BOSTON – Tacko Fall is no freak show, no carnival act, and not just in town to perform a Vegas lounge routine when Summer League begins this weekend. The 7-foot, 6-inch, 310-pound behemoth with the Size 22 shoe made it be known during his first media availability at Auerbach Center that he plans to be back in Boston to compete for a roster spot in the fall, and intends to be much more than a curiosity case in his NBA career.
“A lot of people haven’t had the opportunity to see me up close,” he said Monday in response to being told Celtics coaches were surprised at his mobility during Summer League practices. “Maybe they’ve seen me on TV here and there. I feel it’s a different experience once you see me live going up and down. I have worked a lot on my body, my conditioning. There are a lot of things I’ve learned in the offseason that have helped me improve.”
There is a giant void in the middle for a Celtics team that is suddenly loaded with past, present and perhaps future All-Stars at the guard and wing positions after snagging All-NBA player Kemba Walker on a max free agent deal on Sunday, but looking at a dearth of legitimate big men even after Monday’s agreement with veteran Enes Kanter. Fall said he is hoping to be the one to fill every inch of it as he turned heads and strained necks at practice.
“Somewhere I can go and fit in right away,” Fall said of his criteria for signing an Exhibit 10 contract with the Celtics as an undrafted free agent. “Somewhere I know they really wanted me. And I feel like I had all of that here in Boston.”
And Time Lord is on his side. (Yes he is, Mick)
“I’ve loved it since we’ve gotten Tacko here, man,” said the 6-foot-9 Robert Williams after giving up nine inches to an opponent for the first time in his life. “Great player to go against. I’ll accept him blocking my shot, if anybody. Can’t run from 7-6.”
The fascination with Bol Bol was inescapable on Draft Night. Every time a Celtic pick came up on deck – from 14, to 20, to 22, to 24, to 33 – the buzz was that maybe they would take a chance on literally one of the biggest boom-or-bust picks of the night on the 7-foot-2, 236-pounder out of Oregon. When Bol was finally scooped up at No. 44 of the second round – seven picks ahead of where Boston took Tremont Waters with its last pick of the night – the dream of adding a unique big man appeared to die.
Yet, while Bol may have trouble with guarding any position in the NBA due to his slight frame for his size, Fall could find a role as more of a “Rim Eclipser” than “Rim Protector” with his all-encompassing frame and sneaky modicum of athleticism.
“There’s no one at his size in the NBA,” Celtics Summer League coach Scott Morrison said, “so it’s hard to determine if he has a certain skill set. But much like any of the above-the-rim-type bigs, who aren’t necessarily skilled on the perimeter, he’s going to have to really learn how to roll quick, get out on screens quick, maybe faster than his actual foot speed is – angles, timing, things like that.
“When he’s not actually screening-and-rolling, playing the dunker below the baseline, just learning how to play off penetration, how to stay low so he’s ready for a pass high and pass low. Then the next thing would be his finishing around the rim.”
Morrison also revealed Fall “beat some guys down the floor, caught the ball at the rim, put the ball up and dunked it” during the late-workout scrimmage on Monday.
The Celtics certainly did not find their Al Horford or Aron Baynes replacement in the American All-Conference Third Team selection. They may not have even found a player who will find his way to Portland, Maine next fall, let alone TD Garden.
But they found someone worth watching in Sin City next week. And not just in the Circus Circus sort of way. They have found someone who believes he will earn a home in the NBA – and would very much like that to be in Boston.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Fall said. “I have to come and prove every day that deserve to be here. That’s what I’m going to do.”