Celtics add NBA vet to summer league roster, free agency update, and more

With a summer league training camp on the horizon, the Boston Celtics are in the final stages of strengthening their squad in Las Vegas.

The Celtics’ summer league roster will include former first-round draft pick Udoka Azubuike, according to the team source who was granted anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to speak on the record. Azubuike spent his first three seasons in the league with the Utah Jazz. Danny Ainge’s front office declined his selection for a fourth-year team prior to last season. Azubuike scored just 125 points in 359 minutes last season and had some good performances as he got off to a stale final week of last season.

Azubuike is a 7-foot-7 base runner who drops mostly on defense while hitting punts away with his 7-foot-7 wing and rolling across the paint on offense. He’s explosive enough to leap to the rim and immediately throw it down off the catch, so he and JD Davison must put on a show in Vegas. He would be a good candidate for a two-way deal if he could show better hands and more liquidity. Teams now have an additional two-way slot thanks to a new collective bargaining agreement signed Wednesday, which allows the Celtics to carry three players in addition to a 15-man roster.

Also filling out the roster is combo guard Mychal Mulder, a draft scorer with three years of experience in the NBA; Justin Bean, who averaged 10.2 points per game for the Memphis Hustle G League team last season; Aleksandr Palcerowski of Spain’s top-flight Gran Canaria, at 7-foot-1 center, is a capable finisher who catches and rolls, as first reported by The Boston Globe. Kamar Baldwin and Reggie Kisunlal play from the Maine Celtics last season. Also joining the team are 6-foot-10 Vincent Valerio Bowdon, as first reported by the Stockrisers’ Jake Weingarten and Nebraska rookie Sam Griesel, as first reported by HuskerOnline’s Robin Washut.

The team is still working on bringing in another point guard for the summer league tournament as well, according to a team source.

Boston’s 2021 second-round pick, Johan Bejarin, has signed a two-year contract with French club Nanterre and will not come to Boston next season. Drafted by Boston in 2020, Israeli guard Yam Madar, 22, can still make it to training camp after his international duties this summer.

Boston has room at the back end of their roster for a point guard with good pace control and vision like Madar’s, though he still has a lot of development in both his skills and physicality to be NBA-ready. But multiple league sources believe Madar felt he should be ready to go both ways this coming season.

Grant Williams. (Jerome Miron/USA Today)

Next moves

With Kristaps Porziņģis filing Thursday and free agency open after 24 hours, Brad Stevens and the front office continue to actively explore commercial opportunities, according to league sources. After trading Marcus Smart, Boston still has a potential playmaking need, depending on how Malcolm Brogdon’s situation changes after his deal with the Clippers collapsed last week.

Then there’s Grant Williams’ restricted free agency, as the Celtics contemplate whether to keep someone who can fulfill an important long-term role as the front-court loud man. Al Horford could still do that to an extent next season, but players’ activity levels and aggression tend to drop dramatically in their late 30s.

Jordan Walsh will eventually be able to help bring in the kind of physical, perimeter defense that’s been a big part of Williams’ role, and team sources predict he needs some time to jump into that spot on the opposing team.

With the Celtics expected to agree to a two-year contract extension with Borziers on July 6 that could pay him up to $77 million, matching Williams’ bid sheet will make it very difficult to stay out of the second arena for years to come once the team makes its potential supervillain bid. to Jaylen Brown.

With Williams having received a lot of interest from young teams looking to make the next step in the postseason, getting some small compensation in signing and trading could be the path Boston takes if Williams’ market ends up moving beyond the mid-level exception. 12.5 million dollars.

Brooklyn and Atlanta are the only teams with trade exclusions that could fit Williams at the moment according to Spotrac, so any other bidders would have to send in some salary. Due to the base year’s compensation rule, Williams’ salary for matching purposes will be half of his first year’s salary in his new deal. If Williams signs a deal in the $50-$65 million range, Boston will be able to bring in a player worth more than $5 million with the mid-tier taxpayer exception. Then if Williams signs with a team using the cap space or non-taxpayer MLE of $12.5 million, chances are Boston can use the taxpayer MLE to sign a free agent.

Miles is heading south

After several of Ime Udoka’s staff left Joe Mazzola’s bench to reunite with Udoka in Houston, there was only one domino standing. Aaron Miles was initially on the fence about heading to Houston and staying in Boston, but he seized the opportunity to head to New Orleans and work with Willie Green.

Green and Miles have been close friends for years, which helped sway the former Celtics assistant into accepting the Pelicans’ offer. Although Udoka did not recruit Miles during the season, the pair discussed a role for him in Houston after the dust settled after losing the Conference Finals to Miami. But, according to a league source, after Miles saw the direction Boston was headed with big-name personnel in Sam Cassell and Charles Lee, he saw a greater amount of upward movement in his career in New Orleans.

Boston currently has three assistant front bench slots filled with returning Cassel, Lee and Tony Dobbins for his fourth season on the bench for the Celtics. DJ MacLeay, who was often at coaches rallies last season, is still on board.

(Top photo by Udoka Azubuike: Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

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