After five games of preseason action, the Celtics have waived Wenyen Gabriel, a forward/center who signed a non-guaranteed, Exhibit 9 deal with the team earlier this month, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
The 26-year-old has played five years in the NBA, which has included stints with the Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Brooklyn Nets, and Los Angeles Clippers. Gabriel played for the Lakers last season, where he averaged 5.5 points in 15.1 minutes per game, and shot 59.6% from the floor.
In the preseason, Gabriel saw limited minutes, and as two-way center Neemias Queta capitalized on his on-court opportunities, it became increasingly clear he was passing Gabriel in the big man pecking order.
On average, Queta was a +13.7 during his time on the court, while Gabriel was a -1.3. In 8.2 minutes per game, Gabriel averaged 2.3 points and 2.7 rebounds. In contrast, in 11.5 minutes per game, Queta averaged 9.7 points and 4.7 rebounds, and showed flashes of athleticism and defensive prowess that has caught the attention of both Joe Mazzulla and the broader Celtics world. Queta had a particularly strong showing last night in Charlotte.
Gabriel, who was born in Sudan and grew up in New Hampshire, had expressed enthusiasm about being back in Massachusetts, where he spent his senior year of high school. “I’m happy to be back home,” he previously told reporters.
Gabriel helped South Sudan secure its first-ever Olympic berth in the FIBA World Cup last summer, averaging 9.3 points and 8.8 rebounds for the tournament.
Joe Mazzulla talks about making "difficult" roster decisions— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) October 20, 2023
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After last night’s postseason finale against the Hornets, Joe Mazzulla spoke on the difficulty of having to waive a player that has been with the team since camp. Gabriel, Lamar Stevens, and D.J Steward were all on camp contracts. It is likely that Steward will be cut and join the team’s G League affiliate in Maine. The team will likely keep an open roster spot for flexibility heading into the season.
“It’s always difficult when you spend two to three weeks with anybody, and you get to know them, and watch them work hard, and they do everything they can, and then they’re not with you anymore,” Mazzulla said. “That process is difficult. But at the end of the day, those decisions have to be made, and we just have to move on.”