.
Boston has one of the deepest and talented rosters in the NBA. Irving says it’s a good problem to have.
Kyrie Irving on the Celtics having so much depth: "Id rather be too deep of a team than not have enough (talent). Ive been on a few teams where we didnt have enough talent and that was scary."