After waiving Bruno Caboclo on September 20, the Boston Celtics have been quick to fill up the roster spot recently vacated by him. Bobby Manning of CLNS Media reported that the Celtics have signed 22-year-old big man Luka Samanic to a training camp deal.
Samanic was originally drafted 19th overall by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2019 NBA Draft. In the two years he played for the Spurs, Samanic averaged 3.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 0.6 assists while shooting 43 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from three. After the Spurs waived him last season, Samanic signed with the New York Knicks on a two-way contract.
Samanic never played a game for the Knicks, but played seven games with their G-League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks, where he averaged 27.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 3.3 assists while shooting 54.9 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from three, according to Basketball-Reference.
With Samanic aboard, the Celtics are up to 19 players on their training camp roster, with Brodric Thomas reportedly expected to grab the last spot.
Celtics Not Planning to Add Big-Name Center
After Heavy’s Sean Deveney reported that Robert Williams III would get surgery that would force him to miss four to six weeks, and Shams Charania of The Athletic followed that up with his report that the Celtics were waiving Bruno Caboclo, many speculated that the Celtics were planning to add another veteran big to shore up their depth.
While options like LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard, and Hassan Whiteside are still on the table, according to Jay King of The Athletic, none of them are on the team’s radar.
With the Celtics not expected to add any veteran bigs to their frontcourt, that leaves them with Al Horford, Grant Williams, Luke Kornet, Mfiondu Kabengele, Noah Vonleh, and Samanic as their playable centers on their training camp roster.
Why Boston is Going This Route
Since trading Daniel Theis to the Indiana Pacers for Malcolm Brogdon, they have not replaced him with a proven veteran center. They previously showed interest in Thomas Bryant, according to Chris Haynes, but Bryant chose the Los Angeles Lakers over them.
All indications are that they’re going to run with Kornet and Kabengele as their primary backup options behind Horford and Williams at full strength instead of signing one of the bigger-name veteran free agent bigs still available. In the latest Heavy on Celtics Newsletter, Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney explained why the Celtics are choosing this route.
“The Celtics had hoped to address the question of depth in the frontcourt with some makeshift solutions this year, giving veteran journeyman Luke Kornet an opportunity to earn a spot and leaving open the possibility of minutes for two-way signee Mfiondu Kabengele.”
Deveney went on to explain why the organization prefers them over bigger-name veterans like Howard or Aldridge.
“With the knee surgery that C Robert Williams will have this week, logic dictates the Celtics must now pursue a veteran big man like LaMarcus Aldridge or Dwight Howard. There are some in the organization, though, who want to stick with the idea of giving untested players a chance first, especially if Williams can return sometime in November.”
The Celtics may not have interest in a bigger-name center at the moment, but that may change if Kornet and Kabengele prove to not be capable of being their backup bigs.