BOSTON — The Celtics and Enes Kanter are facing a travel for next week’s Toronto trip that has become even more acute in light of injuries to the club’s centers.
Rob Williams will be re-evaluated in three weeks for his left hip edema, and Vincent Poirier will undergo surgery Wednesday to help repair a fractured right pinkie suffered in Monday’s practice and is expected to be out approximately six weeks.
Tacko Fall, on a two-way contract, is being called up from G-League Maine for Wednesday’s game in Dallas and at least the near future thereafter. The Celts may try to send him back periodically (at least technically) to limit use of the 45 days he’s allowed to spend in the NBA on such a contract.
Kanter’s status for the Christmas Day game in Toronto remains an unresolved issue. The Turkish government revoked his passport in 2017, accusing him of being part of a terrorist organization for his opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Kanter had still been able to travel to Canada without a passport, but that situation changed when the Turkish government sought an international arrest warrant against him last January. As a result, Kanter, then playing for Portland, did not accompany the Trail Blazers to Toronto after a game in Boston Feb. 27. He skipped the two-point loss to the Raptors and played two days after that in Charlotte.
After Tuesday’s Celtics practice, Kanter was hopeful but unsure of whether he’ll be with the club in Toronto.
“I’m probably going to know 100 percent within a week,” he said. “The Celtics are still working on it. I’m just going to go talk to the front office and see what they do and then go from there. It’s pretty serious. We’ll see what happens.
“With the injuries, too, now, I’ve got to be there.”
Celtics assistant general manager and team counsel Mike Zarren has been handling the matter.
“I know Mike has been working on that for quite a while — a couple of months, maybe even longer than that,” president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Herald. “Mike is in Europe right now, so I don’t know where that stands. We think it’s going to be OK, but I’m just not sure yet.”
As for needing Kanter more because of the injuries to others, Ainge said, “Regardless of who’s healthy, we want him there.”
Of his big man corps, he said, “I would just characterize it as thin. We have four centers on the roster, including five with Tacko, and we’re down to three. It’s that simple. If we lose any more, we’re going to have to play power forwards at center. We’ll see more Semi and Grant Williams at center. We may play Jayson Tatum at center — or Marcus Smart. Marcus is always our savior at center.”
But Smart, too, is out. He’s missing the trip to his home area of Dallas because of infections in both eyes.
Fall was scheduled to play for the Red Claws in the G-League Showcase in Las Vegas Thursday, but he may be with the Celtics for an extended stretch.
“We’ll just play it by ear, but he’ll be in Dallas and back home after Dallas for our game on Friday (vs. Detroit),” said Ainge. “Then we’ll just take it week by week and see what’s happening.”
Poirier’s injury comes at a particularly inopportune time, in that the 26-year-old rookie had done well when given a chance to play in Maine recently, and could have made his case for a bigger role with the Celtics.
“It’s too bad,” said Brad Stevens. “He was really doing well, and I think obviously with Rob out (was) going to get a chance here.”
Poirier explained that the injury occurred while going for a rebound in Monday’s workout.
“I was fighting with (Daniel) Theis,” he said. “With the elbow, he came down and broke my finger.
“I know something went wrong because I heard a little crack. It never happened to me before so I was like, ‘Something’s bad.’ When I came back on the court, I carried the ball and I knew it was broken.”
Williams has missed the past three games with the hip problem, but it was deemed a day-to-day issue until further examination revealed the edema and necessitated a longer timeline.
The second year center said he couldn’t recall a specific trauma that caused the injury.
“You know, just pounding on the court, falling on my hip, I guess, all the time, minor injuries to it,” he said. “(It’s) obviously a setback. Being out of shape is not fun at all. I hate that. But, like I said, it’s just a little setback. It’s just terrible I can’t be out there with the team.
“I’m new to it,” he added later, “but I’m trying to talk to the vets. I talked to Gordon (Hayward) a little bit, asked him a couple of questions to see how he got through his injury.”
Hayward’s message, according to Williams: “Just stay close to the activity. Just being able to see these guys, even if I can’t practice with them. Being around them all the time, always in the weight room. Just get you to the goal you’re reaching for.”
Asked what he will do now that he’ll have quite a bit of time on his hands, Williams said, “I don’t know man. Fortnite, Call of Duty, 2K or something. I don’t know.”
Meanwhile, Stevens will have to figure out what to do with the big man shortage and not having his core five (Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Tatum, Smart) entirely intact.
The Celtics are coming off a five-game layoff, but now face three games in five days.
“I hate to say this, but I think we’re used to it here,” the coach said. “It’s just the way it’s been. I hope that we can have those guys together as the season continues on. Smart’s thing’s not a long-term thing, but all these guys, you know, we just play with who’s available and try to be the best we can be.
“It offers more opportunity for other guys at that position, which I think is important, so that when we do have a full slate of guys, everybody’s a little bit better and has a little bit more experience.”