Can Neemias Queta carve out an emergency role in Boston? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Celtics will reportedly fill their last available two-way slot by signing 24-year-old big man Neemias Queta in advance of training camp.
The 7-foot Queta adds emergency center depth while allowing the Celtics to maintain an open slot on their 15-man roster. The big question: Can Queta earn the trust of the coaching staff and carve out a role as a potential deep depth option when other bigs rest over the course of an 82-game season?
Last season, the Celtics signed Mfiondu Kabengele to a two-way slot, but even with their big-man depth often eroded, Kabengele played only 36 total minutes in four NBA appearances.
Minutes for a depth big could still be hard to come by this season. Last year, the Celtics started the season with Robert Williams III and Danilo Gallinari both sidelined by surgeries, and Luke Kornet got dinged up in training camp. Boston, with the help of roster bigs Noah Vonleh and Blake Griffin, were able to fill minutes. Kabengele made just one appearance over Boston’s first 47 games of last season.
In Queta, the Celtics get an athletic 7-footer who likes to finish above the rim and brings a defensive presence. He has appeared in only 20 NBA games, including just five last season for Sacramento. But the former second-round pick (39th overall in 2021 out of Utah State) shined in the G-League last season while averaging 16.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks over 27.6 minutes per game in 29 appearances for Stockton.
Queta topped the G-League in field goal percentage and finished fourth in blocks per game. He placed second in G-League MVP voting behind Bulls guard Carlik Jones, while also landing on the G-League All-NBA and All-Defense teams.
The Portugal-born big man was waived by the Kings last week.
While the Celtics have durability questions at the center spot given the injury histories of Williams III and newly added Kristaps Porzingis, along with the advanced age of Al Horford, the team is positioned this year to balance the workload of their big men. Still, Queta should get plenty of reps in training camp, which could allow him to start earning the trust of the coaching staff.
Ultimately, Boston is adding a young 7-footer who has only scratched the surface of his potential. Watch any highlight mix and you’ll find him sprinting the floor, blocking shots, and finishing with both hands around the basket. It’s easy to see how he was a fan favorite in Sacramento.
The Celtics will get a chance to further develop him, particularly with a need for low-cost talent on the back end of an expensive roster. Being able to add Queta to the mix while preserving a spot on the 15-man roster maintains maximum flexibility for a team that could very likely have some in-season maneuvering based on health and needs.