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Thursday, October 24, 2013
Practice: Celtics trim roster

By Chris Forsberg

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics moved closer to finalizing their regular-season roster after Wednesday's game as training camp invites Damen Bell-Holter, DeShawn Sims, and Kammron Taylor are no longer with the team.

While Boston hadn't announced the roster cuts before Thursday's practice, the trio will effectively be waived soon with the possibility that each could land with the team's D-League affiliate in Maine as affiliated players. Sims, who had sat out recent games with a left knee injury, departed the team this week to attend the funeral of a friend (Bell-Holter and Taylor learned their fates after Wednesday's game).

Boston's roster is currently at the regular-season maximum of 15.

"Kam and Damon are no longer with us; Everything else is status quo for now," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before explaining Sims' departure. "Among the free agents invited to camp, [Chris] Babb is still obviously here."

Babb, who appeared in five preseason games (tops among the invites), provides an extra body at the swingman spots as Boston navigates these final days of the preseason. With Gerald Wallace sitting out practice after receiving a cortisone shot in his left ankle, Babb can help fill reps before the team breaks for the weekend.

His fate after that?

"We’ll get into that over the weekend and figure that out, but I think at the end of the day, all those guys did a great job while they were here and Babb continues to do a great job for us," said Stevens.

The Celtics have 14 guaranteed contracts for a total value of approximately $71.2 million. The luxury tax line is $71.75 million, which would seemingly give the team a tiny bit of room if it desired to carry a rookie like Babb on a minimum deal to start the season.

Alas, under the new collective bargaining agreement, any free agent signed that makes less than the two-year minimum salary ($884,293) count towards the tax at the two-year rate. That means rookie point guard Phil Pressey, inked to a minimum-contract using a portion of the mid-level exception this summer, is earning only $490,180 this season, but his salary essentially doubles on the tax bill, pushing Boston closer to 71.6 million committed for tax purposes.

The team could seemingly carry Babb temporarily on a minimum-contract deal and waive him before contracts become guaranteed in January, but it leaves very little wiggle room around the tax line for a team that has no desire to pay that bill this season (and instead would prefer to collect a rebate that comes to teams that stay under the line; particularly in a year the Nets are projected to drive up that rebate with their own tax bill).

A handful of quick hits from Thursday's session:

* FILM REVIEW: Stevens' assessment after watching the film from Wednesday's triumph over the Brooklyn Nets: "We were a little bit better defensively than I thought, at times. We weren’t as good at other times. We had some really good individual performances. I thought we helped better than we’ve helped. We forced them into taking some tough shots, a few of which they made, by the way. Tyshawn Taylor made a shot off one foot and Andray Blatche banked in a shot at the end of the half. Some of those are going to go in. You just have to play through that."

* STEVENS CAN WATCH SOX AGAIN: Stevens joked earlier this week that him being asleep helped the Red Sox hit a pair of memorable grand slams as part of their triumph over the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series. But he was wide awake (and coaching) for much of Boston's early offensive barrage during Game 1 of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. "I was awake last night, so you know what we figured out yesterday? It wasn’t me," joked Stevens. "That’s good. That was fun, wasn’t it? That was a great win. Hopefully they can get another one tonight."

* NO GRIEF FOR WYC: Asked if he would bust the chops of Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck for choosing to attend Game 1 of the World Series over watching Boston's preseason game with the Nets, Stevens said he'd let it slide. "You never give your boss grief," he joked.

* FILM REVIEW II: Jared Sullinger stayed in bed Wednesday while battling a stomach bug. Asked what he saw while watching Celtics-Nets from afar, he noted, " I saw a lot of good things. Vitor [Faverani] played great. His defensive presence was awesome and he also finished the ball... Other than that, we played hard, we shared the ball, and we competed. After what Gerald said [about the team's lack of effort Sunday] and how guys responded to that, we could have gone one way or the other. I think we went the right direction."