Can Tacko Fall find a way onto the Boston Celtics’ roster for the 2019-20 season? Not without some additional maneuvering by Boston to clear a spot.
The Celtics are still processing their offseason signings and haven’t yet inked their four draft picks. But once that is all processed, the team projects to have a full roster of 17 players, including a pair of two-way contracts.
Here’s the expected breakdown:
Returning players (9)
Marcus Smart, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis, Robert Williams, Guerschon Yabusele, Brad Wanamaker
Offseason signings (3)
Kemba Walker, Enes Kanter, Vincent Poirier
Unsigned draftees (3)
Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, Carsen Edwards
Two-way slots (2)
Max Strus, Tremont Waters
Once the free-agent signings are official, the Celtics can ink Langford and Williams to their rookie scale deals. There will be just enough cap space leftover to sign Edwards to a multi-year pact.
The lingering questions are: Can Tremont Waters make a case for a roster spot at summer league, or is he content to be a two-way player after being drafted with the 51st pick last month? If so, he would fill the team’s other two-way slot alongside Strus, who reportedly agreed to a two-way pact after going undrafted.
Fall, the 7-foot-7 big man who has taken over Vegas Summer League, is playing on an Exhibit 10 contract. He’ll collect a $50,000 bonus if he’s among Boston’s final cuts at training camp and is funneled to the team’s G-League squad in Maine as an affiliated player.
Alas, that won't prevent any team from swooping in and signing Fall, whether that’s now or further down the road. In order to protect that asset, the Celtics would need to sign Fall to a roster spot (even if it’s just one of the two-way slots).
That would require another move. With third-year big man Guerschon Yabusele struggling to assert himself in the infancy of summer league this year, most fans would prefer to see the team utilize that roster spot for Fall. Yabusele, however, holds some value as a tradable asset deeper into the season and might be harder to move now — at least without having to eat the money on his deal or give up something in return to clear that spot.
Ultimately, the Celtics’ hand will be forced by two things: outside interest in Fall around the league, and their willingness to expend the time and energy that will be required to develop Fall. The potential is undoubtedly tantalizing and he’s looked more comfortable than expected at summer league, but he’s still a project big man.
For now, the Celtics can revel in the way crowds cheer each time he heads to the scorer’s table (and boo lustily when he’s fetched from the court). Call him Tacko Summer, because, with Zion Williamson’s participation done in Vegas, Fall might be the biggest attraction.
Celtics fans are hopeful this act gets an extended run in the northeast this fall.
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