The Celtics officially announced the signing of guard Brad Wanamaker on Monday, and it turns out they may also be interested in one of his ex-teammates on EuroLeague power Fenerbahce.
A league source told Parquet Post that the Celtics are among the teams that have expressed interest in free agent James Nunnally in an effort to bolster their wing depth. Ten teams — nine playoff organizations and the Clippers — have inquired about the 3-and D specialist’s services.
The Timberwolves and Blazers worked Nunnally out last week, and he met with Rockets GM Daryl Morey in Los Angeles on Sunday. He is scheduled for two more NBA workouts this week.
The 6-foot-7 Nunnally shot 55.4 percent from 3-point range for the EuroLeague runners-up this past season and defended three positions against some of the best players Europe has to offer. Second all-time in EuroLeague 3-point accuracy, he has shot better than 50 percent on exactly 400 attempts from distance for Fenerbahce over the past two years. The dude is a marksman.
Nunnally and Wanamaker — along with old friend Gigi Datome, former lottery pick Jan Vesely, ex-Kings forward Jason Thompson and NBA stretch four target Nicolo Melli — led Fenerbahce to the 2017 EuroLeague title and a 2018 runner-up finish to Luka Doncic’s Real Madrid squad.
Wanamaker, 28, averaged 15.6 points (41.0 FG%), 5.3 assists and 3.6 rebounds per 36 minutes in the EuroLeague this past season. Nunnally, 27, averaged 16.2 points (54.0 FG%), 3.6 boards and 2.3 assists per 36. They both played four years in college (Wanamaker at Pittsburgh and Nunnally at UC Santa Barbara) and spent the better part of the decade honing their skills as role players in the D-League, on NBA summer league rosters and overseas. And both are chasing their NBA dream, looking for a guaranteed deal and an opportunity to play meaningful minutes.
Wanamaker got his shot, signing a two-year minimum contract with the Celtics. And Nunnally is still looking for his. While the C’s seem well-stocked on the wing — with Gordon Hayward returning to the playoff core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris and Semi Ojeleye — a league source told Parquet Post that they are still in the market for a wing shooter. For a team with title aspirations, Nunnally would be a marked upgrade from Abdel Nader, for example.
“You don’t expect a lot of playing time,” the source said of the Celtics. “You’re not going to get it. If you want to be in the league, you take it, but if you want to play, there are better situations.”
I also caught up with Nunnally over the weekend for a Yahoo Sports NBA story on his basketball journey and the hoops undrafted players — particularly Americans — have to jump through to catch the eyes of scouts in Europe. The C’s are among the few teams tapping that resource, with the signings of ex-Bamberg teammates Daniel Theis and Wanamaker these last two years.
“That’s a great pickup for the Celtics,” Nunnally told Parquet Post of Wanamaker, who will almost surely take Shane Larkin’s roster spot. “He’s really solid. He’s not going to turn the ball over. He’s going to play defense. He makes people better around him. He’s really solid.”
Add this from another league source on Wanamaker: “He’s not really a true point guard, but by European parlance he’s arguably the best or just about the best point guard in Europe, and they signed him to be there if Marcus Smart gets a bid and they don’t want to match it.” He’s better than Larkin, the source said, and built like Smart, even if he’s not the same defensive dynamo.