The Celtics signed 24-year-old center Neemias Queta to a two-way contract, rounding out the three deals that allow J.D. Davison, Jay Scrubb and Queta to play between the G-League in Maine and the pros. Two way contracts pay $559,782, half of the rookie minimum, and can only be offered to players within the first four seasons of their careers.
Queta arrives as a native of Portugal into his third NBA season after the Kings drafted him No. 39 overall out of Utah State in 2021. He’s only played in 20 professional games so far, spending most of his time in the G-League with the Stockton Kings where he emerged as an efficient finisher, solid rebounder and shot-blocker averaging 16.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.9 blocks per game while hitting 70.6% of his two-pointers. The Kings waived Queta after signing him to a two-year, $4.2 million with only $250,000 guaranteed in August. JaVale McGee became available after Dallas waived-and-stretched him, clearing him to join the Kings and replace Queta.
His arrival in Boston comes with some intrigue given the numerous two-way opportunities available across the league since the addition of the third slot for this season. The Celtics used their two-way players sparingly since the creation of the contract, whether Tacko Fall, Tremont Waters, Brodric Thomas, Matt Ryan, Mfiondu Kabenegele or Davison in recent seasons. Those players can participate in up to 50 NBA games and can collectively fill 90 active roster appearances over the course of the NBA season now without the cap hit a standard contract would inflict. That’s not easy to pull off, but teams like the Heat do so effectively in ways that would benefit Boston.
Kristaps Porziņģis, Al Horford and Robert Williams III will inevitably fill most of the Celtics’ front court minutes alongside their many forwards this year, leaving Queta in Maine. Luke Kornet also proved able to eat regular season minutes in most matchups last season. Injuries, rest nights, still allowed for Boston’s big men under new NBA rules and the likely loss of Blake Griffin left the need for a fifth depth big man to potentially steal a few minutes during the regular season. Adding a developing seven-footer in that role nudges the Celtics closer to the draft-and-development path at the bottom of the roster that started with drafting Jordan Walsh in June.
Queta needs more development to make an impact on the pro Celtics this year. His flashes of vision while facing-up likely intrigued Boston, Queta participating in Summer League in July and posting 35 points, 33 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and six blocks in four games while shooting 53.8%. He fared better overall in the previous summer with 12.6 PPG on 60.3% shooting. Queta doesn’t shoot and struggles with free throws, but improved to 80.3% at the line on 66 attempts last regular season. His position gives him a better chance than Davison and Scrubb of getting called up on any given night. Kornet enters training camp on a non-guaranteed contract.
Born in Lisbon to Bissau-Guinean parents, Queta became the first NBA player from Portugal after picking up the sport at 10 then developing with F.C. Barreirense and Benfica before committing to Utah State as his only college offer. He twice set the program blocks record, and finished his junior year as a finalist for the national defensive player of the year award. Likely to drop in Boston, he played some defense up to the touch, but at 7-0, 250 pounds he’s best utilized defending around the rim. His arrival will likely relegate Taylor Funk and DJ Steward to the G-League roster.
Boston sits at 19 out of the maximum of 21 players on the offseason roster. The Celtics’ 15th standard contract remains open and can into the regular season.