Enes Kanter

Celtics Notes: Fall, Smart, Kanter, Ojeleye

Tacko Fall has learned to enjoy his status as the latest cult hero in Boston, writes Jared Weiss of The Atheltic. Even though he has gotten into just six game for the Celtics and has played 24 total minutes, fans go crazy whenever the 7’5″ rookie approaches the scorer’s table. He also draws plenty of attention when he goes out in public with his teammates.

“They’ve been really good about it and sometimes I feel bad, ’cause I don’t want to take too much attention from the team,” Fall says. “And especially with coach Brad (Stevens), I don’t want them to see me like Tacko the rock star or Tacko the superstar. If you know me and the person I am, I don’t like to take too much attention away from them. But they actually give me attention, which is crazy.”

Fall’s size and potential make him an easy choice as a fan favorite, even though he went undrafted out of Central Florida last summer. He signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Celtics in July and earned a two-way deal in training camp. He has spent most of his first season with the organization’s G League affiliate in Maine, but still drew nearly a million All-Star votes from fans. Fall appreciates the attention, but said his immediate goal is to obtain a standard contract and eventually a spot in the rotation.

“I didn’t want that to happen, but it kinda gave me more motivation to someday earn that right,” he said of the voting. “You know, earn it on the court and then also have the fan votes where it’s like, ‘OK, I’ve really worked hard for this and all these people (are) cheering me on, wanting me to be there, so I’ve really earned it. It’s like, God put me in that position and I earned it.’”

There’s more Celtics news to pass along:

  • Marcus Smart has been fined $35K for “confronting and verbally abusing” officials after Tuesday’s loss to the Nets, the NBA announced (Twitter link). The amount of the fine “reflects his multiple prior violations of acceptable on-court decorum,” the release from the league states.
  • Enes Kanter may see a diminished role for the rest of the season now that the other Celtics centers are finally healthy, observes Alexandra Francisco of MassLive. Kanter has seen a combined 30 minutes over the past three games and didn’t play at all in Saturday’s loss to the Rockets.
  • The short-handed Celtics were able to pull out a win in Cleveland last night because of a career-high 22 points from Semi Ojeleye, writes Mariva Lewter of Heavy. The third-year forward continues to build a reputation by taking advantage of opportunities. “He’s a great worker, he’s a great teammate,” Stevens said. “When everything is not going your way, he’s a guy that you know is in everybody’s corner, and I think that that’s huge when you start talking about team. And you also know he can not play one night and be effective in his role the next.”

Trade Rumors: Covington, Randle, Henson, Celtics

The Clippers are among the teams pursuing Timberwolves forward Robert Covington, Sean Deveney of Heavy.com reports. A package of their first-round pick this year, forward Maurice Harkless, and a young player such as Jerome Robinson or Terance Mann could be enough to secure Covington, Deveney continues. Grizzlies forward Andre Iguodala, Suns center Aron Baynes and Magic guard D.J. Augustin are among the other potential targets for the Clippers, Deveney adds.

We have more trade chatter:

  • The Knicks have engaged in trade talks with the Hornets involving forward Julius Randle, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweets. Charlotte would be a surprising landing spot for Randle, who has a guaranteed $18.9MM salary for next season. However, the Hornets have three frontcourt players with large expiring contracts and will need reinforcements.
  • The Knicks had talks with the Cavaliers which included center John Henson but those discussions have died down, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Henson has an expiring $9.7MM contract.
  • Celtics GM Danny Ainge would like to strengthen the team’s bench but doesn’t see the center position as a major weakness, Jacob Camenker of NBC Sports Boston relays. The Celtics are reportedly one of the teams interested in acquiring Rockets center Clint Capela. Ainge indicated the roster “probably too many really young guys” but claimed he’s content with Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter, and Robert Williams manning the middle. “We’re not getting beat at the center position,” Ainge said. “We’re getting 17, 18 points per night. We’re getting double-figure rebounds. We’re just doing it as a team.”

Atlantic Notes: Anunoby, Kanter, Embiid, VanVleet

Much like they did with current All-Star Pascal Siakam and swingman Norman Powell, the Raptors are determined to turn erratic third-year forward OG Anunoby into a consistent, high-level contributor, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star.

“I think he needs more reps,” coach Nick Nurse reflected. “He needs some more chances to go out there and develop his game, and that’s got to be on me a little bit.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers center Joel Embiid hopes to resume his All-Star season on the floor next week, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. Embiid underwent surgery January 10 to repair a torn radial collateral ligament in his left ring finger.
  • Due to a right hip contusion, Celtics center Enes Kanter will not return to action until at least Tuesday against the Heat, Brad Stevens relayed to Boston’s team Twitter account (link). In just 18.5 minutes per night, Kanter has produced impressive averages of 9.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 60.2% field goal shooting.
  • Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet, an unrestricted free agent in 2020, could be a great fit for the Knicks, Greg Joyce of the New York Post suggests. VanVleet, the best point guard in a limited free agent class, should be in line for a major pay upgrade from the two-year, $18MM contract he signed in 2018.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2020: Atlantic Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Atlantic Division:

Furkan Korkmaz, Sixers, 22, SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $3.34MM deal in 2019
This was the player the Sixers envisioned when they made Korkmaz a draft-and-stash pick in 2016. Korkmaz has become a steady presence in Philadelphia’s rotation and is averaging 8.9 PPG while shooting 39.5% from deep. He’s made a significant impact in the last five games, averaging 16.6 PPG while lifting the Sixers to four victories. With Josh Richardson out a few weeks with a hamstring injury, Korkmaz figures to get even more playing time in the near future. Korkmaz’s $1.76MM contract for next season isn’t guaranteed but it’s a foregone conclusion Philadelphia will retain him.

Joe Harris, Nets, 28, SF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $16MM deal in 2018
Overall, Harris’ numbers are virtually identical to last season’s output, other than a dropoff from an outstanding 47.4% success rate on 3-point tries to a still very solid 40.8%. However, like his team, Harris has been in a slump. He’s scored 13 or fewer points in his last seven games and made seven more turnovers than 3-pointers during that stretch. Harris is too established to stay in this funk for very long. He will still receive offers well above his current salary of $7.67MM but stretches like this might temper some of the enthusiasm for his services when he heads into unrestricted free agency this summer.

Wayne Ellington, Knicks, 32, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $16MM deal in 2019
Ellington had a couple of good years in Miami and gave Detroit a lift during the second half of last season but he’s been a non-factor with the Knicks. Ellington has only appeared in 23 games, averaging 4.0 PPG in 14.3 MPG while making just 30.9% of his 3-point attempts. If the veteran guard isn’t knocking down his threes, there’s no reason to play him — he hasn’t seen any court time since January 14. Only $1MM of Ellington’s $8MM contract for next season is guaranteed. It’s safe to say he will not have to other $7MM forwarded to his bank account. In fact, he may struggle to find anything more than the veteran’s minimum on the market this summer.

Fred VanVleet, Raptors, 25, SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $18MM deal in 2018
The arrow continues to point upward for the fourth-year guard, whose production has steadily climbed as his playing time has expanded. VanVleet has missed some games this season due to injuries, most recently a hamstring strain. In the 34 games he’s started, he’s averaging 18.5 PPG, 6.8 APG and 2.0 SPG while shooting 40.2% on 3-point attempts. In the first three games since returning to action, VanVleet averaged 23.7 PPG and made 14 of 19 3-point attempts. He could be looking at offers in the $20-25MM per year range as an unrestricted free agent.

Enes Kanter, Celtics, 27, C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $9.77MM deal in 2019
Kanter was the third overall pick in the draft back in 2011, so it’s easy to overlook the fact he’s still just 27 years old. Kanter has always been a double-double machine when given extended minutes. He’s averaging 18.5 MPG, his lowest amount of court time since the 2012/13 season with Utah. Yet he’s posted six doubles-doubles since New Year’s Eve, including a game-changing 18-point, 11-rebound outing against the Lakers this week. Kanter holds a $5MM player option on his contract for next season. He might test the market again and see if he can get a better deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Celtics Notes: Memphis Pick, Brown, Poirier, Walker

The Grizzlies‘ first-rounder that the Celtics own is a volatile asset heading into this year’s trade deadline, Sean Deveney writes for Forbes. The pick is top-six protected and becomes unprotected in 2021 if it doesn’t convey this year. Memphis is currently eighth in the West, but only three-and-a-half games ahead of the 14th-place Pelicans.

“(The Celtics) have been active in terms of seeing what is out there,” a general manager told Deveney. “I don’t think they want to sit on their hands. I am not sure how much they can realistically get done, though, because the Memphis pick is such a wild card. They can’t do anything significant unless they move that pick.”

Deveney identifies the WizardsDavis Bertans and the Timberwolves‘ Robert Covington as possible trade targets. He states that Bertans is probably available for the Memphis pick, along with Enes Kanter and Semi Ojeleye. However, Bertans is entering free agency and Boston probably can’t afford to re-sign him with Jayson Tatum due for an extension. Covington is under contract for two more seasons and Deveney suggests the Celtics could get him for Kanter, Daniel Theis and the Bucks‘ 2020 first-rounder, allowing them to keep the Grizzlies’ pick.

There’s more out of Boston:

  • Jaylen Brown doesn’t believe Brandon Ingram was referring to him when he talked about being surprised that certain players received rookie scale extensions, relays Tom Westerholm of MassLive. “When we talked about the extension, of course, I’m human,” Ingram said in a recent interview with ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “When I look at other guys, I’m like, ‘This (expletive) got an extension? Oh my god. Man, we can lace up right now and play one-on-one to 15 and this (expletive) won’t score.’ That’s how I looked at it as a competitor.” Asked about the comments after last night’s game against the Pelicans, Brown, who received a four-year, $115MM extension, responded, “I don’t feel any type of way, because I don’t feel like they apply to me.”
  • Vincent Poirier could soon provide some depth at center, coach Brad Stevens tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Poirier is nearing a return after being sidelined since December 17 with a broken finger.
  • The Celtics snapped a three-game losing streak last night, but the recent downturn wasn’t alarming for Kemba Walker, who brings an outsider’s perspective after his years with the Hornets, writes John Karalis of MassLive. “I’ve lost so many more than three games in a row throughout the course of my career,” Walker said. “Plenty of times, so this is nothing to me personally. It’s just about getting back on track at this point.”

Celtics Notes: Smart, Brown, Tatum, Kanter

Celtics guard Marcus Smart is on the upswing after a brutal case of viral conjunctivitis caused an infection in both of his eyes, sidelining him for much of December, writes ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. Smart isn’t playing today in Toronto, but thinks he’s at “about 80 percent” and is focused on getting his conditioning back to its usual level. Mostly, he’s relieved that the worst of his eye issues appear to be behind him.

“I thought I was going to go blind for a while. I think it was the worst case of viral conjunctivitis that they’ve seen,” Smart said. “… I couldn’t see. I had outdoor sunglasses everywhere. Even in the dark I was wearing sunglasses. It was that bad. Just every morning I would wake up just having sticky discharge coming out of my eyes, sealing my eyes shut. It was really just gross.”

With Gordon Hayward back in their lineup today, the Celtics appear to be getting close to getting fully healthy. In the meantime, let’s round up a few more notes out of Boston:

  • Although the Celtics look capable of vying for a spot in the NBA Finals, finding the one last piece to cement their place as a contender will be difficult, according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, who outlines why the club may not be able to make a significant trade this winter. We touched on a similar topic last week.
  • Terry Rozier is impressed with how his former teammates Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum has looked this season, suggesting that the two young wings are “superstars in the making,” as Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald details. “I’m not just saying it. Them guys put the work in,” Rozier said. “They really care. They want to learn the game, and them boys can really play.”
  • Celtics big man Enes Kanter isn’t taking today’s game in Toronto for granted. Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston explains why Kanter’s safety may be at risk when he travels outside the United States.

Eastern Notes: Collins, Jackson, LeVert, Irving, Kanter

Hawks forward John Collins decided against appealing his 25-game NBA suspension, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

“I was going to take the first step, but after reconvening with my team and talking some things out, we just decided it was best to move forward,” Collins said. “But it was definitely in consideration.”

Collins, who returned to action without a minutes restriction on Monday after finishing out the suspension, admits the ban for testing positive for a growth hormone injured his reputation.

“I’ve seen some of those comments and they hurt me a little bit, saying ‘This guy’s a cheater,’” Collins said. “I would want to let them know I’m not a cheater and this is something that will never happen again, if I can control it.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Celtics center Enes Kanter will play at Toronto on Christmas, he wrote in a story for The Globe and Mail. Kanter has an ongoing dispute with the current regime in his native Turkey and the government has issued a warrant for his arrest. Kanter wrote in part, “I want to thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, U.S. and Canadian law enforcement, U.S. Senator Ed Markey, the Celtics, the NBA and my managers for working diligently to make my Christmas game against the Raptors possible and ensuring my safety there. And, on Christmas night, I will play in my first game as a Celtic outside the U.S. when I take the court against the Raptors.”
  • Nets guard Caris LeVert is close to returning, ESPN’s Malika Andrews tweets. LeVert participated in most aspects of the team’s practice on Monday and did contact work with the Nets’ coaches. LeVert has been out since mid-November with a thumb injury. Kyrie Irving, who is trying to work his way back from a shoulder injury, still hasn’t been cleared for contact and is unlikely to play Thursday against New York, Andrews adds in another tweet.
  • Pistons guard Reggie Jackson will soon get another evaluation on the back injury that has sidelined him since the first two games this season, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Jackson has been doing non-contact activities for several weeks, Ellis adds.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Kanter, Player Development

The Knicks are in the midst of another dreadful season but one Western Conference scout tells Ian Begley of SNY.tv that the team has more talent than its 4-16 record indicates. So why does the team have a worse record than it did at this point last year? “Some of the blame [for the Knicks’ struggles] has to be put on [David] Fizdale,” the scout said.

The Knicks have trailed by at least 20 points in seven of the team’s 16 losses and Fizdale’s future with the club is far from certain, with reports last month suggesting that the front office was laying the groundwork for his dismissal.

As of this writing, Fizdale remains the coach of the Knicks, so let’s take a look at more notes from New York:

  • Despite the struggles this season, Knicks players are still supporting Fizdale. “He can’t go out there and play for us. Obviously, everybody points at the head coach with that. But it’s on us to go out there and perform well,” Bobby Portis said (via Begley in that same piece).
  • Former Knick Enes Kanter recently said that he and owner James Dolan are “text buddies” and reiterated that Dolan gets too much criticism for the team’s struggles and lack of free-agent signings, as Begley relays in the same piece. “I got no problems with him. Some other people have problems with him, but I have no problem with him,” Kanter said. “And I will say this: it’s terrible they blame it on this guy every time. I feel like he has done nothing to do with it.” Kanter said in September that he believed a negative perception of ownership is a factor in free agents not considering the Knicks, but has suggested he doesn’t necessarily share that perception.
  • Fizdale will not be judged solely on the team’s win-loss record but also by the progress he makes with the team’s young talent. Marc Berman of the New York Post ranks the importance of each young player on the team in terms of player development goals.

Atlantic Notes: Walker, Embiid, Kanter

Celtics point guard Kemba Walker will return to the court tonight less than a week after he collided head-to-head with teammate Semi Ojeleye and had to be taken off the court in a stretcher.

“It was a scary moment for myself,” Walker said (via Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com). “When I was in the moment, it was pretty tough to be in, obviously. I know it was scary for everybody…It was tough, but thank God I’m OK.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (video link) hears that scouts around the league aren’t worried about Joel Embiid. Embiid has struggled this season (by his standards) with a new-look roster around him on the Sixers.
  • Enes Kanter says he is “disappointed that former Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving won’t be making a return to the court in Boston today, as Justin Leger of NBC Sports Boston relays. “We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, and now he’s hurt and not playing? I’m really disappointed. But there’s two games, of course, and he’s going to come back. And… we’re going to welcome him somehow,” Kanter said.
  • Former Celtics guard Tony Allen said he’s long been a fan of Marcus Smart‘s game and applauds Smart’s improvement from behind the arc, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald passes along. “I won’t say he’s my protégé, really, but he’s become that 3-and-D player everyone wants,” Allen said. “With what he does defensively, he’s also become a shooter. He’s really transitioned to the new game.”

Atlantic Notes: Kanter, Celtics, Jordan, Raptors

After signing with the Celtics in the offseason, Enes Kanter was the team’s starting center on opening night, but hasn’t suited up since then, having been on the shelf since the regular season opener due to a left knee contusion. Having missed seven games, Kanter has now been cleared to return, as Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston tweets.

While it’s not clear what role he’ll play in his first game back, Kanter should be active for the Celtics on Monday night vs. Dallas. Boston won all seven contests he missed and will look to keep up that streak now that the big man is reentering the rotation.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • With Tony Parker set to have his jersey retired in San Antonio, Mike Monroe of The Athletic revisits the 2001 draft, when the French point guard was nearly selected at No. 21 by the Celtics. As Monroe tells it, new Boston GM Chris Wallace was prepared to select Parker, but was overruled by C’s legend and team president Red Auerbach, who wanted Joseph Forte instead. Forte only ended up playing in eight games for the Celtics, while Parker – selected by the Spurs at No. 28 – became a six-time All-Star and future Hall-of-Famer.
  • In his Friday column for ESPN.com, Zach Lowe noted that DeAndre Jordan has gotten off to a poor start in the first season of a lucrative four-year contract with the Nets, failing to deter opponents from scoring at the rim. Brooklyn will need more from the veteran center going forward to justify its investment, Lowe argued. As Brian Lewis of The New York Post details, Jordan was one of the few bright spots during a blowout loss to Phoenix on Sunday, scoring 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting and grabbing 12 rebounds.
  • In the wake of the Raptors‘ impressive shorthanded win over the Lakers, Mark Medina of USA Today explores how Toronto has set itself up in both the short-term and long-term to stay competitive despite the loss of Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.