Analysis: Celtics have a Marcus Morris conundrum

(Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

Marcus Morris seemed like an ideal addition to the Celtics' rotation last offseason. Danny Ainge traded Avery Bradley and a second-round pick for the veteran forward in a move that reduced payroll while also filling a need. Morris fit the mold of a versatile forward who could guard multiple positions and provide some scoring punch for Boston’s frontcourt. He was also affordable ($5 million for each season through 2018-19).

The Celtics didn’t see much of Morris during the first half of the year as he battled a recurring knee issue that sidelined him for 20 games before Christmas. He was limited by minutes restrictions when he could play and didn’t seem to have the kind of mobility that he showcased during his years in Detroit and Phoenix. That reality kept him in a reduced role early this year, and yet the Celtics remained adamant about the impact of his potential contributions.

“We’re going to be a better team with Marcus Morris, there’s no question about it,” Brad Stevens explained back in December. “We just have to make sure that he’s fully healthy and gets to a point where he can play increased minutes as we move forward.”

Nearly two months later, those increased minutes have become a reality. Morris missed a couple games due to a hip injury in early February but he told BostonSportsJournal.com recently that his knee feels the best it has all year. He’s playing big minutes and hasn’t had to miss a game in over a month. He also played 35 minutes on Wednesday night and is averaging a season-high 30.2 per game in February. The problem for the Celtics? As his role has expanded, the team’s success has fallen off.