Noah Vonleh

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.

Celtics Notes: Mazzulla, Brogdon, Vonleh, Pritchard

The circumstances that made Joe Mazzulla a head coach were unusual, but he’s showing that he’s up to the challenge, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. Friday’s win at Miami gave the Celtics a 2-0 start to their regular season for the first time since Doc Rivers did it in 2009/10.

Mazzulla became the team’s interim leader after Ime Udoka was suspended for the season following an affair with a staff member. Mazzulla has adapted quickly to the job and has Boston looking like title contenders again, even after losing Robert Williams and Danilo Gallinari with injuries.

“The humility of our team is super important,” Mazzulla said. “We have eight guys that can start games and finish games. We have the ability to get different looks, and it makes us very, very good. Credit to our guys, they want to win. They understand that, and they’re willing to do what it takes. We’re grateful for that.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • The team’s commitment to defense has impressed Malcolm Brogdon, who was acquired from the Pacers in an offseason trade. “I haven’t played on a team like this where one through five, everybody that’s on the floor takes pride in the defensive end. It’s a championship characteristic for sure,” Brogdon said after Friday’s game (video link).
  • Noah Vonleh had to battle for a roster spot, but he’s already making his first start tonight, notes A. Sherrod Blakely of Full Court Press. Al Horford is sitting out the second game of a back-to-back due to load management, so the Celtics turned to Vonleh, who’s enjoying the opportunity with his hometown team. “I just want to go out there, continue to help the team, bring energy,” Vonleh said, “… just keep doing the things that help get me on the floor.”
  • Payton Pritchard wasn’t used in the first two games, but he remains a valuable part of the roster considering Brogdon’s history of injuries and Marcus Smart‘s reckless style, Steve Bulpett of Heavy states in a mailbag column. Pritchard is still on his rookie contract and he has been effective off the bench during his two seasons in Boston, averaging 6.9 points per game and shooting 41.2% from three-point range, so Bulpett doesn’t expect the Celtics to use him as a trade chip.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Vonleh, Simmons, Irving

The Sixers lost to the Celtics in their opener but they see a long playoff run in their future, Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes. They believe they have more talent around superstar Joel Embiid than ever before, due to the front office’s moves this offseason.

“There’s no weak links around the horn,” said P.J. Tucker, the Sixers’ top free agent acquisition. “You want to [pick on] somebody? Go ahead. We got everybody.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Due to Robert Williams‘ knee issues, Noah Vonleh has become a key member of the Celtics‘ frontcourt for the time being. As Jay King of The Athletic notes, Vonleh is just six months removed from a stint in China. The opportunity to play in the NBA again has made Vonleh more appreciative of his current status. “It made me even hungrier,” he said. “I feel like I’ve got a pretty good work ethic, but being out of there I was just wondering why and questioning certain things. But it just made me more motivated and made me work a lot harder.” Vonleh has a one-year, non-guaranteed veteran’s minimum contract with Boston.
  • The stat line for Ben Simmons in his return to action after a season off was unimpressive. He posted four points, five rebounds and five assists before fouling out in 23 minutes. Nets head coach Steve Nash attributes that performance to the long layoff, Nick Friedell of ESPN tweets. “I just think he’s rusty. The guy hasn’t played in over a year,” Nash said. “He’s still getting used to referees, defense, offense. This is a process for Ben … He’s shown obviously glimpses of the player we know he is and can be, but it’s not easy. We’re here to support him.”
  • Kevin Durant‘s trade request during the summer turned out to be a test and Kyrie Irving believes the Nets are better for it, he told Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. “When Kev made that request, I feel like we got better,” Irving said. “Afterwards. Not initially, but now where we are now, I feel like we can honestly say we got better, with the principles that are needed for success. Without going through some test in the summertime or during the season, we wouldn’t be able to be as close and bonded as we are now.”

Noah Vonleh Makes Celtics’ Roster; Jake Layman Waived

Big man Noah Vonleh has made the Celtics‘ regular season roster, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), Vonleh’s contract will be non-guaranteed until January, so he’ll be paid on per-day basis until then.

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe reported on Thursday that Vonleh appeared to be a safe bet for the 14th spot on the standard roster after a strong showing during preseason.

The ninth overall pick of the 2014 draft, Vonleh is a well-traveled veteran, having previously played for seven NBA teams in seven seasons from 2014-2021. He spent last season in China.

The Celtics have waived veteran forward Jake Layman and guard Eric Demers, sources tell Keith Smith of CelticsBlog and Spotrac (Twitter links) Boston has also signed wing Marial Shayok, according to Smith, though he will almost certainly be waived soon.

It’s unclear if forward Justin Jackson has made Boston’s roster, but we should find out shortly. The veteran has been vying for the 15th roster spot along with Layman and possibly Mfiondu Kabengele, though Kabengele is already on a two-way contract.

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.

Layman was signed to an Exhibit 10 deal, so if he clears waivers, he could receive a bonus worth up to $50K if he spends at least 60 days with the Maine Celtics, Boston’s G League affiliate. Demers is another Massachusetts native who played for Maine least season and could be in line for the same bonus.

Shayok was the 54th overall pick of the 2019 draft by the Sixers, making four appearances with the club on a two-way deal. He spent most of his rookie season with the Delaware Blue Coats, Philadelphia’s G League affiliate. Shayok has played for Turkish clubs the past two seasons.

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: Anthony, Free Agents, Vonleh, Madar

The Celtics aren’t expected to sign free agent Carmelo Anthony as a replacement for the injured Danilo Gallinari, Brian Robb of MassLive writes in a mailbag column. The possibility of Anthony heading to Boston has been rumored over the past week, but multiple league sources tell Robb that Anthony isn’t considered a priority for the team.

The Celtics’ roster isn’t fully set heading into training camp, and a free agent or two could eventually be added. However, Robb hears that Boston wants to give players who are already under contract the first chance to replace Gallinari, including Sam Hauser and some big men who are hoping to make the team.

He suggests that Anthony may become an option later in the season if he’s still available and the Celtics need to add scoring off their bench. Robb also dismisses the prospect of veterans such as Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge being brought into camp.

Anthony remains unsigned roughly two weeks before camps open, even though he was fairly productive for the Lakers last season. The 38-year-old forward averaged 13.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 69 games while shooting 44.1% from the field and 37.5% from three-point range.

There’s more from Boston:

  • Noah Vonleh could be one of the options to replace Gallinari, but he’ll have to show that his defense has improved to earn a roster spot, Robb adds in the same piece. Vonleh agreed to a one-year training camp contract in August after playing overseas last season. Robb states that Vonleh is a below-average shot blocker and concerns about his defense are the main reason he played for seven teams in seven years.
  • Draft-and-stash player Yam Madar has been impressive for Israel during the EuroBasket tournament, Robb notes in a separate story. The 21-year-old point guard was a second-round pick in the 2020 draft and played for KK Partizan last season. He passed on Summer League to concentrate on his commitment to the Israeli team. Robb calls Madar’s future with the Celtics “murky” considering they drafted JD Davison this year.
  • As the rebuilding Jazz continue to shake up their roster, a deal with the Celtics could become an option, Robb adds in another piece. He examines the potential fit in Boston for several Utah players.

Contract Details: M. Morris, Vonleh, M. Hill, Blazers

Markieff Morris‘ one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Nets is non-guaranteed for now, but the veteran forward will receive a partial guarantee worth $500K if he isn’t waived on or before the first day of the regular season, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Morris’ partial guarantee would increase to $1MM if he hasn’t been cut by December 10. He would lock in his full $2,905,581 minimum salary (only $1,836,090 counts against the Nets’ cap) after the league-wide guarantee date in January, assuming he remains under contract.

Here are a few more details on recently signed contracts from around the NBA:

  • Noah Vonleh‘s one-year, minimum-salary deal with the Celtics, which is now official, includes an Exhibit 9 clause, but not an Exhibit 10. Teams generally include Exhibit 10 clauses in order to either convert a contract to a two-way deal or because they expect the player to suit up for their G League affiliate. Vonleh isn’t eligible for a two-way deal and it appears there are no plans to have him join the Maine Celtics if he doesn’t make Boston’s regular season roster.
  • Malcolm Hill accepted his two-way qualifying offer from the Bulls, Hoops Rumors has confirmed, so his two-way deal only covers one year — he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency in 2023.
  • As expected, the four camp invitees signed by the Trail BlazersDevontae Cacok, Olivier Sarr, Jared Rhoden, and Isaiah Miller – all received Exhibit 10 contracts. Portland doesn’t have a G League affiliate, so those players won’t receive Exhibit 10 bonuses, but their contracts could be converted into 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.”

Atlantic Notes: Grimes, Vonleh, Nurse, Maxey, Rivers

In an effort to upgrade his skills on the ball and as a play-maker, second-year Knicks guard Quentin Grimes trained with four-time NBA All-Star and current University of Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway for a second consecutive offseason, per Zach Braziller of the New York Post (subscription required).

“He’s kind of like a big uncle to me,” Grimes said of Hardaway. “Just took me under his wing and helped me play the point guard position a lot better, because that’s what I was in high school… Last year, they didn’t necessarily need me to do that — got to come in, play extremely hard on defense, knock down shots. I feel like next year my role will be expanded a little bit more. … I’m a scorer, really. I love getting to the mid-range, getting all the way to the rim, getting fouled. I like having an all-around game.”

The 6’5″ shooting guard out of Houston was selected with the No. 25 pick in the 2021 draft. A right kneecap injury and a bout with COVID-19 limited his on-court availability to just 46 contests. In 17.1 MPG, he averaging 6.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.0 APG and 0.7 SPG. As Braziller writes, Grimes shone bright during Summer League in Las Vegas last month, averaging 21.4 PPG on 41% field goal shooting, plus 4.2 RPG and 4.0 APG.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic explores how 2014 lottery pick Noah Vonleh could help the Celtics if he makes the team’s 15-man regular season roster following his training camp audition. Weiss thinks Boston could benefit from Vonleh’s abilities as a screener with some defensive versatility as a post presence. In 339 games played for seven teams, the 26-year-old holds averages of 4.9 PPG and 5.1 RPG. He spent last year with the Shanghai Sharks of the CBA. In terms of NBA action, Vonleh most recently suited up for the Nets during the 2020/21 season.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is preparing to juggle the challenge of doling out time for three exciting bench players who are still in early phases of their NBA development, per Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. When it comes allocating rotation minutes for Malachi Flynn, Dalano Banton and Justin Champagnie, Nurse spoke candidly about his approach. “I can envision sitting in front of [media members] a lot here coming up in these press conferences, pre- and post-game, asking me about why he played and why he didn’t,” Nurse said. “I think there will be some serious finessing about it, but it’s turning in my head a little bit and I can see us using a lot of them different ways.”
  • During an appearance on the Vince Carter Show podcast, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers heaped praise on breakout shooting guard Tyrese Maxey (h/t to Adam Herman of NBC Sports Philadelphia for the transcription). “He’s the most impressive young player I’ve ever had, in 21 years of coaching,” Rivers said. “His work ethic, Vince, is beyond belief.” As Herman notes, Rivers has coached All-Stars like Blake Griffin, Al Jefferson, Ben Wallace, and Rajon Rondo in similarly early phases of their NBA careers. Maxey enjoyed an excellent second season in 2021/22. His 17.5 PPG, 4.3 APG, and 3.2 RPG are all almost double his rookie season output.

Celtics Agree To Deal With Noah Vonleh

Free agent forward Noah Vonleh has agreed to a one-year deal with the Celtics, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

It’s apparently a training camp deal, as Wojnarowski adds that Vonleh will go to camp with the hopes of making the roster.

The 2014 lottery pick has bounced around the league. Vonleh began his career with Charlotte, then moved on to Portland, Chicago, New York, Minnesota and Denver. In his most recent NBA season, he saw action in four games with the Nets in 2020/21.

He has averaged 4.9 PPG and 5.1 RPG in 16.8 MPG, spanning 339 career games.

Vonleh played in China with the Shanghai Sharks during the 2021/22 season. The 26-year-old averaged 14.3 PPG and 9.1 RPG with Shanghai. The Guangdong Southern Tigers were reportedly interested in signing him, but he’ll take his chances first with Boston.