Brad Wanamaker

What's it like playing without fans? Celtics' Brad Wanamaker shares his experience

What's it like playing without fans? Celtics' Brad Wanamaker shares his experience

Playing without fans will be a brand new experience for many NBA players when 22 teams descend on Walt Disney World Resort in Florida later this month to resume the 2019-20 season.

Boston Celtics point guard Brad Wanamaker actually knows what it's like to not play with fans in the crowd.

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Wanamaker faced the situation in high school and while he was playing professionally overseas. 

"I played a few games overseas where we couldn't have fans because of some violent things fans did in previous games," Wanamaker said Friday in a video conference call. "So they banned fans because some fans got in fights before (the game). And also in high school I played a few games with no fans because the team that was our rival, the year before we played each other in the championship game and a big riot broke out after the game. So the next year we had to play with no fans. AAU basketball is very similar to this situation, too. I guess once the ball tips off it feels normal."

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What's it like playing with no fans? Wanamaker stressed the need to bring your own energy to the court because you won't get any boost from the crowd.

"It's self motivation, in a way, because you don't have the fans to get you going on a highlight play or something, so you really have to be strong within the team," Wanamaker explained. "I think we have a good team here, and I think we have a good bond. I think that would be to our advantage.

"But it was definitely different. You couldn't get hyped for certain plays as you usually get. The energy was different in the crowd. Your own energy you have to bring. We're human -- you're not always up to par to playing in the games sometimes and you need little things to get you going. Sometimes the fans help out with that. Here it's got to be your teammates that you lean on more."

Wanamaker is confident the Celtics have a strong enough team chemistry to help pull each other through any challenges that await them in Orlando.

"It's very unique. We all cheer for each other," Wanamaker said of the team's bond. "We all want each other to do well, whether we're playing the bulk of the minutes or somebody else. As you've seen throughout the season, we're constantly cheering each other on, and giving each other advice throughout the game. Obviously there are egos on a team, but ours don't stand out as much because everyone wants to see each other win and do well. That's another advantage for us."

Training camps for the 22 teams are expected to begin late next week, with the first seeding games taking place on July 30. The Celtics' first seeding game is set for July 31 against the first-place Milwaukee Bucks. Every seeding game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Boston.

NBA salary cap, luxury tax creating difficult decisions for Celtics' bench

NBA salary cap, luxury tax creating difficult decisions for Celtics' bench

The Boston Celtics have some difficult roster decisions looming after the season and the coronavirus pandemic could put a financial squeeze on a team that’s positioned to plunge into the luxury tax.

If Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter opt into the final season of their contracts with the Celtics, the team could have as much as $144 million committed before they even sign their draft picks and any free agents. That’s a sobering number considering the NBA salary cap and luxury tax threshold could actually dip from this season due to lost revenues.

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Hayward, as detailed earlier in our COVID-19 series, is likely to opt into his $34.2 million player option. Kanter can trigger a $5 million option to return, while the Celtics will almost certainly choose to carry Daniel Theis at his bargain $5 million nonguaranteed salary. All of which would push Boston’s salary commitment to nearly $140 million for just 12 players.

The salary cap for the 2019-20 season was $109 million with a luxury tax line of $132.6 million. The Celtics sit at roughly $119 million in salary for the 2019-20 campaign, but that number will spike next year in part because Jaylen Brown’s rookie extension kicks in. The salary cap was expected to climb to $115 million for the 2020-21 campaign with a $139 million tax line but now both could drop because of lost revenues.

Those economics could put a squeeze on the back end of Boston’s roster especially for: 

Semi Ojeleye: The Celtics hold a $1.8 million team option on the third-year forward. That’s not a prohibitive number when you consider it’s not much more than a minimum salary but, with a squeeze on roster spots and as many as three incoming first-round picks, the team will have a tough decision about Ojeleye’s future. 

Brad Wanamaker: The Celtics can extend a $1.9 million qualifying offer if they desire to bring back the backup point guard but that might simply be a position they can address in the draft. The soon-to-be 31-year-old Wanamaker has been a steady depth option but has a limited ceiling. The Celtics might be able to replace him with a younger player with more upside to learn behind Kemba Walker.

Javonte Green: The high-flying 26-year-old muscled his way onto the Celtics’ roster after years of playing overseas. But he’s got a nonguaranteed $1.5 million salary for next season and might be the casualty of a bloated roster. The Celtics are well stocked with wing talent and might simply not have the roster space to let Green develop.

* Tacko Fall, Tremont Waters: The Celtics must decide if they can carry either of their 2-way players from the 2019-20 season on the parent roster. Waters was excellent in the minors but played only 89 minutes with Boston. Fall was a massively popular big man who showed intriguing potential but remains a long-term project to develop. Yet again, roster space could dictate decisions.

Even those with guaranteed contracts for next season might not be safe from roster management. If Hayward opts in, he’d become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020-21 season and the Celtics must decide if he’s part of their core and what they can spend to keep him here. Remember, too, a new deal for Jayson Tatum could be kicking in that summer, leaving the Celtics very top heavy in salary.

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Marcus Smart’s salary ($13.5 million) will always leave him in trade chatter, if only because Boston doesn’t currently have any other movable salaries in that tier. His value to the team, though, might be greater than his salary. Vincent Poirier played only 114 minutes in 21 games in his paused rookie season and wasn't able to crack the big-man rotation.

The Celtics will have as many as three first-round picks this year, including a potential lottery pick from Memphis if the Grizzlies don’t make the playoffs in the restarted season. Boston also projects at picks Nos. 26 (its own) and 30 (via Milwaukee). Unless the team plans to draft and stash, or push picks into future seasons, there’s a glut of young players with three rookies from last year’s draft already on the roster (Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, Carsen Edwards).

A lower tax line simply adds a layer of complexity to next season’s roster construction. Even as a non-repeater, the Celtics would be on the hook for a hefty check to the league. Let’s say the Celtics’ salary is $145 million and the tax line lands at $135 million. Boston would have to write the league a check for $16.3 million based on the incremental tax rate. Anything north of $10 million over the tax line gets steep in a hurry.

The Celtics must utilize each of its roster spots wisely and it’s a tough puzzle to piece together for a team that must balance hopes of title contention with not overspending if the team fails to be among the NBA’s elite.

Want to see more of the Celtics' young guys? You'll get your wish tonight

Want to see more of the Celtics' young guys? You'll get your wish tonight

BOSTON — No matter the sport, there’s this insatiable appetite among fans for the newest members of a team to get on the floor and play.

Well, Celtics fans will get their wish tonight when they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers with a roster that’s even more depleted (and green) than usual.

It has been common for the Celtics to be without one of their top four or five players for a game here and there. 

But all of them?

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Here’s the rundown:

As part of Kemba Walker’s load management between now and the playoffs, he’s unlikely to play in back-to-back games, so that rules him out for tonight.

Gordon Hayward suffered a right knee bruise in the second quarter of Boston’s 129-120 overtime loss to Brooklyn on Tuesday, so he’s out tonight as well. 

Jaylen Brown, who was unavailable down the stretch against the Nets because of a hamstring injury, has been ruled out as well, while Jayson Tatum is officially probable after sitting out Tuesday night because of a cold.

Throw in the uncertainty of Marcus Smart’s availability after a heated exchange with the officials in Tuesday’s loss, and those who want to see the young Celtics on the floor … you got it now!

Players like Romeo Langford, who has thus far shown himself to be a better-than-expected defender, will likely see increased playing time and be called upon to look for his shot more often.

Carsen Edwards returns to an arena tonight in Cleveland where he dazzled in the preseason with a ridiculous eight made 3-pointers … in one quarter of play. 

Tremont Waters, one of Boston’s two-way contract players, has been among the G-League’s top players and has looked more than NBA-ready in this brief stints with the Celtics. 

He too should benefit from having an increased role tonight. 

Rookie Javonte Green, coming off a career-high eight rebounds against the Nets, is arguably Boston’s most athletic player and a strong candidate to start tonight. 

With the freedom to look to score more now that so many of the team’s usual scorers are out, don’t be surprised if we see Green have one of his best games as a pro scoring the ball. 

But of all the new guys who will have an increased role of sorts tonight, the one to watch closely is Grant Williams. 

He is one of the team’s best communicators defensively and will be looked upon to be that vocal presence on the floor to help ensure players are where they are supposed to be in order to make an impact on the game. 

Second-year guard Brad Wanamaker will also be a key player in Boston’s rotation. 

While he has played in all but one game this season for Boston, Wanamaker has been around long enough to know that even if a player or two is down, one can’t assume that means more playing time. 

And the flip side of that is even when everyone is healthy to play, that doesn’t make playing time for reserves such as himself out of the question, either. 

It all adds up to a game of uncertainty for the Celtics; unsure of who can be counted on to contribute.

“You just have to stay ready at all times,” Wanamaker told NBC Sports Boston. “You really never know when your number is going to be called. That’s the great thing about playing for Brad (Stevens). You don’t know when he’ll call on you, but you know he will, sooner or later. You just have to stay ready all the time, that’s all.”

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which begins Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.