Walt Lemon Jr. officially signs two-way deal with Celtics

Walt Lemon Jr. officially signs two-way deal with Celtics

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics will have at least one new face with a two-way contract this upcoming season after signing Walter Lemon Jr.

The 25-year-old guard will spend this season back and forth between the Celtics and the Maine Red Claws of the Gatorade League, with Lemon spending no more than 45 days with the Celtics.

A four-year player out of Bradley, he went undrafted in the 2014 NBA draft. 

Since then he has played both internationally as well as in the G-League. 

It was with the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants that he got a G-League call-up last season, signing a pair of 10-day contracts with the New Orleans Pelicans. He appeared in five games, averaging 3.4 points in just 7.0 minutes per game. 

The bulk of his time last season was spent with the Mad Ants, where he averaged 22.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2.03 steals per game while averaging 36.6 minutes played.


NBA rumors: Should Celtics be interested in a trade for Pacers' Domantas Sabonis?

NBA rumors: Should Celtics be interested in a trade for Pacers' Domantas Sabonis?

An intriguing young big man is reportedly available on the trade market and, given the question marks in the Celtics’ frontcourt entering the 2019-20 season, it begs the question whether Boston should be intrigued.

The Athletic reported Friday that the Pacers have engaged in trade talks involving 23-year-old big man Domantas Sabonis with the sides far apart in negotiations on a rookie extension in advance of Monday’s deadline.

Sabonis’ name was one that Celtics fans repeatedly invoked this summer after the departures of Al Horford and Aron Baynes. The Pacers last season struggled to find ways for Sabonis and center Myles Turner to coexist. Given Boston’s glut of wings, the two sides seemed like potential trade partners.

Now, it appears the Pacers are motivated and Boston still has an obvious need for a frontcourt upgrade entering the season. The trouble in finding a deal: Indiana’s asking price might simply be more than Boston is willing to pay, especially knowing they will have to pay a high price tag to retain the player after the season.

If the Pacers are simply not committed to try and make the Sabonis/Turner combination work then their leverage in the trade market is weakened. The Athletic’s report noted the Pacers’ asking price, however, has been too high.

The Celtics would not be immediately interested in putting Jaylen Brown into a potential package. The team has been engaged in extension negotiations with Brown and is intrigued to see the strides that he makes this season when Brown’s role won’t be as muddy as it was last season.

Maybe their willingness to move Brown — or another wing — will elevate as the season progresses but the team is eager to see how its youngest stars like Brown and Jayson Tatum perform outside the shadows of Kyrie Irving.

Trying to build a trade package that might interest the Pacers without Brown is a bit more daunting. Celtics first-round pick Romeo Langford, an Indiana native who played at Indiana University and was the state’s Mr. Basketball in 2018, would seemingly intrigue the Pacers and makes the money work in a deal. Still, the Pacers would seemingly be seeking an immediate impact player and/or some of Boston’s future first-round picks, which might be more than Boston is willing to pay given the commitment it would take to maintain Sabonis.

Sabonis has no shortage of potential in a bigger role. He averaged 14.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists over just 24.8 minutes per game last season while utilized almost exclusively as a reserve (five starts in 74 appearances). Sabonis is an excellent rebounder, ranking 10th in the NBA in defensive rebound percentage (26.9) and 12th in total rebound percentage (18.4).

Defensively, he’s not quite the Joel Embiid/Giannis Antetokounmpo stopper that the Celtics so clearly need to truly contend in the Eas,t but Indiana’s defensive numbers with Sabonis on the court last season were encouraging. The Pacers limited opponents to 103.8 points per 100 possessions with Sabonis on the floor over 1,811 minutes and that number spiked to 106.1 in the 2,082 minutes that Sabonis was on the bench.

Sabonis’ defensive stats were aided by Turner’s presence as Indiana’s defensive rating dropping to 99.2 in the 434 minutes the duo shared the court. And the more noticeable spike with Sabonis on the court without Turner was on the offensive end as Indiana’s offensive rating shot to 109.4 but it was negated slightly by the defensive rating spiking to 104.

Ultimately, the Pacers might simply be gauging Sabonis’ trade value in advance of the tough decision about how to proceed with their bigs. The Celtics should be intrigued but also do not need to rush into a deal before getting a glimpse of how all their new bigs look at the start of the season.

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Celtics Spotlight: Grant Williams brings energy, poise beyond his rookie status

Celtics Spotlight: Grant Williams brings energy, poise beyond his rookie status

Usually, when rookies get tasked with addressing a crowd, it’s the veterans putting a young player in an awkward situation. But Grant Williams isn’t your typical rookie.

Taking the stage at the Celtics’ Shamrock Foundation Gala on Thursday night, Williams and teammate Enes Kanter were tasked with saying hello and setting the agenda for the evening. In the blink of an eye, Williams convinced the crowd to sing an impromptu version of "Happy Birthday" to Vincent Poirier, then led an auction chant that quick raised $75,000 for charity.

Spotlights: Walker | Smart | Brown | Hayward | Kanter |

Tatum | Fall | Wanamaker | Ojeleye | Edwards 

Yes, Williams brings an undeniable poise and energy to everything that he does, including when he’s on the basketball court. That’s why the 22nd pick from June’s draft is likely to have an immediate opportunity to earn playing time in Boston. It also helps his cause that good things tend to happen when he’s on the court (and, evidently, the mic, too). 

It’s a successful season for Williams if… 

…he remains a plus/minus monster like we saw at summer league and again in the preseason. Williams does a little bit of everything and, while it’s unfair to expect him to replace Al Horford’s contributions, he can bring a bit of what the team lost in screening, passing, and simply making the right play. Williams shot the ball well beyond the 3-point arc (41.7 percent) in the preseason, an encouraging sign for a player that shot 29.1 percent from distance for his college career. If he ultimately proves he can joust with NBA bigs despite giving up size, the 6-foot-6 (without shoes) Williams can carve out a role in this new-look frontcourt.

It’s a disappointing season for Williams if… 

…his size becomes an issue against NBA bigs. The preseason was an encouraging glimpse but how does Williams hold up against a team like Philadelphia with its Horford/Joel Embiid front line? Williams has brought a lightheartedness to the team since his arrival and it’d be a disappointment if he lost any of that youthful exuberance for any reason.

2019-2020 Outlook

Williams impacts the game in so many ways that it’s easy to see him carving out a role, and one that might grow as the season goes on. Williams has got a bit of PJ Tucker in him and he’s probably as close to a Horford-type big as the team has. Celtics coach Brad Stevens has already said Williams will have a long NBA career and his basketball IQ alone will distinguish him among his rookie peers.

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