Semi Ojeleye

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 SI.com 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.

Celtics To Guarantee Semi Ojeleye’s 2019/20 Salary

The Celtics intend to keep forward Semi Ojeleye on their roster through July 1, guaranteeing his salary for the 2019/20 season, reports Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). Ojeleye is on a minimum-salary deal, so he’ll earn $1,618,520 next season.

Even as the Celtics’ roster appears set to undergo some unexpected changes this summer, Ojeleye never appeared to be a candidate to be released before his guarantee date. The 24-year-old appeared in 56 games for Boston last season, averaging 3.3 PPG and 1.5 RPG.

With Al Horford, Aron Baynes, and Marcus Morris all potentially on the way out, Ojeleye could be in line for a larger role in the Celtics’ frontcourt next season.

Retaining Ojeleye won’t impact the Celtics’ ability to offer a maximum-salary contract to Kemba Walker. The team projects to have up to about $34MM in space, even after accounting for Ojeleye.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • A source close to Al Horford insists that no final decision has been made about his future, but his time in Boston is over, Himmelsbach confirms. Horford is tentatively expected to hold free agent meetings in Atlanta next week when free agency begins, a source tells Sam Amick of The Athletic.
  • The Celtics have yet to tender a qualifying offer to Terry Rozier, and figure to take that decision down to the wire, Himmelsbach writes. I’d expect Boston to issue a QO to Rozier just in case, but that offer could be renounced early in free agency if the team reaches a deal with Kemba Walker or another big-name free agent.
  • A league source tells Himmelsbach that D’Angelo Russell is a player who would interest the Celtics. Presumably, he’d be a backup plan if Boston can’t secure an agreement with Walker.
  • There have been no directives from team ownership about what direction the Celtics should take this summer, according to Himmelsbach, who adds that the club won’t make any moves based on additions or subtractions of other Eastern Conference rivals.

Celtics Notes: Davis, Hayward, Draft, Adams

The Celtics should be regarded as favorites to trade for Pelicans star Anthony Davis, an NBA insider tells Fletcher Mackel of WDSU in New Orleans (Twitter link). According to the source, Jayson Tatum tops the Pelicans’ wish list, and new head of basketball operations David Griffin likes Marcus Smart as well. Robert WilliamsSemi Ojeleye and Guerschon Yabusele could help fill out the deal, along with at least this year’s first-round pick, which falls at No. 14.

Earlier this week, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (appearing on The Sedano Show podcast) suggested the Lakers could still be in the running for Davis if they are willing to offer the same package they did at the trade deadline. McMenamin says several people he talked to in the Pelicans’ organization would love to have Brandon Ingram and wanted to take the Lakers’ proposal at the time. GM Dell Demps, who turned down the offer, has since been fired.

The Celtics’ prospects for Davis will depend on whether Griffin believes Ingram has a brighter future than Tatum and if he might be more intrigued by R.J. Barrett, which would bring the Knicks into play with their No. 3 pick, writes John Karalis of MassLive.

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • President of basketball operations Danny Ainge is confident that Gordon Hayward will return to an All-Star level next season, relays Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Hayward was inconsistent this year as he worked his way back from a devastating ankle injury, but Ainge believes another offseason to recover will help. “I’m really excited for Gordon’s upcoming season,” Ainge said. “He’s working hard right now in the gym. He’s here every day with five or six coaches and bodies out there working extremely hard. He’s put a lot of time in. I’m anticipating great things from Gordon this next year.”
  • In a separate story, Forsberg looks at a few point guards the Celtics could target in the draft if they don’t expect to re-sign free agents Kyrie Irving or Terry Rozier. Forsberg states that Boston could try to trade up for North Carolina’s Coby White or stay at No. 14 and target Virginia’s Ty Jerome, Purdue’s Carsen Edwards, Mississippi’s Terence Davis, Tennessee’s Jordan Bone or Brewster Academy’s Jalen Lecque. The Celtics also own picks No. 20 and 22 in the first round.
  • Connecticut guard Jalen Adams worked out for the Celtics yesterday, tweets Chris Grenham of NESN.

Celtics Notes: Lineup, Irving, Ojeleye, Rozier

After snapping a four-game losing streak on Friday vs. Washington, the Celtics suffered another home loss on Sunday against the Rockets. The game once again left Boston’s players and coaches grasping for answers, with Kyrie Irving and head coach Brad Stevens both suggesting that the C’s simply have to “play better,” as Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com relays.

While there has been an assumption for much of the season that the Celtics will eventually figure things out and hit their stride, there are only 18 games left in their regular season schedule, and time is running out, writes Bontemps. Some league observers believe Boston needs to shake up its starting five, but Stevens isn’t sure it’s that simple.

“You know, obviously, we’ll look at everything,” Stevens said. “We’ve been looking at everything after every game. Every night when you go to bed, every minute when you wake up, you’re always thinking about that. There’s things that — that are helpful in that, and things that are not helpful. And if it’s the root of your issues, then I think the — then a small tweak can help. I’m not sure that that’s our root [problem].”

Here’s more from out of Boston:

  • Second-year forward Semi Ojeleye, who isn’t even a regular part of the rotation, made an effort to motivate his teammates on Sunday, yelling at them in a third-quarter huddle to “wake the f–k up,” as Jay King of The Athletic details. The Celtics were down by 28 points at the time. “Making or missing shots isn’t going to determine our wins or losses,” Ojeleye said after the game. “It’s really about effort right now. And I was just trying to tell guys to wake up. The look on everybody’s faces was like we already lost the game, and it was the start of the third quarter.”
  • Both King and Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer pointed to Marcus Morriscomments from last month about things not being “fun” this season in Boston, suggesting that the team’s demeanor on and off the court continues to line up with that sentiment. King writes that recent opponents have noticed the Celtics’ tension on the court, while O’Connor wonders if the club’s identity this season has become “discontent.”
  • Source around the team tell O’Connor that Irving’s persona has changed since around the start of February, and that he has become more “disengaged and detached from those around the team.” Of course, as O’Connor observes, February 1 was the day that Kyrie was asked again about his upcoming free agency and replied that he doesn’t “owe anybody s–t.”
  • League sources tell O’Connor that the Suns offered a protected first-round pick for Terry Rozier before the season, but Boston wanted an unprotected first-rounder.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Williams, Ojeleye, Celtics

Kyrie Irving tops the Knicks’ wish list in free agency next summer because he’s their most realistic target, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston opines. Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard would elevate the franchise even more than Irving but both of those potential free agents would be much harder to land, Blakely continues. Securing Irving’s services won’t be easy, either, but the Knicks have a better chance with the Celtics point guard, who grew up in New Jersey. It’s not only his ability but potential availability that makes him attractive to the Knicks’ front office, Blakely adds. Blakely declared that Irving topped the Knicks’ wish list during a podcast this week.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Bringing in Alan Williams is a low-risk flier for the Nets, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. The team has been stockpiling big men and rebounders and the 6’8” Williams fits both those categories, Lewis continues. It’s rare to land a fourth-year pro on a two-way contract who has averaged 15 rebounds per 36 minutes over his career, Lewis points out. Williams reached an agreement with Brooklyn on Friday.
  • Semi Ojeleye was probably the biggest beneficiary of Gordon Hayward’s injury last season but he hasn’t established a steady spot in the Celtics rotation, Blakely examines in a player profile. While Ojeleye has shown the ability to defend multiple frontcourt positions and switch out on guards, he’ll simply have to be ready to contribute any way he can with the return of Hayward, Blakely adds. Ojeleye appeared in 73 regular -season games last season.
  • With the return of Hayward and Irving from injuries, it’s tough to find any reason why the Celtics won’t roll to the Eastern Conference title, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports opines. The team’s closest competitors – Toronto, Milwaukee and Philadelphia – can’t match the Celtics’ depth and overall talent, Mannix continues. Even the team’s projected second unit of Terry RozierMarcus SmartJaylen BrownMarcus Morris and Daniel Theis could compete for a playoff spot, Mannix notes.

Atlantic Rumors: Lessort, Fizdale, Ojeleye, LeVert

Sixers’ draft-and-stash prospect Mathias Lessort has signed a two-year deal with Spain’s Unicaja Malaga, according to Eurohoops.net. The 6’9” Lessort, 22, played in Serbia last season for Red Star Belgrade and averaged 8.5 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 30 games. Lessort was the 50th overall pick in 2017.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks’ brass is thrilled over coach David Fizdale’s five-day visit with star player Kristaps Porzingis in Latvia, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. The front office has been impressed by Fizdale’s ability to connect with the young players, Berman continues. No one in the Knicks’ front office visited Porzingis in Europe last summer and there were lingering concerns about his feelings toward the organization after his fallout with previous team president Phil Jackson, Berman adds.
  • Celtics swingman Semi Ojeleye is focused on becoming a more consistent offensive threat, Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders writes. “Definitely knocking down open shots,” Ojeleye said of his offseason focus. “Just gotta do a better job being consistent with that. Then offensively, I think making more plays.” Ojeleye was an afterthought in the Celtics’ attack last season, even though he appeared in 73 games as a rookie. He averaged 2.7 PPG in 15.8 MPG while shooting 34.6% from the field and 32% from long range.
  • Nets guard Caris LeVert has received little attention this offseason but he could be poised for a breakout season, Brian Lewis of the New York Post opines. LeVert averaged 13.8 PPG on 46.5% shooting, including 44.1% on 3-point tries, heading into the New Year last season before minor injuries piled up. LeVert generated more trade interest before the February deadline and prior to this year’s draft than any other Brooklyn player, Lewis continues, but the organization chose to hold onto him. “For me it’s just staying healthy and continue to maximize my potential. I’m not really worried about anybody else but myself, honestly,” LeVert told Lewis.

Atlantic Notes: Perry, Ojeleye, Bolden

While Knicks general manager Scott Perry is still relatively new to the job, an impressive second summer at the helm has shown that’s he’s a competent choice to lead the franchise. Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders writes that the stellar play of second-round pick Mitchell Robinson is the latest example of his prowess.

Not only did Perry nab a useful young big man that could grow to be a part of the Knicks’ core, he did it on the cheap. Robinson signed a four-year deal worth $6.6MM that will keep him under affordable team control.

Hamilton also calls to light Perry’s selection of Kevin Knox in the first round, the hiring of David Fizdale and the 2017 trade of Carmelo Anthony as the general manager’s early portfolio of work with the Knicks.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • The Knicks will look to see Mario Hezonja break out in his fourth year as an NBA pro and, as Marc Berman of The New York Post writes, one of the keys to that will be the swingman maintaining his confidence. A stable coaching staff should help in that regard.
  • The Celtics effectively guaranteed Semi Ojeleye‘s contract by not waiving him by today, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe tweets. The second-year forward has stood out for the C’s during summer league.
  • Sixers draft-and-stash prospect Jonah Bolden, who hopes to play for the big league club this season, struggled in summer league play. The 2017 pick understands that he didn’t perform as well this year as he did in the previous summer league and, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes, attributes it to a lack of organized basketball this spring.