Semi Ojeleye

Bucks Sign Semi Ojeleye To One-Year Contract

AUGUST 6: The Bucks have officially signed Ojeleye, the team announced on Friday (via Twitter).

AUGUST 2: The 2021 NBA champion Bucks will be adding forward Semi Ojeleye to shore up their frontcourt depth, agent Sean Kennedy informs Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter).

Eric Nehm of The Athletic reports (Twitter link) that Ojeleye is set to join the Bucks on a one-year, minimum-salary contract.

Selected with the No. 37 pick in the 2017 NBA draft out of SMU by the Celtics, the 6’6″ forward spent his first four NBA seasons in Boston. Though not much of a scorer (his career-best average thus far is 4.6 PPG in 2020/21), Ojeleye nevertheless found his way into the rotation for the Celtics’ various playoff-bound teams over the years, including two Eastern Conference Finals teams in 2018 and 2020.

A versatile defender, Ojeleye could fill the absence left by veteran tweener forward P.J. Tucker, who is expected to depart for the Heat after agreeing to a new two-year,  $15MM deal.

In 2020/21, Ojeleye averaged the aforementioned 4.6 PPG, to go along with 2.6 RPG, in 17.0 minutes per contest. He played in 56 games, starting 15. The 26-year-old Ojeleye proved to be a reliable three-point shooter last year, albeit on a modest volume, connecting on 36.7% of his 2.8 looks from long range.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Celtics Rumors: Gordon, Nesmith, Smart, Langford, More

The Celtics and Nuggets continue to lead the Aaron Gordon sweepstakes, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, who reports that the Magic forward would welcome the opportunity to play for either team, or for the Trail Blazers.

While one Wednesday report suggested that Denver had taken the lead as the frontrunner to land Gordon, the Celtics continue to pursue the veteran forward, with John Collins and Harrison Barnes looking to be increasingly less likely targets, Weiss writes.

Weiss suggests that the Timberwolves appear to be falling back in the race to land Gordon, but all indications are that the Magic will continue talks right up until the deadline.

According to Weiss, the Celtics’ desire package for Gordon would be Aaron Nesmith and a first-round pick, giving Orlando the opportunity to create a sizeable traded player exception. However, the team will likely need to up that offer, either by including another first-rounder or by expanding the trade to include Marcus Smart and Evan Fournier.

Here’s more from Weiss on the Celtics:

  • While Romeo Langford was mentioned on Wednesday along with Nesmith as a candidate to be an outgoing piece in a Gordon trade, Weiss says the former Hoosiers guard doesn’t have much value due to his injury history and the fact that he was already a “polarizing” prospect entering the 2019 draft. As such, it doesn’t make much sense for the Celtics to sell low on him. Nesmith has more trade value, as Weiss notes.
  • Grant Williams and Semi Ojeleye haven’t been included in any trade packages that have “advanced to a serious stage,” sources tell Weiss.
  • One league source speculated to Weiss that there’s a chance the Celtics could do something more complex involving Gordon, like sending Smart to Orlando and trading draft capital to New Orleans for Lonzo Ball. However, that sounds like a longer shot.
  • Tristan Thompson has been frequently mentioned as a trade candidate, and there’s been some frustration that his on-court impact has been modest, per Weiss. However, Thompson is close with Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker, and even if there’s been some frustration with his production, it hasn’t become “animosity” by any means.

Eastern Notes: Oladipo, Celtics, Heat, Beal, Cavs

Victor Oladipo turned down a contract extension offer from the Pacers that started at over $25MM, league sources tell former NBA executive Ryan McDonough of (Twitter link). NBA rules would have allowed Indiana to go up to a starting salary of $25.2MM on an extension for Oladipo, and it sounds like the team was willing to go that high, based on McDonough’s report.

With Oladipo seeking a more lucrative contract in free agency, where he’ll be eligible for a starting salary worth up to $33.7MM, the Pacers realized they would likely lose him during the summer of 2021, McDonough explains. That’s why Indiana was willing to move him in a deal for Caris LeVert this week. That trade between the Rockets and Pacers – which was separated from the rest of the James Harden blockbuster – isn’t yet official, but should be soon.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • After dealing with a roster shortage for much of the week, the Celtics will have some reinforcements for Friday night’s contest vs. Orlando, their first game since last Friday. Jaylen Brown, Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye, and Javonte Green are all out of the NBA’s health and safety protocols and are available tonight, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
  • With Harden off the market, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald revisits the Heat‘s potential trade options if they want to make a splash before the March 25 deadline. As Jackson has mentioned multiple times in the past, Miami would be very interested in Bradley Beal if the Wizards were to make him available.
  • The Cavaliers will carry approximately $309K in dead money for Thon Maker after waiving his non-guaranteed contract to accommodate their Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince acquisitions, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Maker was paid about $11.9K per day for 26 days of service.

NBA Postpones Tuesday’s Celtics/Bulls Game

The NBA has postponed Tuesday’s game between the Celtics and Bulls due to the health and safety protocols, the league announced today. A source tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) that Boston is short on the minimum number of players.

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Grant Williams, Tristan Thompson, Robert Williams, Javonte Green, and Semi Ojeleye are all out due to the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, while Kemba Walker and Romeo Langford are sidelined with injuries.

It’s the second postponement announced today – along with Monday’s Mavericks/Pelicans contest – and the NBA’s third in the last two days. The Celtics’ game against the Heat on Sunday was also postponed.

Despite a growing number of teams and games being impacted by the COVID-19 protocols, NBA spokesman Mike Bass told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN on Sunday that there are no plans to pause the season. Bass said the league had anticipated postponements and “planned the schedule accordingly.”

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently conveyed a similar sentiment to a group of team owners, executives, coaches, and NBPA leaders. Silver suggested that January would likely be the worst month for the league and the virus, but expressed optimism about things improving in February and beyond, especially once vaccinations are more widespread.

“They tell us it’ll be better later in the season, but I just hope this doesn’t break the league in the next few weeks,” one general manager told Wojnarowski.

In today’s press release, the NBA said that it will be meeting today with the NBPA to discuss the possibility of modifying the league’s health and safety protocols. The NBA also has a conference call lined up today with the league’s general managers to discuss these issues, sources tell Woj (Twitter link).

Celtics To Guarantee 2020/21 Salaries For Theis, Ojeleye

The 2020/21 salaries for Daniel Theis and Semi Ojeleye will become guaranteed if they’re not waived today, and the Celtics intend to hang onto both players, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter links).

Theis will have a fully guaranteed $5MM salary for the coming season as a result of the move, which was always expected, given the crucial role he played for the team in 2019/20. The 28-year-old was Boston’s starting center, averaging 9.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 1.3 BPG in 24.1 minutes per contest. He’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2021.

Ojeleye, meanwhile, wasn’t a lock to be retained, but the cost ($1.75MM) isn’t substantial. Himmelsbach had reported on Thursday that Ojeleye’s status may be affected by what happened with Gordon Hayward and other players in free agency.

Presumably, with Hayward, Brad Wanamaker, Enes Kanter, and Vincent Poirier all headed elsewhere and team salary having declined significantly, the C’s are comfortable that there’s enough room for the forward on the roster and on the cap.

Ojeleye played a limited role for the club in 2019/20, averaging 3.4 PPG and 2.1 RPG on .408/.378/.875 shooting in 69 games (14.7 MPG).

Celtics Pick Up Option On Ojeleye, Status Still Uncertain

The Celtics have picked up Semi Ojeleye‘s team option for next season, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets.

Ojeleye’s contract remains non-guaranteed until Saturday. If Boston guarantees his deal, he’ll have a salary of $1.75MM.

That’s a bargain price for a rotation piece. Ojeleye appeared in 69 regular-season games last season, including six starts, and averaged 3.4 PPG and 2.1 RPG in 14.7 MPG.

However, it’s unlikely Ojeleye’s contract will be guaranteed, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe tweets. His status could be affected by the Gordon Hayward situation and other potential deals, Himmelsbach adds. Hayward decided to opt out of his contract so that he could become an unrestricted free agent.

Ojeleye was a 2017 second-round pick and has appeared in 198 games with Boston over three seasons.

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: Bembry, Ojeleye, Celtics, Bertans

Hawks swingman DeAndre’ Bembry, who is dealing with a hand injury, could be moved before the deadline, per a source. The Timberwolves are among the teams with eyes on the wing, though interest around the league isn’t expected to be strong.

It’s possible that Bembry is included in a potential multi-team D’Angelo Russell trade. Bembry starred at St. Joe’s before being selected with the No. 21 overall pick. Through three-plus seasons on the Hawks, the New Jersey native hasn’t taken flight.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • At least one team has an interest in trading for Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye, provided the price tag isn’t significant at all, a source tells Hoops Rumors. The 25-year-old has played in 47 games for Boston this season.
  • All signs point to a quiet deadline for the Celtics, according to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. “It feels like it’s kind of dead right now,” one league source told the Boston writer. Himmelsbach also noted that Houston was the party to initiate the Clint Capela talks, adding that it now appears those talks aren’t going anywhere because of the Rockets‘ high asking price.
  • As we passed along last month, the Wizards love Davis Bertans and see him as a long-term piece. Not much has changed, according to Candace Buckner of the Washington Post, the team plans on keeping the 27-year-old power forward and wants to re-sign him this offseason.
  • The Celtics remain interested in Bertans, per Himmelsbach. Chris Mannix of shared similar intel earlier today, writing that Boston’s interest in Bertans is “strong.”  However, according to Himmelsbach, the C’s appears resigned to the fact that they’re not getting the power forward.

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.”

Kemba Walker Collides With Teammate, Has Neck Sprain

NOVEMBER 24: Tim Bontemps of ESPN reports that Walker’s injury, incurred in his collision with Ojeleye in a Nuggets game on Friday, has been ruled a neck sprain. Bontempts reports that Walker has been listed as doubtful for tomorrow’s tilt against the Kings.

Bontemps relayed that Boston head coach Brad Stevens mentioned that Walker might be able to play through the pain, but preached caution: “Head injuries and neck injuries are scary. That’s why he’s doubtful to be honest.”

NOVEMBER 22: Kemba Walker, one of the prizes of this summer’s free agent class, has concussion-like symptoms after colliding with teammate Semi Ojeleye, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Early indications are that Walker did not suffer a serious injury, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Walker has been transported to a Denver area hospital for further evaluation, the team’s PR department tweets.

Walker was injured in the first half of Friday’s game against the Nuggets while trying to make a steal. He had his head down trying to control the ball and banged into Ojeleye’s mid-section. He was taken off on a stretcher.

Walker has been a major part of Boston’s hot start, averaging 22.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG and 4.8 APG. Walker signed a four-year, max deal with the Celtics early in free agency.

If he needs to miss multiple games, Marcus Smart, Brad Wanamaker and rookie Carsen Edwards could all receive increased minutes.