LAS VEGAS – The Celtics gave their top three players the day off Thursday in their summer league elimination game against the Golden State Warriors, which opened up an opportunity for second-round pick Jabari Bird to flourish.
Bird was able to score with relative ease against Warriors’ rotation player Patrick McCaw. Bird finished with 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting in the Celtics’ 93-69 win at Cox Pavilion. The Celtics advanced to the quarterfinals to face the winner of Sacramento-Dallas on Saturday evening.
Bird has averaged 13.7 points on 19-for-27 shooting in the past three summer league games, giving the Celtics some options for his future. The club could allow Bird to sign a contract overseas or place the shooting guard on its G-League roster and retain his rights.
The Celtics also could sign Bird to a “two-way” contract that allows him to spend a limited time in Boston without occupying one of the team’s 15 roster spots. Each NBA team, under this new collective bargaining agreement, have two “two-way” contracts.
The club likes each of its three second-round picks – Bird, Kadeem Allen and Semi Ojeleye — with Ojeleye having the best chance of earning a roster spot. With so many draft picks over the past few years, the Celtics have been stacking their G-League roster and keeping players overseas. Abdel Nader, a second-round pick in 2016, spent all of last season with G-League Maine.
“Jabari’s a really good basketball player and we’re finding that out,” summer league coach Walter McCarty said. “He can do a lot of things. He can score in the post, put the ball on the floor, come off pick-and-rolls, he can make plays for others. He can get out in transition. So he’s a really special player and we’re just seeing the beginning of the greatness that he’s trying to be.”
Jaylen Brown said he is not surprised by Bird’s recent success.
“Jabari is a steal [in the draft],” said Brown, Bird’s teammate at Cal. “I told the guys that when they worked him out.”
Off to Africa
Celtics swingman Brown will be among the players participating in the NBA Africa Game on Aug. 5 in Johannesburg, an exhibition played in support of UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and SOS Children’s Villages South Africa.
Brown will suit up for Team World, along with captains Dirk Nowitzki and Kemba Walker. The rest of Team World: DeMarcus Cousins, Kyle Lowry, Kristaps Porzingis, C.J. McCollum, Andre Drummond, Wilson Chandler, Courtney Lee, and Leandro Barbosa.
Team Africa features players born in Africa or who are second-generation African. That squad is captained by Luol Deng and Thabo Sefolosha and will be rounded out by Victor Oladipo, Dennis Schroder, Bismack Biyombo, Clint Capela, Gorgui Dieng, Serge Ibaka, Luc Mbah a Moute, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Salah Mejri. Joel Embiid, from Cameroon, is on the roster but won’t play because he is recovering from injury.
Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte also will be part of the NBA’s traveling party.
This will be the second NBA Africa Game, following the 2015 contest in Johannesburg.
“Our return to Johannesburg this summer is part of the league’s continued commitment to bring the authentic NBA experience to fans around the world,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver in a statement. “I would like to thank the NBPA for their participation and for being terrific partners on this game and surrounding events.”
Brown (bruised thigh), Jayson Tatum (knee tendinitis) and Nader (strained calf) watched the game in street clothes. Brown said he’s unlikely to play Saturday as a precaution and Tatum also is likely to be shut down for the rest of the summer league. Nader, a likely training camp invite, is day to day and could return Saturday.