After a long, eventful offseason, we’re almost there! In less than two weeks, the Boston Celtics will have Media Day and then will kick off training camp for the 2019-20 season.
Boston recently completed filling out their 20-man roster for training camp/preseason with the addition of Yante Maten. Here is where the Celtics currently stand roster-wise:
· Fully Guaranteed Contracts (14): Jaylen Brown, Carsen Edwards, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Romeo Langford, Semi Ojeleye, Vincent Poirier, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Daniel Theis, Kemba Walker, Brad Wanamaker, Grant Williams, Robert Williams
· Partially Guaranteed Contract (1): Javonte Green
· Exhibit 10/Summer Contracts (3): Tacko Fall, Kaiser Gates, Yante Maten
· Two-Way Contracts (2): Max Strus, Tremont Waters
If you prefer Brad Stevens’ positional parlance:
· Ballhandlers (5): Carsen Edwards, Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker, Brad Wanamaker, Tremont Waters
· Wings (8): Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Romeo Langford, Semi Ojeleye, Jayson Tatum, Javonte Green, Kaiser Gates, Max Strus
· Bigs (7): Enes Kanter, Vincent Poirier, Daniel Theis, Grant Williams, Robert Williams, Tacko Fall, Yante Maten
The above seems to lead to Boston hosting a battle for the 15th standard spot on the roster. Green was given a $100,000 guarantee, which could give him a small lead on Fall, Gates and Maten out of the gate. The reason for this is that, by virtue of giving Green a greater than $50,000 guarantee, he’s not eligible to play for the Maine Red Claws in the NBAGL if he’s waived by the Celtics.
Maten has previous experience as a Two-Way player, as he spent the majority of the 2018-19 season as one of the Two-Way players for the Miami Heat. He was converted to a standard contract late in the season and then waived in late-July.
Gates played for the Windy City Bulls (Chicago’s NBAGL affiliate) last season as an Affiliate Player. Maine recently acquired his Returning Player rights from Windy City. This move indicates the Celtics plan to have Gates with the Red Claws as an Affiliate Player this season.
Fall, Strus and Waters are all NBA rookies. Waters was drafted in the second round by Boston at the 2019 NBA Draft, while Fall and Strus went undrafted. All three players played for the Celtics during the 2019 Las Vegas Summer League.
Green also played for the Celtics in Las Vegas. He’s been a professional since 2015 and has played overseas in Spain, Italy and Germany since going undrafted out of Radford.
Fall, Gates and Maten are all eligible to play for Maine, as all three are on Exhibit 10/Summer Contracts. These deals are fully non-guaranteed, and do not count against the salary cap/luxury tax. These deals automatically convert to standard, non-guaranteed contracts if the players are not waived in advance of the league-wide cut-down date of 10/21/19, when all NBA teams must be in compliance with a 15-man roster for the opening of the season. At that point, Boston would need to waive players and eat some portion of guaranteed money on the cap.
In addition, because Fall, Gates and Maten have signed Exhibit 10 contracts, they can be converted to Two-Way deals or standard deals at any point. These players are also eligible for a $50,000 bonus if they agree to play for the Red Claws in the NBAGL as Affiliate Players and stay for at least 60 days. An Affiliate Player is one who was waived by the NBA club, but reports to that team’s NBAGL affiliate following the waiver.
Projecting how camp might go, $100,000 is not that much to carry as dead money on the cap if Boston should waive Green. That should mean it will be an open, and spirited, competition in camp. The Celtics have also been unafraid to make moves with their Two-Way spots in the past. Just because Strus and Waters have those spots now, does not mean they will keep throughout camp. Waters is more likely to stick, as he was a draftee by Boston, but Danny Ainge will have an eye on both the short-term and long-term impacts of who he keeps on standard deals and Two-Way deals.
Fall is probably the most interesting player to monitor throughout camp, as he became a fan favorite during Summer League. His 7’6’’ frame and incredible length are intriguing for a team that currently lacks traditional rim protection. As it stands entering camp, Fall is behind Kanter, Theis, Poirier and Robert Williams in the center rotation. And Stevens has been willing to go small with Ojeleye at the 5 in the past, and likely will entertain similar tactics with Grant Williams as well. Having six players as roster locks that can play the center spot make it an uphill battle for Fall.
If Fall, Gates or Maten are waived, and go unclaimed, they would then likely join Maine as Affiliate Players. While this means the Celtics can continue to work with them with the Red Claws, they would be NBA free agents and could sign with any team.
At this point, Green seems to have a slight leg-up, due to the partial guarantee, but Fall is the one most fans are rooting for to snag the 15th spot. At the very least, Boston fans seem hopeful that Fall could be converted to a Two-Way deal, which would protect him from being poached by another NBA team. The journey to figure all that out will start in under two weeks when the Celtics open camp!