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Neemias Queta Hasn’t Had Contract Discussions with Celtics Before Playoffs

ATLANTA — Neemias Queta and the Celtics have not engaged in discussions about converting his two-way contract to a standard one, he told CLNS Media on Tuesday. Boston activated him for his 47th NBA game on Saturday against the Bulls, leaving three remaining this season before he becomes ineligible for the playoffs.

“I’m just doing my job,” Queta said. “If it comes down to it and they want to give me the contract, it’s cool. If they don’t want to give it to me, I can live with it. I’m doing what was expected during the year and that’s where we’re at.”

Queta joined the Maine Celtics for only the sixth time this year for the first of two games he’s expected to play at College Park while Boston also plays in Atlanta this week. He scored 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting, grabbing nine rebounds while posting three assists and three blocks in an important win for a 20-12 Maine team chasing a first round bye. Brad StevensJeff Van GundySam HauserJrue Holiday and other Boston teammates and coaches attended Tuesday’s 127-112 win.

Maine plays again on Thursday opposite of Boston at College Park before finishing the season on Saturday at Texas. The NBA Celtics travel to New Orleans that night before finishing the road trip at Charlotte on Monday.

That stretch marks a busier travel swing than Queta experienced for most of the season, becoming a Boston regular in the fall even while inactive and injured. The Celtics dealt with injuries to Kristaps Porzingis and Luke Kornet, rested Al Horford often and without Grant Williams in the front court, ample playing time emerged for Queta. Boston won nine out of 10 games in late November into December where he averaged 16.3 minutes, 5.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. A five-game run between January and February saw him post 6.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 1.2 BPG on 75% FG over 11.8 MPG.

“It’s definitely been a great year for me,” Queta said. “Being able to learn with some of the best players in the league and the best team in the league right now. It’s definitely helped me getting to be a more consistent player, getting to develop every day. I’ve been grateful for that and at the same time, we just want to keep it going.”

Queta feels good as March concludes after what he described as several health scares early in the season. He didn’t appear in a game until Nov. 19, missing Boston’s 12 games with what he described as an aggravation of a stress fracture in his right foot that ended his Summer League last July with Sacramento. The Kings went on to waive Queta in September to make room for veteran center JaVale McGee to sign following his release from Dallas. The Celtics landed Queta three days later to some surprise without much competition around the league.

Joe Mazzulla began describing Queta alongside rebounding forward Oshae Brissett as emerging into his circle of trust earlier this winter. Then, the Celtics traded for Xavier Tillman Sr., who became the team’s new depth big after the deadline. He also dealt with health issues upon arrival, namely swelling in his left knee that’s occurred throughout his career that landed him back on the injury report for the first time in weeks on Monday.

That could open minutes for Queta late, but with only three out of the final 10 games to choose from. Two-way players can only suit up for 50 NBA games, and the Celtics used them liberally to both play him and have him available as insurance across this year’s opening months. JD Davison and Drew Peterson combined to activate only 17 times combined.

Boston maintains an open roster spot, and can make Queta playoff-eligible by converting him to a standard contract before Apr. 14, the final day of the regular season. For now, he’s speaking in part like a member of the Maine Celtics, prepared to bolster their postseason run instead. Queta will become a restricted free agent this summer if he’s not converted.

“It might be a time where I come with Boston,” Queta said. “But hopefully I can keep playing, being able to help the team here in Maine. The next two games, I want to help the team on that end. We’ll see after that. You never really know. A lot of things can happen. A lot of things can change. You’ve gotta keep your mind open when it comes to that.”

Bobby Manning

Boston Celtics beat reporter for CLNS Media and host of the Garden Report Celtics Post Game Show. NBA national columnist for Boston Sports Journal. Contributor to SB Nation's CelticsBlog. Host of the Dome Theory Sports and Culture Podcast on CLNS. Syracuse University 2020.

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