LAS VEGAS — Despite dealing with the tragic and sudden death of his father, Celtics point guard Tremont Waters not only remained with his teammates but was in the starting lineup for Saturday’s summer league quarterfinal game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Edward Waters was found dead in a New Haven hotel room on Thursday morning. According to a source, Tremont Waters learned of his father’s passing before the Celtics’ game with the Grizzlies on Thursday evening but decided to play.
Tremont’s family traveled to Las Vegas to be with him as the Celtics played for the fifth time and were the No. 1 seed in the eight-team playoff. The Celtics lost, 94-88, with Waters scoring 16 points in 32 minutes.
Waters played flawlessly in the early going, scoring on a running bank shot and then following with a steal and score, showing why the Celtics signed him to a two-way contract earlier this week.
Waters was drafted 51st overall by the Celtics on June 20 and traveled to New York for the occasion with his family, including his father, to walk on the stage and speak with the media.
Several family members flew to Las Vegas to console Waters, who did not speak with the media. He left the Thomas & Mack Center with his family, signing autographs for charity before exiting.
“From the Celtics side, from the top down everyone has offered and done as much as they can to help him, that’s obviously a lot more important than summer league basketball,” coach Scott Morrison said. “It was his choice to stay and play. He felt that was the best way he wanted to deal with it.
“I thought he played great, especially with all of those considerations. So we’re just here to support him and do all we can to help him. Just a really unfortunate situation.”
It’s uncertain whether Waters, a New Haven native, was going to return home. His teammates were devastated by the news and supportive of Waters.
“All you can do is just pray for him,” Grant Williams said. “No one can describe the feeling of losing your father. You just gotta be there for him for whatever he needs but I always try to take a step back and [let him] come to me if he needs anything.”
Said guard Carsen Edwards: “Just be there for him, really. Personally, I can’t put myself in his shoes and understand where he’s coming from. All I can try to do is be there for him. If he needs space, give him space. If he needs someone to talk to or someone to listen to him, just be there for him.”
Edwards led the Celtics with 25 points on 9-for-23 shooting, including 9 in the fourth quarter as Boston cut a 16-point deficit to 1 in the final minute. It was an impressive summer for Edwards, who confirmed the Globe report that he has agreed to a four-year contract with the first three years fully guaranteed.
Edwards averaged 19.2 points in five summer games and shot 46.6 percent from the 3-point line.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be able to have an opportunity like this and at the same time have security. It’s a good feeling.”
At Purdue, Edwards was a prolific scorer who averaged 24.3 points per game as a junior. He carried that prowess into the summer league, where he scored in bunches.
“I just tried to play my best and get to my spots and make the best decisions,” he said. “I don’t know what I showed this summer. I just wanted to play my game the way the coaches and the same told me before we got here.”
The Celtics entered Saturday’s contest averaging 98 points and shooting 47 percent over the first four games. But they struggled mightily beginning late in the first quarter — allowing a 30-8 run — and trailed most of the game against a team they had beaten handily Thursday.
Boston shot 36.7 percent and 28.9 from the 3-point line. Tacko Fall, the popular 7-foot-6-inch center, played just 6 minutes, 32 seconds and scored 2 points with two rebounds. He finished the summer averaging 7.2 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks in five games.
“My opinion is he should be given a shot in the NBA somewhere,” Morrison said. “I think he showed that he’s capable and worthy of a spot and the knocks against him are the obvious ones, he can’t move, he can’t run, he’s slow. He had a lot of moments this week where he showed he could keep up with the pace, catch the ball on the run, and finish. All week he showed that he belongs here.”