The Boston Celtics announced today that they have waived Tyler Zeller after three seasons with the club. Zeller had a fully non-guaranteed contract for the 2017-18 season that would have become fully guaranteed at $8 million if he was not waived by July 2nd.
Zeller was originally acquired by Boston in July of 2014 from the Cleveland Cavaliers along with a first-round pick and Marcus Thornton in a three-team trade that involved the Brooklyn Nets. The Cavaliers were clearing cap space at the time to bring LeBron James back to Cleveland. The first-round pick and Marcus Thornton were later traded by Boston to acquire Isaiah Thomas.
In July of 2016, the Celtics signed Zeller to a two-year contract, with the second season fully non-guaranteed. It has been speculated that second season was added to give Boston a potential trade chip in Zeller.
In his three seasons in Boston, Zeller started 67 of the 193 games he played. He averaged 7.1 points per game, including a career-best 10.2 points per game in 2014-15. He also pulled down 4.0 rebounds per game over 15.4 minutes per game.
This past season Zeller played in just 51 games, as he was the Celtics’ fifth big man behind Al Horford, Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko. However, Zeller never complained, stayed ready and played his role when called upon. He was lauded for his hard work in practices and ability to stay engaged, despite the inconsistent playing time.
Zeller had to be waived with Boston clearing max cap space to make a run at Gordon Hayward and other free agents this summer. This does not preclude the Celtics from potentially bringing him back after they complete the rest of their offseason transactions.