Celtics

Celtics gain roster flexibility in shedding Guerschon Yabusele

Celtics gain roster flexibility in shedding Guerschon Yabusele

The Guerschon Yabusele era, revered for its throwback velour tracksuits and bow-and-arrow slinging post-3-point celebrations, ended Wednesday when the Boston Celtics waived the 23-year-old big man.

The Celtics are on the hook for his $3.1 million salary and are essentially signaling that they see a greater value in an open roster spot than waiting for Yabusele to become an in-season trade asset.

Boston has some flexibility now to maneuver in advance of training camp. The team can use its open spot to ensure summer league celebrity Tacko Fall stays on their roster, though there’s no rush to do such until rival teams begin inquiring about his availability. The Celtics planned to sign second-round pick Tremont Waters and undrafted Max Strus to their pair of available two-way deals but could also elevate one of those players to Yabusele’s roster spot if they preferred to make Fall a two-way player.

The Celtics might be content to patiently examine potential trade possibilities with a goal of adding more proven talent, the open roster spot allowing the acquisition of an additional player should the team need that spot in an uneven swap.

It felt like Yabusele was playing for his roster spot heading into summer league. Even with the Celtics thin on bigs with the departures of Al Horford, Aron Baynes, and Marcus Morris, the team’s burst of offseason signings — Enes Kanter, Daniel Theis, and Vince Poirier — combined with the drafting of Grant Williams hinted that the jury was still very much out on whether Yabusele could be a contributor.

A subpar start to Vegas summer league spelled Yabusele’s demise. Pressing or not, he had a dismal summer debut then dislocated his pinkie finger diving for a loose ball in Ggame 2. Yabusele never showed the confidence and poise of a player in his third summer league and the lack of encouraging signs made the choice to move on a bit easier.

The natural tendency when a team lets go of a disappointing first-round pick is to point at all the players they missed on that were drafted after him. Scream and yell about the likes of Caris LeVert all you’d like, but the Celtics had prioritized players with draft-and-stash potential after nabbing Jaylen Brown at No. 3 in the 2016 draft. That made Yabusele and Ante Zizic that much more attractive at spots Nos. 16 and 23.

What you can lament is how the Celtics at least utilized Zizic as part of the trade package that brought back All-NBA guard Kyrie Irving. The Celtics are moving on from Yabusele and eating his money assuming no one picks him up on waivers (which seems unlikely when he would be a minimum-salary pickup after the fact).

In cutting Yabusele loose now, the Celtics give him a chance to find an opportunity elsewhere in advance of training camp. His locker room presence will be missed as teammates genuinely liked Yabusele's fun-loving nature. But Boston can use his spot to find a far more impactful player (or at least one they can try to develop to be such).

The Celtics are still well below the tax line so they can afford to eat the money without fear of the big-spender penalties. If they elected to stretch Yabusele’s money out over multiple seasons, it might afford them some extra money to negotiate a deal with second-round picks like Carsen Edwards and Waters, who the team could lock up for longer than what they could otherwise on minimum deals.

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NBA Rumors: Romeo Langford will be cleared for full basketball activities by start of Celtics training camp

NBA Rumors: Romeo Langford will be cleared for full basketball activities by start of Celtics training camp

With Celtics training camp set to begin on October 1, there is a bit of good news on one of the team's first round rookies. 

According to Keith Smith, Romeo Langford, who missed all of Summer League recovering from thumb surgery, will be cleared for full basketball activities by the start of camp. 

Langford is the youngest of the Celtics first round picks and arguably the player who needed the most reps during Summer League to get ready for his rookie season in the NBA. While those Summer League reps can't be regained, Langford will at least won't have to miss extra time getting acclimated to his new team. 

In early August, Langford told Tom Westerholm that his thumb was "basically" back to normal, but he hadn't participated in any contact activities. So over the past month-and-a-half, Langford has been healthy enough to continue to work on his jump shot, which the Celtics have begun to overhaul with a ping pong paddle

The Celtics will have to deal with a relatively uncertain future following Kyrie Irving and Al Horford's departures and the arrival of Kemba Walker. They'll need to hit on their draft picks in order to build a young core that can either contend with Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart or one that can be exchanged for a superstar talent that will. Having Langford ready to go at the start of training camp is at least a step in the right direction. 

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who will be the Celtics' most impactful rookie?

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who will be the Celtics' most impactful rookie?

When the Boston Celtics open training camp next month, they will have a whopping eight first-year players on the court. That number will include four drafted rookies, two summer league standouts on camp invitations, an undrafted two-way player, and a European import.

In the fourth installment of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our NBC Sports Boston panel to pick which of those rookies will have the biggest impact on the Celtics during the 2019-20 season.

Boston drafted four rookies in Romeo Langford (14th overall), Grant Williams (22), Carsen Edwards (33), and Tremont Waters (51). They later signed undrafted swingman Max Strus to one of their two-way deals, while summer league standouts Javonte Green and Tacko Fall are coming to camp with a chance to compete for a final roster spot. The Celtics also signed French 7-footer Vincent Poirier to add another body to their frontcourt.

That’s a lot of youth and inexperience but, then again, only four Celtics players have more than three years of NBA experience overall in Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, and Enes Kanter. Which is to say that there will be plenty of opportunities for younger players to make an immediate impact if they prove themselves ready for immediate minutes.

Typically, you might lean towards the lottery pick but Langford missed all of summer league while rehabbing from thumb surgery and will be playing a bit of catchup when camp opens.

Given Boston’s new-look frontcourt following the departure of Al Horford and Aron Baynes, it would seem a solid bet to suggest that Grant Williams or Poirier might have the clearest path to contributing. As you’ll read below, our panel leaned heavy in that direction and we’d probably be inclined to agree with their pick.

But we could also make the case for Edwards, an elite bucket-getter at the college level who showed at summer league that he’s not bashful about getting up shots. The departure of Terry Rozier could open an opportunity for backup guard minutes and if Edwards can give a little offensive jolt to the second unit, he could carve out minutes.

Scoring against rotation NBA players won’t be as easy as it was against rookies and roster hopefuls at summer league but Edwards can create his own shot, brings some rugged defense, and will have a chance to stake his claim for backcourt minutes.

Abby Chin: Grant Williams

The Celtics need all the help they can get in the frontcourt. The opportunity is there. And I feel like there’s a lot of hype surrounding the smart, versatile, if a little undersized, Tennessee product. I’m expecting big things.

 

A. Sherrod Blakely: Grant Williams

The team's lack of depth and overall uncertainty in the frontcourt means all their bigs, Grant Williams included, will get a chance to play. He won't wow us with his numbers but his basketball savvy will come in handy on some nights and play a role in the Celtics winning more games than most anticipate.

 

Max Lederman: Grant Williams

Williams already has an NBA body (strength wise, at least) and is a smart, winning player. I was also really impressed with his willingness to let the game come to him in summer league, which shows me he'll be fine in whatever role the team asks him to play. He's also a concrete wall setting screens.

Countdown to C's Camp: Awards predictions>>>

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