Celtics

Explaining the Celtics' roster moves and what a 2-way deal means for Tacko Fall

Explaining the Celtics' roster moves and what a 2-way deal means for Tacko Fall

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics made a pair of roster moves Sunday to ensure that Tacko Fall remains a part of the organization beyond training camp.

The 7-foot-7 Fall, who had been with the team on a training camp invite since the summer, was signed to a 2-way slot after the Celtics signed fellow undrafted rookie Max Strus to a partially guaranteed NBA deal that now forces him to compete for Boston’s final available slot on its 15-man roster.

For the casual fan, the roster gymnastics might all be a bit confusing so let’s break this down a bit.

The Celtics signed Strus after June’s draft with a promise of one of the team’s two 2-way roster spots, which allows a player to spend time with both the parent club and the G-League affiliate. The other 2-way spot was earmarked for second-round pick Tremont Waters, one of Boston’s four draftees.

Boston originally signed Fall to an Exhibit 10 contract, which is essentially a training camp invite with a player in line to collect bonus money if they are waived and funneled to the team’s G-League affiliate.

What the Celtics probably didn’t expect was that Fall would become a viral sensation at Vegas Summer League in July, not only because of his sheer height but because of his raw potential. The Celtics were hoping that, given their glut of rookies, they might be able to sneak Fall through to the G-League as a final camp cut but it became evident that another team would likely pounce on him if waived.

As TackoMania swept the region, the Celtics essentially moved Sunday to ensure Fall would stick with the organization. Here’s how they did it:

1) Strus agreed to a partially guaranteed deal that essentially ensures he collects the money he would have earned as a two-way player regardless of whether he makes Boston’s 15-man roster. Strus had to know his 2-way spot was in jeopardy if the Celtics had no other means of keeping Fall and got some financial security should he be searching for a new employer at the end of camp. Strus, who first wowed Celtics brass with his shooting at pre-draft workouts, is still an intriguing prospect and will have the remainder of camp to state his case for that final roster spot.

2) Fall agreed to a 2-way deal that ensures that he cannot be poached by a rival. The contract type, introduced in the summer of 2017, allow teams to carry two players outside the 15-man NBA roster. Fall can now spend a maximum of 45 total days — or about a quarter of the season — with the parent club while spending the majority of his time developing in the G-League.

This is a win/win for Fall and the Celtics. TackoMania will be a monster draw for the Red Claws, an organization that the Celtics purchased this summer. Boston brass is headed to Portland on Tuesday for a preseason announcement and Sunday’s maneuvering allows them to champion Fall’s impending arrival as well. The Claws should have no problems selling tickets with Fall alone, let alone the other rookies that will likely visit on assignment in order to get heftier game reps during the season.

The Celtics still have an open spot on the 15-man roster — vacant since the team waived Guerschon Yabusele during summer league — and both Strus and summer league standout Javonte Green are here on partially guaranteed deals trying to stake their claim to that spot.

Boston does not have to fill that roster spot — potentially valuing the flexibility later in the season over carrying one of those players — but Green in particular has made a strong case for that spot with his play in Boston’s preseason slate. Strus’ strongest work has come behind closed doors at Boston’s practices were his shooting continues to distinguish him.

The Celtics have two other non-roster players in camp in Yante Maten and Kaiser Gates. Both are longshots for a final roster spot but can latch on with the Red Claws as affiliated players if they are final camp cuts.

TackoMania is now more secure than ever in New England. The Celtics will get every opportunity now to watch Fall develop and attempt to mold him into a NBA-caliber big. Brad Stevens can expect those “We Want Tacko!” chants throughout the season now.

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Celtics had a terrific celebration planned for Grant Williams' first 3-pointer

Celtics had a terrific celebration planned for Grant Williams' first 3-pointer

Even the best-laid plans go awry when you're too excited about your teammate making his first career 3-pointer.

Celtics rookie Grant Williams finally hit a deep ball Monday night in the third quarter of Boston's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, ending an 0-for-25 spell to begin his NBA career and causing his teammates to go wild on the bench.

It was a hilarious celebration for a cool moment -- but not the celebration the Celtics had planned.

Backup point guard Brad Wanamaker told the Boston Sports Journal's Brian Robb what should have happened after Williams' first 3-pointer.

If you watch the video, Wanamaker actually stuck to the plan and "passed out" on the sideline, but the rest of his teammates were too excited (shocked, perhaps?) to remember to follow suit.

We appreciate the effort, Brad.

According to Williams, his teammates' celebration also included some colorful language.

"A lot of it was graphic," Williams told reporters when asked what the Celtics were yelling at him after his 3-pointer. "Especially Carsen (Edwards), you know. But outside of that, it was a good moment, just because they were celebrating me."

It helped that the C's were cruising to a 110-88 win over the Cavs, giving them full latitude to celebrate Williams first deep ball however they wanted.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pacers, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Kemba Walker stays ready, even in blowouts, when it matters for the Celtics

Kemba Walker stays ready, even in blowouts, when it matters for the Celtics

BOSTON -- Kemba Walker had every reason to think that his night was over going into the fourth quarter. 

Boston had a commanding lead against a Cleveland Cavaliers squad that’s considered one of the worst teams in the NBA. 

But as the game got a little too close for head coach Brad Stevens’ comfort, he turned to Walker.

And Walker responded with a barrage of 3-pointers that left the Cavs as nothing more than collateral damage in the wake of Boston’s 110-88 win. 

Walker finished with a game-high 22 points which included a trio of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that put the Cavs (5-18) away for good. 

Boston led by as many as 29 points in the second half, only to see that lead down to as little as 14 points in the fourth with seven minutes to play. 

That’s when he called on Walker who came up with one big shot after another. 

And the way Walker responded in the fourth quarter when called upon by Stevens was a reminder of just how important it has become for the best players to be locked in from the opening tip-off to the final horn - even when victory seems all but a given. 

Said Stevens: “I just told the team afterwards, ‘If you want to be special then model after Kemba because Kemba sits over there thinks his night’s done, gets put back into the game, drills three 3’s and ends it.

Stevens added, “Special is not for everybody.”

Having spent his first eight seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, Walker knows exactly what the Cavs were thinking as they steadily chipped away at Boston’s lead.

Understanding the mindset of a team and players on the comeback trail has helped Walker appreciate and embrace the need to always stay on top of his game and ready to go - even when victory seems all but a given. 

Walker understands how a player can lose focus on the game and become relaxed down the stretch in what appears to be a blowout in the making. 

“It’s possible,” Walker says before adding, “But at the end of the day you have to stay engaged through the whole game. You just never know. In this league, 20-point leads go so fast. Teams can score in bunches really fast. You have to stay engaged.”

Which is exactly what he did. 

That not only helped Boston get the victory on Monday, but also served as a great example for the team’s younger players on how to handle themselves when things get sidetracked after going just the way they want them to for most of the game. 

“He set a great example, what he’s done in this league for a very long time,” Tatum said. “That’s why he’s one of the best players in the league.”

And a leader on this team. 

“As one of the leaders I feel I have to stay engaged,” Walker said. “Just like … you never know what to expect.  This league, guys can score so fast and easy. You just never know when teams will come back. It can get a little nerve-racking and Brad felt he had to put me back in. I knew once I got in there, I had to be more aggressive, look for my shot a little more and that’s what I did.”

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Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pacers, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.