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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