Celtics

Tacko Fall is a 'high priority' for Celtics, has a chance to make team

Tacko Fall is a 'high priority' for Celtics, has a chance to make team

Yes, Tacko Fall is ridiculously tall. Yes, he's fascinating to watch.

But the Boston Celtics are hoping the 7-foot-7 big man is more than a novelty act.

Speaking on NBC Sports Boston after an introductory press conference for Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge expressed optimism that Fall can remain a part of the team this season.

"I think that Tacko's going to have a chance to make the roster. But we'll see," Ainge told co-hosts Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine at the Auerbach Center.  "... We see some upside there. We're excited about him."

Fall, who averaged 7.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game in the NBA Summer League, is signed on an Exhibit 10 contract, which means another team could swoop in and sign him at any point, even if he survives roster cuts and joins the G-League affiliate Maine Red Claws.

But the Celtics could protect Fall by signing him to a roster spot (perhaps on a two-way contract), which they have available after waiving Guerschon Yabusele. And in discussing Fall's play in Las Vegas, Ainge suggested that's a possibility

"Tacko is fun to watch," Ainge told reporters Wednesday. "I mean, he makes me laugh. Some of the plays he makes are hilarious, because you just don't see them. Guards get in a bind and they just throw the ball up in the air and then Tacko grabs it and tip-toe dunks it into the basket. It just looks like a senior in high school playing against fourth-graders sometimes out there.

"He's a great kid, he's working really hard. We want to take his development very, very seriously. He's a high priority for us to try to really develop into a player."

Ainge said Fall is in Boston working out but will head back to his native Senegal to see his family, so his fate may not be decided until later this summer.

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CJ McCollum can't help but laugh at Jayson Tatum contract extension report

CJ McCollum can't help but laugh at Jayson Tatum contract extension report

Should the Boston Celtics offer Jayson Tatum a maximum contract extension after the 2019-20 season?

CJ McCollum thinks it's ridiculous to even ask that question.

The Portland Trail Blazers guard apparently found humor in a report from ESPN's Brian Windhorst this weekend that the Celtics "most likely" will offer Tatum a maximum extension this coming offseason.

Translation: McCollum believes Tatum deserves his money, and that it's not up for debate.

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It's hard to argue with McCollum, either: Tatum was enjoying a breakout third season for Boston before the NBA shut down on March 11, averaging career highs in points (23.6), rebounds (7.1) and assists (2.9) per game while earning his first career All-Star nod.

Many believe the 22-year-old has superstar potential, with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith even saying Tatum could be the NBA's best player one day.

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Tatum is set to make $9.9 million next season on the final year of his rookie contract. (He has a qualifying offer for the 2021-22 season.) After the C's gave Jaylen Brown a four-year extension last fall, it would make sense for them to lock up their other young rising star.

There is an unknown regarding the NBA salary cap, which could decrease this offseason as a result of lost league revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic and thus decrease the value of a max contract for Tatum.

But if Tatum gets his money, he'll likely be getting a call from Utah Jazz star and fellow Team USA member Donovan Mitchell.

Celtics' Marcus Smart using voice, platform to raise awareness for social justice reform

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Celtics' Marcus Smart using voice, platform to raise awareness for social justice reform

BOSTON — Of the thousands who walked the streets of Boston protesting the death of George Floyd on Sunday, all you could see clearly were their eyes just above their mask-covered noses and mouths. 

The look was appropriate, because there is no denying the awakening that has engulfed this country since the death of Floyd last week. 

Like most of us, Marcus Smart never knew Floyd until his death became a national rallying cry for systemic change. 

But it wasn’t the first time Smart had seen or heard of an African-American man being killed at the hands of a law enforcement official. 

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But this was different; so different that it moved Smart and so many others in the NBA and across the country in ways we have not seen before. 

Which is why Smart was among the thousands of protestors walking the streets of Boston early Sunday evening, seeking to continue to raise awareness to the litany of societal issues that have been magnified in many respects following Floyd’s death. 

“We wanted to come out here and let our voices be heard,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston. “We stand for the truth; we stand for justice and won’t stop until we get justice and that’s what this is about.”

NBA players champion causes all the time. 

But this is different; different because of the personal tone that it has taken with a league that has an overwhelming majority of African-American players. 

It also resonates on a larger scale because of the NBA season being suspended, so the usual getaway from the ills of society for players is not there. 

Smart’s participation in Sunday’s protest came 24 hours after fellow Celtic Jaylen Brown led a similar protest near Atlanta which is not too far from his Marietta, Ga. hometown. 

While a number of athletes across the sports spectrum have been using their voice and platform to help generate more open dialogues about racism, police brutality and various societal issues that have stemmed from Floyd’s death, NBA players have arguably been the professional league whose players have been the most outspoken.

Whether it’s a LeBron James tweet or a Karl-Anthony Towns video, the NBA has arguably the strongest voice of any professional league on this topic.

“For us, we see it (racism) just as much as anybody,” Smart said. “We go through prejudice on a daily basis just as anybody. Our faces are shown more so people know us more.

We have a platform God has given us to go out here and spread the word and not be silent. For us, some of us have lost someone in that situation or know someone who lost someone in that situation. So in the NBA, especially for us, we’re a brotherhood.

And while we’ve seen in the past some professional players be hesitant to speak out on racism and police brutality for fear of reprisal from the teams they play for or fans, Smart has been pleased with the support he and his teammates have received from the Boston Celtics organization.

Late Sunday night, the Celtics released the following statement:
 
Like many others across the country, the heartbreaking and senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, along with other recent events, have left the entire Celtics organization struggling with grief and anger.
 
During a time in which the phrase “new normal” has often been used as our nation has struggled with the devastation of a pandemic, we imagine and hope for a “new normal” where every citizen is afforded the same rights, has the same opportunities, receives the same treatment, and can peacefully enjoy every freedom promised to all of us.
 
The Boston Celtics have always stood for the ideals of equality, understanding, and respect. We can’t simply hope and pray for these things, we need to lead through our actions. We stand with our players, employees, partners, and fans in being committed to championing the change we need. We need to be honest about confronting racism and abuse of power. We can and must demand equality for everyone. We can and will respond by committing to being part of the solution.

 
Said Smart, “For the Celtics to take a stand and support what we do, it shows how much this organization cares about its players and cares about the right thing to do.”

Indeed, the work of the Celtics, Smart and his teammates and other NBA players is important on this matter. 

No one disputes that or downplays its value. 

But the larger, more cancerous disease that’s triggering all this is racism. 

And the only way any meaningful progress will be made along those lines, is if folks like Smart and the rest of the NBA remain woke to the moment, seize it, and make the kind of transformative change that their voice and platform will allow to happen.