LAS VEGAS — It’s unlikely Tacko Fall will make the Celtics roster. He is signed to an Exhibit 10 contract, a nonguaranteed deal that allows the Celtics to send Fall to the G League if he is waived.
Yet, the 7-foot-6-inch rookie from Central Florida, in his quest to prove that mammoth centers can play and compete in what has become a small-ball, fast-paced NBA, is becoming the highlight of the Las Vegas Summer League.
As the Celtics’ backup center, Fall is drawing ovations each time he walks to the scorer’s table to enter the game, such as Monday’s 89-72 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Thomas & Mack Center.
The summer league crowd has grown attached to Fall, and cheers vigorously each time he does anything. Blocked shot? Ovation. Rebound? Ovation. Jump hook? Bigger ovation. Dunk? Total mayhem.
He finished with 12 points, 2 rebounds, a steal, and a block, turning himself into the most entertaining player of the summer league with Zion Williamson declared out with a knee injury. And he re-entered the game late in the third period and added a layup (raucous applause) and then two free throws (MVP chants).
Fall then slammed home a lob from Tremont Waters to complete an 18-0 run and seal the game after the Cavaliers had climbed to within 69-65.
“It’s been a great experience so far, I feel blessed,” Fall said. “Every game I feel like I have something to prove, that I can play in the NBA. That’s where my mind is at. Ever since I got to Boston, they really try to keep me up to speed with everything and here being able to compete with some of these guys is a confidence boost.”
Celtics summer league coach Scott Morrison said he told Fall to remember why he was in Las Vegas, to make an impression on the organization and eventually land an NBA job. The crowd reaction is a potential distraction.
“We have to do whatever we can to show him [he has something to prove], while he’s here,” Morrison said. “I didn’t want Tacko to get too wrapped up [in the crowd] but that was a moot point. He’s used to getting a lot of attention. He’s handled it like a pro so far.”
The Celtics received a scare in the opening period when former first-round pick Guerschon Yabusele hurt his hand diving for a loose ball. He was taken immediately to the locker room with a dislocated pinkie but he was able to return.
Yabusele played as if his roster spot is not secure, running all over the floor for loose balls, and he even recorded a chase-down block when he returned. With the Celtics drafting four players — three who are likely to make the roster — Yabusele’s role and status with the Celtics is tenuous at best.
He finished with 4 points on 1-for-3 shooting, scoring a layup in the third quarter for his first basket of the summer league. Waters sparkled with 12 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals. Robert Williams added 10 points, including two thunderous dunks.
The Celtics (2-0) play Denver on Tuesday and Memphis on Thursday before competing in the elimination part of the tournament.