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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Jaylen Brown has Marcus Smart's back after NBA Awards finalist snub

Jaylen Brown has Marcus Smart's back after NBA Awards finalist snub

There's what NBA Awards voters think about the best players in basketball -- and then there's what the players think.

The league announced three finalists for each individual award for the 2019-20 season Saturday, and no Boston Celtics player (or coach) made the final cut.

But were any Celtics players deserving? Jaylen Brown apparently believes so. Here's what the C's wing tweeted Saturday afternoon:

The league announced Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, Los Angeles Lakers big man Anthony Davis and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert as the three finalists for Defensive Player of the Year earlier in the day.

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If you ask Brown, though, C's teammate Marcus Smart is a better defender than all three All-Stars.

Smart's "Defensive Player of the Year" campaign began early in the 2019-20 season and gained plenty of supporters, including former Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade.

History wasn't on Smart's side, however: A guard hasn't won DPOY since Gary Payton in 1996, and the gritty Celtics shooting guard entered the NBA bubble as a +10000 long shot to win the award.

But Brown gets to see Smart make incredible defensive plays -- and lock up NBA stars of all shapes and sizes -- on a nightly basis.

So, while Smart won't be officially recognized for his defensive prowess this season, his peers still know what he brings to the table.

NBA Awards finalists: Kemba Walker believes ex-Hornets teammate got snubbed

NBA Awards finalists: Kemba Walker believes ex-Hornets teammate got snubbed

Kemba Walker still has plenty of love for his former Charlotte Hornets teammates -- especially when he feels they're being disrespected.

The NBA revealed its individual award finalists for the 2019-20 season Saturday, among them the three candidates for Most Improved Player: Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram.

If you ask Walker, though, that list should have included Hornets guard Devonte Graham. The Boston Celtics guard tagged Graham in the comment section of the NBA's Instagram post along with a "puzzled look" emoji.

Walker wasn't alone: Charlotte's P.J. Washington, Dwyane Bacon and Miles Bridges all replied with similar comments -- as did Graham himself on his own Instagram story.

"So disrespectful but it is what it is," Graham wrote Saturday afternoon.

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Kemba and Co. may have a case: Graham exploded for 18.2 points and 7.5 assists per game this season after averaging 4.7 points and 2.6 assists per game while backing up Walker as a rookie in 2018-19.

Then again, you also could make a case for two of Walker's current teammates in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who both are enjoying career seasons for the Celtics.

Walker was very close with last season's young Hornets squad, though, so his support of Graham isn't surprising.

The C's will be shut out of this year's NBA Awards ceremony, as no Celtics players were named finalists for any award (despite Marcus Smart's early campaign for Defensive Player of the Year).

Here's the full list of finalists for each award:

Most Valuable Player
• Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
• James Harden, Houston Rockets
• LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Rookie of the Year
• Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
• Kendrick Nunn, Miami Heat
• Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans

Defensive Player of the Year
• Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
• Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
• Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Sixth Man Award
• Montrezl Harrell, LA Clippers 
• Dennis Schröder, Oklahoma City Thunder
• Lou Williams, LA Clippers

Most Improved Player
• Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
• Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks 
• Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans

Coach of the Year
• Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee Bucks
• Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City Thunder
• Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors