Justin Jackson

Celtics Notes: Udoka, Mazzulla, Pritchard, Jackson, White

The Celtics continue to hope their coaching situation resolves itself with Ime Udoka landing another job, but a rival general manager tells Steve Bullpett of Heavy that may not be likely. Although Boston is expected to keep Joe Mazzulla in place beyond this season, he’s still technically the interim coach. Udoka’s suspension for an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate will expire June 30, and the team may have to negotiate a settlement to keep both Udoka and Mazzulla happy.

The problem appeared to be solved when Udoka emerged as the frontrunner for the Nets’ job after they parted ways with Steve Nash in November. But Brooklyn officials changed their minds about hiring Udoka, which the GM believes may reflect the opinion around the league.

“There’s still a lot of question about all that went on with him, but even just the fact that he didn’t fight the suspension says something,” the GM said. “From a team standpoint, it’s hard to bring him in right now. You’ve got women on your staff that could have a problem with it, and there’s the public. … Just the social media climate would bring a lot of criticism.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Payton Pritchard has sat out 14 games this season due to coach’s decision, but he has been delivering when called on, observes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Pritchard turned in solid performances this week while replacing Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, and he might see regular minutes during Brown’s expected absence. There have been trade rumors regarding Pritchard, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension during the offseason, but he’s been trying to ignore them and focus on playing. “Obviously I hear it, I see it,” he said. “I know what it is. But that’s not something I can focus on. I’ll let my agent handle that and (team president) Brad (Stevens). I’ll focus on basketball.”
  • The decision to keep Justin Jackson on the roster past last weekend’s salary guarantee date was made to provide insurance in case of a long-term injury to Brown or Jayson Tatum, Brian Robb of MassLive states in a mailbag column. The Celtics don’t have many other options at the wing, Robb adds, so it was safer to guarantee Jackson’s contract than to fill the opening through 10-day deals.
  • Derrick White was forced to leave Saturday’s game at Charlotte after spraining his neck midway through the first quarter, per Souichi Terada of MassLive.

Robert Williams Hopes To Return By Christmas

Celtics center Robert Williams expects to be back on the court by Christmas Day, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said tonight on the network’s pre-game show (video link), relaying a conversation with Williams’ agent.

Williams is “progressing well” with his rehab after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee in September, Woj adds, noting that it was the second knee operation for Williams this year. Williams was originally projected to miss eight to 12 weeks, and the Celtics have been cautious about his return. He began participating in three-on-three drills a few days ago.

Williams became a full-time starter last season and emerged as a defensive anchor during Boston’s run to the NBA Finals. The Celtics are off to a 14-4 start without him, but Wojnarowski believes they’ll be in the market for another center to provide insurance against further injuries.

“I think for Boston now as you start to look out to the February trade deadline, I think another big man, another center who could play minutes in the case of Rob Williams missing time or a 36-year-old Al Horford being out,” Wojnarowski said. “They are trying to close every hole they can to be a championship team. We can watch Boston as they get closer to the trade deadline, seeing if there are any frontcourt help off their bench they could acquire.”

The Celtics were already rumored to have interest in Spurs center Jakob Poeltl, notes Brian Robb of MassLive. He also points out that Noah Vonleh and Justin Jackson both have contracts that won’t be guaranteed until early January, making it easy to waive them if an open roster spot is needed. Boston also has two trade exceptions that could be used to acquire players earning between $5-7MM without sending out salary in return.

Lakers’ Ryan, Celtics’ Jackson, Knicks’ Arcidiacono Earn Roster Spots

Lakers sharpshooter Matt Ryan will survive today’s cuts and is on track to be part of the team’s opening night roster next week, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Ryan is one of a handful of players on non-guaranteed training camp contracts confirmed to be making their teams’ respective rosters. Celtics forward Justin Jackson will survive the cut in Boston, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link), while Knicks guard Ryan Arcidiacono will do the same in New York, tweets Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Ryan perhaps solidified his spot on the Lakers’ regular season roster with his performance in last Sunday’s preseason game, when he poured in hit six three-pointers and poured in 20 points. He’s one of three L.A. players on non-guaranteed contracts who is seemingly on track to make the regular season roster, along with Austin Reaves and Wenyen Gabriel.

It’s a similar situation in Boston, where Jackson appears poised to join Noah Vonleh and Luke Kornet as Celtics whose deals are mostly or fully non-guaranteed. Jackson seemingly beat out Jake Layman for the 15th spot on the roster.

As for Arcidiacono, this will be the second straight season he has began on a non-guaranteed contract with New York. The Knicks have 13 players on fully guaranteed deals, so they’ll be able to keep one more player in addition to Arcidiacono, assuming they carry a full 15-man roster. Svi Mykhailiuk looks like the favorite to be that player.

Celtics Rumors: G. Williams, Final Roster Spots, Coaching Staff

The Celtics and forward Grant Williams have had discussions about a rookie scale extension, but no deal appears imminent, according to reports from Jared Weiss of The Athletic and Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

A league source tells Himmelsbach that, as of Thursday afternoon, the two sides were at something of a stalemate, with Williams believed to be seeking approximately $14-16MM annually over four years, while Boston’s offers have fallen short of that.

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who wrote earlier this week that there doesn’t appear to be an extension coming for Williams, said on Wednesday that he’s heard the forward’s camp has conveyed to the Celtics that the team’s most recent offer won’t be accepted before Monday’s deadline (hat tip to HoopsHype). However, that doesn’t mean Boston won’t increase its offer in the coming days.

Whether or not Williams signs an extension on or before Monday, he’ll be viewed as an important part of the future for the Celtics, who would be able to make him a restricted free agent next summer, Himmelsbach writes.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • The Celtics plan to enter the season carrying a full roster of 15 players, a league source tells Himmelsbach. Danilo Gallinari‘s ACL injury is a factor in that decision — with Gallinari sidelined, holding open a roster spot would essentially put Boston down two players.
  • The Celtics have 11 players on guaranteed contracts, with Al Horford and Luke Kornet (both on partial guarantees) also expected to make the roster. That leaves two openings, and Noah Vonleh looks like a safe bet to grab one of them, according to Himmelsbach, who says Jake Layman, Justin Jackson, and Mfiondu Kabengele are probably vying for the last spot. Since Kabengele is already on a two-way contract, Boston may prefer to use that 15th spot on Layman or Jackson, neither of whom are eligible for a two-way deal.
  • The Celtics had been exploring the market in search of an assistant coach to add to Joe Mazzulla‘s staff following his promotion to the interim head coaching job. However, they’ve ultimately decided they’re happy with their current group and intend to move forward without making a hire, writes Himmelsbach.
  • In an in-depth story for NBC Sports Boston, Chris Forsberg takes a look at why Celtics players believe Malcolm Brogdon is capable of being the piece that pushes them over the top. “I’ve played against him for a couple years now so I know what he brings,” Jayson Tatum said of his new teammate. “I’m extremely happy that we have him.”

Celtics Notes: Griffin, J. Jackson, Hauser, Kabengele

Blake Griffin had to shake off some rust in his debut with the Celtics Friday night, but he showed several ways that he can help the team, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. After some early turnovers and missed shots, Griffin sparked a comeback that erased a 15-point deficit in a win over the Hornets. He finished with seven points and nine rebounds in 16 minutes and displayed an unselfishness that could make him an important part of Boston’s offense.

Griffin, 33, saw his role with the Nets diminish as last season wore on, and he spent nearly the entire offseason as a free agent before signing with the Celtics on Monday. He appeared to take a subtle swipe at his former team after the game while talking about coming to Boston, Robb adds.

“I think the intensity and maturity level of this group is off the charts,” Griffin said. “Every day when we get to work it’s intense. It’s not that we’re going forever but these guys are locked in and no one has to tell us to be locked in. It’s refreshing.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Justin Jackson‘s bid to earn a roster spot got off to a rocky start, but a second-half scoring explosion Friday improved his chances, Robb adds in a separate story. Jackson poured in 16 points in 23 minutes and hit four of eight shots from three-point range. Robb expects the Celtics to start the season with a full 15-man roster because of injuries to Robert Williams and Danilo Gallinari, and he sees Jake Layman and Brodric Thomas as Jackson’s main competition for the final spot.
  • Sam Hauser has been a pleasant surprise since the start of training camp, Robb states in a mailbag column. The second-year forward has emerged as a reliable long-distance shooter who can contribute on defense as well. Robb believes Hauser might be able to provide what the Celtics were hoping for when they signed Gallinari.
  • Mfiondu Kabengele has been getting a lot of personalized instruction from Jaylen Brown since joining the Celtics on a two-way contract, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Kabengele played briefly for the Clippers and Cavaliers after being selected in the first round of the 2019 draft, and he’s determined to learn as much as possible to help him stay in the league. “I’m not the same person I was in my rookie year, or even last year when I was in the G League,” he said. “A lot of times, I would come into games and practices and think, ‘All right, I have a skill set.’ It was a little bit of arrogance I had. It wasn’t laziness, but I had a good sense of what I needed, then every time I fail and go through these things, I’m like, ‘Why are things not working?’ Then I did some self-reflection.”

Atlantic Notes: Layman, J. Jackson, Celtics, Raptors, Sixers

When they signed with the Celtics, Jake Layman and Justin Jackson both received one-year, minimum-salary contracts that are non-guaranteed. However, the terms of those agreements are slightly different — Layman got an Exhibit 10 clause in his contract, while Jackson’s deal is an Exhibit 9, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Both Layman and Jackson are ineligible to have their contracts converted into two-way deals because they have too many years of NBA service under their belts. But Layman’s Exhibit 10 contract makes him eligible to receive a $50K bonus if he’s waived before the season and then spends at least 60 days with the Maine Celtics, Boston’s G League team.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

Celtics Officially Sign Jake Layman, Justin Jackson, Denzel Valentine

The Celtics have officially completed three previously reported deals with veteran free agents, signing forward Jake Layman, swingman Justin Jackson, and guard Denzel Valentine to their training camp roster, according to RealGM’s NBA transaction log.

A report in August indicated that Valentine would be signing an Exhibit 10 contract with Boston. The exact terms of the team’s agreements with Layman and Jackson, which were reported more recently, aren’t known, but those are presumably non-guaranteed camp deals as well.

All three veterans are expected to take part in a preseason competition for one of the Celtics’ back-end roster spots. The club currently has 10 players with guaranteed standard contracts, plus Al Horford with a significant partial guarantee. That leaves three – or possibly four – spots available on the regular season roster for a group of players with non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed salaries.

Besides Layman, Jackson, and Valentine, those camp invitees vying for roster spots includes Noah Vonleh, Luke Kornet, and Bruno Caboclo. Two-way players Mfiondu Kabengele and JD Davison could also be in the mix for promotions to standard contracts. Boston has one more open spot on its 20-man offseason roster, with restricted free agent Brodric Thomas among the top candidates to fill it.

A second-round pick in 2016, Layman has appeared in 243 regular season games across six NBA seasons in Portland and Minnesota. In total, the former Maryland forward – who is a Massachusetts native – has averaged 4.8 PPG and 1.7 RPG on .460/.300/.719 shooting in 12.8 minutes per contest over the course of his NBA career.

Jackson, the No. 15 overall pick in the 2017 draft, signed two 10-day contracts with the Suns last season and one with the Celtics, appearing in seven total games (just one with Boston). In Las Vegas this July, he averaged 15.0 PPG in four appearances (29.0 MPG) for Boston’s Summer League squad.

The 14th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Valentine spent the first five years of his NBA career in Chicago before signing last offseason with the Cavaliers. He played a minor role in 22 games for Cleveland, then was dealt in January to the Knicks, who waived him. Following a 10-day contract with the Jazz, Valentine played in the G League for the rest of the 2021/22 season. Considered a strong three-point shooter, Valentine has made 36.0% of his attempts from beyond the arc in 256 NBA appearances (18.8 MPG).

Celtics Expected To Sign Jake Layman, Justin Jackson

The Celtics intend to sign free agent forward Jake Layman to a training camp contract, a source tells Bobby Manning of CLNS Media. The report has since been confirmed by Souichi Terada and Brian Robb of MassLive.com.

A second-round pick in 2017, Layman has appeared in 243 regular season games across six NBA seasons in Portland and Minnesota. Although he was a regular rotation player for the Timberwolves in 2019/20 after signing a three-year contract with the team, Layman was limited to 23 appearances that season due to a toe injury and didn’t have a consistent role during the following two seasons.

In total, the former Maryland forward – who is a Massachusetts native – has averaged 4.8 PPG and 1.7 RPG on .460/.300/.719 shooting in 12.8 minutes per contest over the course of his NBA career.

Within his report on Layman, Manning says the same source confirmed that Justin Jackson will be joining the Celtics for training camp as well. Jackson, a forward who was drafted with the No. 15 overall pick in 2017, had a strong Summer League run with Boston in July and has long been rumored as a possible camp invitee.

Jackson signed two 10-day contracts with the Suns last season and one with the Celtics, appearing in seven total games (just one with Boston). In Las Vegas this summer, he averaged 15.0 PPG in four appearances (29.0 MPG) for Boston’s Summer League squad.

Assuming the Celtics make it official with both Layman and Jackson, the two veterans join the competition for one of the team’s open regular season roster spots. Boston has 10 players with guaranteed contracts, plus Al Horford with a significant partial guarantee. That leaves three – or possibly four – spots available for a group of players with non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed salaries.

Luke Kornet, Noah Vonleh, and Bruno Caboclo have already been added to the Celtics’ training camp roster. Layman, Jackson, and Denzel Valentine are expected to join them. If all three officially sign, the club will have 19 total players under contract, including JD Davison and Mfiondu Kabengele on two-way deals.

Celtics Notes: R. Williams, Roster Spots, Ryan

There aren’t any long-term concerns about the knee injury that forced Celtics center Robert Williams to undergo late-season meniscus surgery, sources close to the team tell Brian Robb of MassLive. Williams experienced soreness and swelling in his left knee throughout the postseason, but was able to take part in 17 of Boston’s 24 playoff games.

No follow-up surgery was needed during the offseason, and Williams is expected to be 100% when training camp opens in about five weeks. Robb adds that Williams has been posting some of his workouts on Instagram, and they include a lot of strength training.

Robb doesn’t expect Williams’ role to change much in the upcoming season, but the coaching staff would like to see him become more aggressive with finishing around the rim on the theory that opposing defenses will be stretched further by the team’s improved outside shooting.

There’s more from Boston:

  • The Celtics will likely keep one roster spot open at the start of the season due to luxury tax considerations, which sets up an intense battle heading into camp, Robb adds in the same piece. Robb sees Noah Vonleh and Justin Jackson as the most likely candidates to make the final roster, but he expects Bruno Caboclo, Brodric Thomas and possibly other players to make it a difficult decision.
  • Matt Ryan, who ended last season on a two-way contract, won’t be with the Celtics in training camp, Robb writes in a separate story. A source tells Robb that a “roster crunch” doesn’t leave any room for Ryan. The 25-year-old small forward signed the deal at the end of February and appeared in one NBA game.
  • Heat guard Duncan Robinson and Bucks guard Pat Connaughton are both critical of the Celtics’ set-up for visiting teams. Appearing on Robinson’s “Long Shots” podcast (hat tip to Thomas Darro of Heavy), Connaughton said the TD Garden is “the worst visiting team locker room in the NBA.”

Celtics’ Final Roster Spots Expected To Be Up For Grabs In Camp

The Celtics are currently carrying 12 players on standard contracts who are considered virtual locks to make their 15-man regular season roster and are preparing to hold an open competition for the final spots, according to Jay King of The Athletic.

Former first-round picks Noah Vonleh and Bruno Caboclo recently agreed to training camp contracts that will give them an opportunity to fight for roster spots this fall. According to King, two-way restricted free agent Brodric Thomas and former Celtics forward Justin Jackson are also considered “strong candidates” to join the competition for those roster openings.

Assuming Vonleh and Caboclo officially completed their reported deals and Thomas and Jackson sign contracts of their own, the Celtics would still have two spots available on their 20-man offseason roster, so they could further expand the competition.

Free agent swingman Matt Ryan, who is fully recovered from a summer ankle injury, appears less likely to return to Boston, despite finishing last season on a two-way deal with the team and playing for the Celtics’ Summer League squad in Las Vegas, says King.

Additionally, while it’s possible the Celtics will add at least one more frontcourt player to vie for a roster spot, the team isn’t expected to go after a veteran like DeMarcus Cousins or Dwight Howard, according to King, who says the front office seems to prefer younger players who have room to improve and are willing to accept modest roles. Currently, Luke Kornet projects to be a rotation player in the frontcourt, with two-way big man Mfiondu Kabengele providing depth.

The Celtics’ projected tax bill will be worth keeping in mind as the club auditions players for its open roster spots. If ownership is concerned about the rising cost of the roster, Boston could enter the season with just 14 players on standard contracts instead of 15, meaning only two spots would be up for grabs this fall instead of three.

As King observes, current two-way player JD Davison could also emerge as a candidate for a promotion if he looks good in the preseason, since rookie minimum contracts for a team’s second-round draftees cost less for tax purposes than identical contracts signed by undrafted free agents.