Celtics

Can Tacko Fall make the Celtics' final roster?

Can Tacko Fall make the Celtics' final roster?

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.

CELTICS TALK PODCAST: LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE >>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Celtics-Lakers Takeaways: Plenty of positives despite C's loss in L.A.

jayson_tatum_022320.jpg
AP Images

Celtics-Lakers Takeaways: Plenty of positives despite C's loss in L.A.

v

LOS ANGELES -- There are no moral victories when you are one of the top teams record-wise in the NBA.

But there’s no doubt the Boston Celtics will take many positives away from their 114-112 loss to the Lakers, which included Jayson Tatum delivering a Black Mamba-like performance with a career-high-tying 41 points. 

Tatum had one last shot to force overtime or help the Celtics steal the win, but he was called for an offensive foul with 0.8 seconds to play that sealed the victory for the Lakers.

The down-to-the-wire finish is not what anyone expected between these two teams, a game that many anticipated the Lakers would win with ease, similar to how Boston smashed them last month by 32 points.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

That loss for Los Angeles last month should have served as added motivation for the Lakers to be at their best.

Los Angeles also came in having won four in a row, along with Anthony Davis (32 points, 13 rebounds) being healthy after having missed the five previous games before the Boston beatdown last month. 

And let’s not forget the Celtics were without their top scorer, Kemba Walker (left knee).

Despite all that going on, this game came down to the wire. 

After three quarters which ended with the score tied at 87, the fourth quarter began with the Celtics getting a basket from Romeo Langford that was goal-tended. 

Moments later, Daniel Theis converted a 3-point play to push Boston’s lead up to five points. 

But the Lakers soon found their stride, regained the lead and put the Celtics in catch-up mode. 

DANIEL THEIS

In the first few minutes of Sunday’s game, Daniel Theis was the primary source of offense for the Celtics. 

And while others certainly had it going offensively more than Theis, he delivered yet another strong game at both ends of the floor. 

His defense was not all that surprising. 

The main reason he is a starter for the Celtics is because of how well he defends both individually as well as providing help and some level of rim protection. 

But more than that, he is becoming a more serviceable option offensively when defenses do a good job of not allowing those around him to have great looks at the rim. 

He finished with 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting along with nine rebounds.

JAYLEN BROWN

We have seen him show his defensive prowess a number of times this season, but the job he did on Anthony Davis in the first half was huge. 

Despite giving up several inches, Brown’s defense didn’t allow Davis to camp in the paint like he wanted to. 

And because of Brown’s quickness, Davis wasn’t able to get great looks from the perimeter as well. 

To the Lakers’ credit, they did a much better job in the second half getting Davis in more advantageous matchups which factored in him putting up a strong game statistically with 32 points and 13 rebounds. 

But that doesn’t take away or diminish the job Brown did limiting one of the more dominant players in the NBA to just eight points in the first half on 4-for-11 shooting with as many made baskets (four) as turnovers (four).

LAKERS BENCH PLAY

With Marcus Smart moving into the starting lineup with Kemba Walker (left knee) out, you knew it would have a significant impact on the production of Boston’s backups. 

Second unit scoring was the one area that the Lakers dominated Boston from the outset before finishing with a 43-11 advantage. 

But that’s not surprising when you consider the Lakers’ success this year is far more dependent on what they get from their second unit scoring-wise comparatively to Boston.

But the one positive for Boston’s second unit was the play of Romeo Langford, who spent time defending LeBron James in addition to making multiple hustle plays offensively. That led to him leading Boston’s bench in scoring with five points. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Trail Blazers, which begins Tuesday at 9 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 10 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

Celtics-Lakers Overreactions: Not trading for Anthony Davis was a blessing for C's

Celtics-Lakers Overreactions: Not trading for Anthony Davis was a blessing for C's

The Boston Celtics fell to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday in a thriller, 114-112.

Here are three instant overreactions to the C's loss, which brings them to 39-17 on the season.

1. Not trading for Anthony Davis last summer was a blessing for the Celtics.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

Anthony Davis-to-the-Celtics rumors dominated the headlines in Boston both during and after last year's disappointing Celtics season. It turns out that not pulling the trigger on a deal for the superstar big man was one of the best decisions Danny Ainge has made as C's general manager.

A trade for AD likely would have cost Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and/or Marcus Smart, and draft capital. We'll never know how a move for Davis would have impacted the C's, but we do know what Boston has going for it right now is pretty special.

Tatum has taken over the lead role, and his supporting cast of Brown, Hayward, Smart, Kemba Walker, and Daniel Theis have done a tremendous job around him. It's frightening to think about what the Celtics' core would look like right now had Ainge overreacted to the letdown 2018-19 campaign. Fortunately, C's fans don't have to live in that reality.

This isn't to take anything away from AD, who had 32 points and 13 rebounds plus a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth quarter to help L.A. earn the victory, it's simply a credit to what this year's Celtics group has been able to accomplish without him.


LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

2. Celtics can survive without Kemba Walker.

Verdict: Overreaction

The Celtics offense has been firing on all cylinders these last couple of games with their star point guard sidelined.

In Friday's win over the Timberwolves, they had four players with 25-plus points. Sunday, they had five players in double-figures and another sensational performance from Tatum.

As great as they've looked, they'll need Walker to return sooner rather than later. His presence likely would have been the difference-maker in Sunday's loss.

Fortunately, it appears Walker won't be out for too long. Head coach Brad Stevens issued an encouraging update Sunday on Walker's knee, saying he doesn't expect it to be a long-term issue.

3. We can officially call Jayson Tatum a superstar.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

We were hesitant to rush to call Tatum a superstar following his sensational performance vs. the Los Angeles Clippers, but we're no longer going to hold back. Tatum has earned the superstar label.

The 21-year-old tied his career-high in points with 41 on the day (12-for-21 shooting). This kind of dominance from Tatum has become a regularity, and the All-Star has emerged as the clear No. 1 option on his team.

He'll still have to prove he can carry Boston through this year's NBA playoffs, but there's no reason to believe he's incapable of doing so. Sit back and enjoy Tatum's rise to superstardom, because he's only just begun his ascent.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Trail Blazers, which begins Tuesday at 9 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 10 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.