Throughout the summer, the Boston Celtics have looked short on talent at the center position, an issue that has been made even more precarious since the news that Robert Williams will miss the first eight to twelve weeks of the season.
Being thin at the five is a new development, as entering the 2021-22 NBA season, the Celtics had somewhat of an embarrassment of riches at the position, but most of those rotational big men have now moved on to the next chapters in their careers.
Bruno Fernando was one of those big men, yet despite some impressive Summer League and pre-season showings, he struggled to crack the rotation and found himself being sent to the Houston Rockets as part of the deal to bring Daniel Theis back to Boston. However, unlike Dennis Schroder and Enes Freedom, who were also part of that deal, Fernando has stuck around in Houston and looks like he could force himself into the team’s rotation for the upcoming season.
As such, it should come as no surprise that the Rockets have extended the rim-runners stay with the team, tying him down to a four-year $10.9 million deal, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“Houston Rockets center Bruno Fernando has agreed on a four-year, $10.9 million deal, his agents Andy Shiffman and Mark Bartelstein of @PrioritySports tell ESPN. Fernando will have his two-way contract coverted to this new long-term deal,” Wojnarowski Tweeted.
Fernando participated in 20 games for the Celtics last season, averaging one point, and 0.8 rebounds per game – after joining the Rockets, he played in 10 games, averaging 6.9 points, and four rebounds per contest while shooting 70.7% from inside the perimeter.
Kabengele Shines in Pre-Season Debut
As we look ahead to the new season, Mfiondu Kabengele looks to be the big man who will replace Bruno Fernandes towards the end of the Celtics rotation – which is what we should expect from the Celtics’ latest two-way player.
Yet, on October 2, in Boston’s first pre-season game against the Charlotte Hornets, Kabengele put in a fine performance and gave interim head coach Joe Mazzulla food for thought. In 10 minutes of game time, Kabengele scored 10 points, secured three rebounds, dished out two assists, and hit his lone three-point attempt – and also provided some effort and hustle which won’t show up in the box score.
Similar to his Summer League performances, Kabengele was one of the more active players on the floor, but at this early juncture of the pre-season, the 25-year-old center will need to continue impressing if he wishes to make a big enough impression to earn some rotation minutes once the regular-season gets underway.
Joe Mazzulla Grateful For The Opportunity
In what has been a summer of unexpected changes for the Celtics, Joe Mazzulla has taken control of the coaching duties in Boston on an interim basis – although the future of Ime Udoka is far from clear at this point.
Yet, in his first official game as the team’s head coach, Mazzulla saw the Celtics dismantle the Hornets while playing a noticeably fast style of basketball that accentuated the team’s ferocious offensive upside.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Mazzulla shared his gratitude for the position he currently finds himself in.
“It felt like I was coaching a great team that wanted to win…That was fun to coach. Just grateful for it. Like I said, grateful because the Celtics, grateful because I get to coach a bunch of great guys and great players. And not many people in my position get that opportunity, so just really being more grateful than anything else,” Mazzulla said on October 2.
Boston’s next pre-season game will take place on October 5, when they take on the Toronto Raptors.