Celtics sign 7-6 rookie Tacko Fall after impressive summer-league showing

The <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/boston/" data-ylk="slk:Celtics">Celtics</a> are banking on the upside of Tacko Fall, rewarding him with a low-risk, high-reward contract. (Getty)
The Celtics are banking on the upside of Tacko Fall, rewarding him with a low-risk, high-reward contract. (Getty)

Somehow, Tacko Fall did not get drafted.

The 7-6 center who shot 74 percent from the field over his career at UCF and more than held his own when the Knights came oh-so-close to upsetting Duke in the NCAA tournament, was relegated to rookie free-agent status this summer with the Boston Celtics.

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Celtics announce contract for Tacko Fall

After an impressive showing from Fall in summer-league play, the Celtics announced on Thursday that they have signed him alongside Tremont Waters, Max Strus and Javonte Green.

Terms of the deal were not announced. The team announced that Waters and Strus received the team’s pair of two-way deals, meaning that Fall did not. Each team is allotted a pair of two-way deals that pays players an amount that corresponds with the amount of time they play in the G-League and the NBA.

Fall’s deal reportedly an Exhibit 10 contract

The Boston Globe reports that Fall’s deal is an Exhibit 10 contract. An exhibit 10 contract is a one-year deal for the league minimum that guarantees a $50,000 bonus if a player is waived and accepts a spot on the team’s G-League roster and remains on the team for 60 days. It’s an incentive to keep players from taking deals overseas.

So Fall’s role with the Celtics is far from guaranteed. But the Celtics are making the heady play of taking a chance on intriguing big man after he was neglected in the draft.

Smart gamble by Celtics

Fall’s athleticism and ability to keep up with the pace of NBA play remain significant questions. But his upside of disrupting opposing offenses with his enormous size in the paint and his ability to get an occasional easy basket are worth gambling on.

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge put that upside in perspective when talking with MassLive.

“Tacko is fun to watch. He makes me laugh,” Ainge said. “Some of the plays he makes are hilarious because you just don’t see them. Guards get in a bind and they just throw the ball up in the air, then Tacko grabs them and makes tip-toe dunks from under the basket. It’s just like a senior in high school playing against fourth graders sometimes out there.”

He can run

Fall ran the floor well at times during summer league, providing a glimpse that he may be able to keep up with the NBA pace.

In five games, he averaged 7.2 points, four rebounds, and 1.4 blocks while showing off that high-end efficiency offense he put on display in college with a 77.3 field-goal percentage.

“He’s a great kid, he’s working really hard,” Danny Ainge told MassLive. “We want to take his development very very seriously. He’s a high priority for us to try to really develop into a player.”

No guarantee, but worth the risk

Of course succeeding against summer league competition and making it in the NBA are two entirely different thing.

But again. This is an upside play. He’s worth the contract.

If he develops into a quality NBA contributor with a unique set of skills with the Celtics, teams that spent low-value picks on players who are long gone from their rosters in coming years will be kicking themselves for missing the opportunity.

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