After four seasons in Boston, forward Semi Ojeleye has decided to take his talents to Milwaukee. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has been informed that the Celtics free agent has agreed to a one-year deal with the defending champion Bucks, via Ojeleye’s agent Sean Kennedy. Per MassLive, the former second-round pick is expected to receive the veteran’s minimum.
Ojeleye, 26, started a personal-best 15 games in 2020-21 — six more starts than he had mustered up over his prior three seasons in the league. The added looks led to career highs across the board for the SMU product, averaging 4.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 17.0 minutes per game. With that said, he did begin to fall out of favor in Brad Stevens’ rotation later in the year, logging fewer than 10 minutes in 11 of his final 19 game appearances (including playoffs).
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Ojeleye wasn’t much of a threat offensively throughout his Boston tenure, averaging just 3.5 points per game over his 254 games in green and white. However, his defensive tenacity was much appreciated, especially against arguably the league’s best. Ojeleye earned the mantra the “Giannis Stopper” for his ability to (somewhat) slow down two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo during a handful of playoff bouts.
“Semi’s always ready for the challenge and that’s the bottom line,” Stevens said back in 2018, via NBC Sports. “Semi is always ready for the challenge. Nobody can stop Giannis individually, you have to throw as many bodies as you can at him and [Ojeleye] is one guy that’s prepared and he’ll work as hard as he can to make it as tough as possible.”
Ojeleye to Fill the PJ Tucker Role in Milwaukee?
Ojeleye’s signing comes on the heels of Milwaukee’s defensive anchor, PJ Tucker, skipping town on the first day of free agency to ink a deal with the Miami Heat. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Tucker is netting a two-year contract worth $15 million.
The wily veteran took to Instagram shortly after news of his departure to share a heartfelt message to the organization that helped him capture his first NBA championship. Here’s what he had to say:
Wow.. I’m still a little lost for words to be honest. Still in shook but it is what it is. Today took a hard turn on the road of my career but like my grandma used to tell me.. all you can control is what you can control. With that being said Milwaukee.. the city of MILWAUKEE!!!! You will never fully understand what y’all mean to me. Our time together however short will hold some of the best memories of my life forever. You took me in and had my back throughout our journey and I will FOREVER be grateful and hold you near to my heart. I can’t thank y’all enough.. WE WILL ALWAYS BE DAWGS!
Of course, Ojeleye is a downgrade from Tucker at this moment. Yet, the 6-foot-6-inch, 240-pound forward does offer a slew of promising traits as a defender. Plus, he’s also a whole decade younger than Tucker. As mentioned before, he’s yet to fully tap into his offensive arsenal. However, Ojeleye is a career 39.4% 3-point shooter and has made 106 of his 285 attempts from beyond the arc since 2019.