Semi Ojeleye

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.

Marcus Morris Likely Out For Extended Period

Celtics forward Marcus Morris is expected to miss extended time due to a left knee injury, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets.

Morris played 25 minutes against the Spurs on Friday after missing the previous game against the Mavs but was sidelined for Boston’s back-to-back on Sunday and Monday. Morris’ debut with the Celtics was delayed by eight games due to left knee soreness and the issue has lingered even though coach Brad Stevens has been careful with Morris’ minutes.

Morris has not played more than 28 minutes in any of the 16 games he’s been able to take the court. He’s averaging 12.1 PPG and 5.5 RPG. Last season with Detroit, Morris started 79 games and averaged 14.0 PPG and 4.6 RPG. Stevens had said on Sunday that Morris would be re-evaluated when the team returns home on Tuesday, according to the team’s official Twitter feed.

Morris was acquired from the Pistons this summer in a deal that sent shooting guard Avery Bradley to Detroit, a move that helped to facilitate the signing of free agent forward Gordon Hayward.

With Morris out, rookie Jayson Tatum will continue to play major minutes. Rookie Semi Ojeleye and Euro import Daniel Theis will also see an uptick in playing time.

Atlantic Notes: Anthony, Hayward, Ojeleye, Bayless

In a wide-ranging interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Thunder superstar Carmelo Anthony discussed his activism, his trade to Oklahoma City, missing his family in New York, and more. The interview is worth a read, but Anthony once again discussed his tumultuous exit from New York. The 1o-time NBA All-Star said multiple times before the trade that he wanted to win in New York — and even admitted in the interview that he was prepared to come to media day with the Knicks before a trade was consummated.

“It was bittersweet. That’s my city. I didn’t want to leave like that,” Anthony said. “I didn’t want it to end like that. But it’s just a reoccurring thing that happens in New York. It happened in the past. It happened to other people. It happens all the time. Nobody ever goes out the right way in New York. I wanted to have an opportunity now to go somewhere else rather than wait and dealing with that. It’s at the end. It’s over with.”

The Thunder have played well with Anthony, Russell Westbrook, and Paul George as part of a revamped roster. However, as Anthony touched upon in the interview, being away from his son — who convinced him to join the Thunder — and his wife has been the most challenging part of the process.

Check out other news from the Atlantic Division:

Celtics Notes: Morris, Baynes, Defense, Ojeleye

Marcus Morris may be ready for his debut with the Celtics this week, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. The 6’9 forward was acquired from the Pistons this summer in a deal for Avery Bradley, but has been unable to suit up because of soreness in his left knee. Morris had hoped to be ready for tomorrow’s game with the Spurs, but now Wednesday seems most likely.

“He needs to have at least a day of hard practice with our guys before he could play in a game,” said coach Brad Stevens. “That’s probably a little bit optimistic for Monday.” Morris didn’t travel with the team on its current road trip, staying in Boston for more treatments on the knee.

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • Aron Baynes was an under-the-radar move in a newsworthy Celtics offseason, but he is turning out to be a valuable addition, Blakely writes in a separate story. The former Piston has provided a physical presence in the paint, something the team lacked last year. Baynes, who signed a one-year, $4.3MM deal, has started three of the six games so far and is averaging 6.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per night. “Everybody has their own role to play and value to add,” Stevens said. “He’s physical and tough.”
  • There were concerns that Boston’s defense might decline after losing Jae Crowder and Bradley in offseason trades, but early-season numbers show an improvement, Blakely notes in another piece. The Celtics ranked third in the league heading into Saturday’s game with a defensive rating of 95.9. They are in the top 10 in steals, points off turnovers and effective field goal percentage. “It’s great team defense,” said Daniel Theis, who got his first start this week. “Two games in a row now, under 90 points, that’s really good defense.”
  • Rookie forward Semi Ojeleye only plays about 11 minutes per night, but he gets the toughest defensive matchups when he’s on the court, writes Jay King of MassLive. A second-round pick in this year’s draft, Ojeleye earned a roster spot on the strength of his defense and the Celtics have taken advantage of that attribute since the season began. Ojeleye has found himself matched up with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kristaps Porzingis and LeBron James. “You just try to prepare, watch film, try to be always ready,” Ojeleye said. “You try to take it seriously, know their tendencies, and go out there and just do what you can.”

Celtics Sign Semi Ojeleye, Waive Demetrius Jackson

JULY 19: The Celtics have officially signed Ojeleye, according to a press release from the team. Meanwhile, Jackson cleared waivers this week and his partial guarantee has been stretched across seven seasons by the Celtics, as we noted on Tuesday.

JULY 15: The Celtics are planning to sign second-round pick Semi Ojeleye to a four-year deal with the first two years guaranteed, a league source told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, point guard Demetrius Jackson has been waived and his guaranteed $650K will likely have his partially guaranteed salary stretched out if he’s not claimed, Himmelsbach adds in a separate tweet.

The four-year deal for Ojeleye is quite a commitment to the 37th overall pick in the draft. The 6’7” forward played two seasons at Duke before transferring to SMU. In his season with the Mustangs, he averaged 19 PPG and 6.9 RPG. He can play either forward spot but is mostly considered a stretch four. The club lost veteran power forwards Amir Johnson (Sixers) and Jonas Jerebko (Jazz) in free agency.

Jackson’s full salary of $1,384,750 for next season would have become guaranteed today if he had not been waived. The point guard appeared in just five games with Boston during his rookie year.