Long shot Martin does his best to impress Celtics in Summer League

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Long shot Martin does his best to impress Celtics in Summer League

BOSTON – Hassan Martin knew from the outset he was on the outside looking in.

There's little room on the Celtics’ 15-man roster for undrafted free agents such as himself. And the Celtics Summer League team consisted of a handful of players (Jabari Bird, Semi Ojeleye, and Guerschon Yabusele) who were with the team last season and would surely be highlighted.

And while Martin, 22, hasn’t been around the Celtics culture for very long, he has quickly picked up the “always stay ready” mantra that we’ve seen under coach Brad Stevens (and Summer League head coach Jay Larranaga), which rewards players who make the most of their playing time.

Martin falls into that category and is one of the main reasons why the Celtics are on to the second round of the playoff portion of Summer League play in Las Vegas after knocking off the New York Knicks, 82-75 on Thursday in Las Vegas.

Boston will face the Miami Heat on Saturday in the quarterfinals.

The 6-foot-7 Martin came off the bench against the Knicks and scored eight points on 3-for-7 shooting from the field in 18 minutes.

It was another strong outing for Martin, who is second on the team in rebounding (5.3) while shooting a team-best 60 percent from the field despite playing limited minutes (he is seventh on the team in minutes played).

“I don’t have a huge role on this team,” Marin told NBC Sports Boston earlier this week. “I just wanted to come in and show my athleticism, my motor, the way I attack the rim, rebound, and the way I defend. All the little details, hopefully, will get me a spot on the team. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Martin knows all too well that while his focus is on doing whatever he can to help Boston, there are other teams watching as well.

"Of course I want to stay with Boston," Martin said. "Going to school basically right up the street, it would be great. But I understand this is a business. Like everybody else here, I just want my shot, my opportunity to play in the NBA; that's all."

The former University of Rhode Island star led the Rams to an NCAA Tournament bid in 2017 – snapping an 18-year drought - and was named Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year in his junior and senior seasons.

After going undrafted in 2017, he took his talents to Japan where he became a major contributor to the Ryukyu Golden Kings, where he averaged 15.3 points and 8.2 rebounds while shooting 62.3 percent from the field.

The adjustment to life overseas was a little rocky at first, but it didn’t take too long for Martin to settle into a groove by doing what the Celtics are seeing in summer league – impacting the game.

And by doing that, Martin is doing exactly what an undrafted free agent in the summer is supposed to do – give the Celtics front office and others throughout the league, something to think about.

Martin said there have not been any talks specifically about what his role might be with the Celtics beyond this season.

“I approach that the same way I approach the game now; stay ready,” Martin said. “Because you never know when your opportunity is coming. All I can do is stay ready, just like I’ve done so far in summer league; just staying ready.”

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Eight years later, Wanamaker gets NBA call from Celtics

Eight years later, Wanamaker gets NBA call from Celtics

BRIGHTON, Mass. – The draft night call Brad Wanamaker had been longing for finally came eight years later.

Wanamaker, who turns 29 later this month, did not know for sure his dream of being in the NBA would come true until he got a call from the Celtics on draft night last month.

“Austin [Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel] called me and said, ‘we got a spot for you,’” Wanamaker recalled.

And that is when the dream to play in the NBA seemed real for the first time in his life.

“Brad has had an amazing journey through the G-League and France, Italy, Germany where he was teammates with [current Celtic] Daniel Theis,” said Mike Zarren, Boston’s assistant general manager and team counsel. “He’s tough. He can guard multiple positions. He can shoot, he can handle...We’re real happy to have him.”

He’s happy to be here, even if it meant leaving some money on the table after signing a one-year deal with Boston worth $831,311.

A Philadelphia native who played AAU ball with current Celtic Marcus Morris, Wanamaker averaged 11.5 points, 3.5 assists and 2.2 rebounds for Fenerbahce Ulker in Euroleague play this past season.

But he was at his best in the postseason, leading Fenerbahce to a third consecutive title by averaging 16.2 points and 4.2 assists, which earned him Turkish League Finals Most Valuable Player.

Coming off such a strong postseason run, Wanamaker was in line for a lucrative payday had he decided to stay overseas.

But the Celtics provided him with a shot at playing in the NBA, something that he had talked about with other teams in the past but never came to fruition.

The 6-foot-4 guard recalls the series of individual workouts with teams through the years, and the promises made that he was at the top of their wish list only to see those teams go in a different direction.

The Celtics made similar overtures to him, but it wasn’t until the former Pitt star got that call on draft night last month – eight years after going undrafted following four years at Pitt – that Wanamaker realized that those years of playing overseas as well as in the G-League, finally landed him on an NBA roster.

“It’s a real feeling,” Wanamaker said. “Still taking it in as the days go on. I grinded my way to this point since I was a kid; it finally happened.”

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Brad Stevens, Jayson Tatum come up short at NBA Awards

Brad Stevens, Jayson Tatum come up short at NBA Awards

NBA Coach of the Year finalist Brad Stevens came up short on Monday night at the NBA Awards, losing out to the recently-fired Dwane Casey, while forward Jayson Tatum lost out to Philadelphia 76ers guard/forward Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, in a televised ceremony in Santa Monica, Calif.

Stevens led the Celtics to a second-straight Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 2017-18, taking the Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games, despite missing prized free agent signing Gordon Hayward for all but six minutes of the season to a gruesome leg injury, and missing newly-acquired star point guard Kyrie Irving for all of the playoffs recovering from knee surgery. It marked the first time the Celtics had put together back-to-back 50-win seasons since having four straight such seasons from 2007-11. 

Casey was relieved of his duties at Toronto Raptors head coach after getting swept by the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, despite a 59-win season that saw Toronto capture the No. 1 overall seed and a fourth Atlantic Division title in five seasons. He has since been hired as head coach of the Detroit Pistons.

Utah's Quin Snyder was the other finalist, after guiding the Jazz to a surprise run to the Western Conference semifinals.

It's not the first time Stevens has been left on the outside looking in. He wasn't named a Coach of the Year finalist last season despite guiding the Celtics to an unexpected Atlantic Division title, No. 1 seed and Eastern Conference Finals appearance.

Tatum, meanwhile, turned in a brilliant rookie campaign for Boston after being taken with the No. 3 pick out of Duke University, averaging 13.5 points during the regular season and 18.5 for the playoffs. Simmons was the No. 1 overall pick out of LSU in 2016, but missed the entire 2016-17 season with injury, leaving him eligible for Rookie of the Year this season.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell was the other finalist for Rookie of the Year.

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