What does Neemias Queta's new contract mean for Xavier Tillman's and Luke Kornet's future with the Boston Celtics?

The Celtics have signed Queta to a multi-year contract, but with him now locked up, does that mean Tillman's and Kornet's time with Boston is up?
Orlando Magic v Boston Celtics
Orlando Magic v Boston Celtics / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

Throughout the season, many wondered who the Boston Celtics would use their 15th and final roster spot on. The world got their answer when they converted Neemias Queta to a standard contract. This means that Queta will be playoff eligible, and, per MassLive's Brian Robb, he will be with the team for multiple years.

Honestly, there's not too much to hate about keeping Queta long-term on the cheap. In addition to ensuring that an Isaiah Thomas reunion won't happen in Boston, the Portuguese center showed promise in his limited time with the Celtics - not an All-Star-type promise, but an energy backup center-type promise.

Following the acquisition of Xavier Tillman, Queta has not seen much floor time over the past two months, having played four games in total. Understandably, Tillman's higher up on the pecking order. However, the Celtics converting Queta's two-way contract into a standard one leaves one question remaining: what does this mean for Tillman's and Luke Kornet's futures with the Celtics?

One would typically ask why the Celtics would want five pure centers on their roster, and then they'd remember that their top two centers - Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford - as talented as they are, have enough justifiable concerns on paper that the more NBA-caliber centers on the roster, the merrier.

However, it wouldn't be too crazy to suggest that players like Kornet and Tillman want to play consistent minutes and not to have share minutes with one another when the team is at full strength. Adding Queta into the mix may turn them off to potentially returning for another year. In fact, ensuring his future with the team could mean one or both are out after this summer. If it comes to that, who would be their preference?

If they had to pick one, who would Boston Celtics realistically choose between Xavier Tillman and Luke Kornet?

For what it's worth, both Kornet and Tillman have endeared themselves to Celtics fans in their time with Boston. Kornet's NBA career was hanging by a thread when Brad Stevens brought him back. Over the years, he's gone from the end of the bench to fill in big man to legitimate backup center. If that's not enough, he's putting up some of his best numbers as a Celtic. Good enough that it's now become a certainty that he'll have a market this coming offseason. Since the Celtics are a second-tax apron team, it wouldn't be too hard for a suitor to get him at a price too expensive for Boston.

Even if he flops with his next team, Kornet would at least give them their money's worth in corny celebrations. Or should I say, "Korny" celebrations?

(Yeah I'll see myself out.)

While winning over fans has taken its sweet time for Kornet, Tillman took no time at all—so much so that a certain someone believes he may be Al Horford's replacement. Tillman is a player only the pure basketball junkies paid attention to. He fell under the radar because he spent a good chunk of the 2023-24 season on one of the most unlucky Grizzlies teams ever. But even if he hasn't become the three-point shooter the Celtics have hoped he would (yet),his effective field goal percentage went from 43.7% to 54.3%, so it's clear how much he's benefited from the personnel around him.

The difference between Kornet and Tillman is that the Celtics will have Tillman's Bird Rights, which always gives teams the inside track in free agency. Tillman would be the easier one to retain because the Celtics can offer him whatever they want compared to Kornet. That doesn't necessarily mean they will keep the X-Man over The Green Kornet, but it wouldn't be shocking if they did.

Getting back to Queta, the Celtics didn't convert his contract merely as a formality. Again, he showed promise when the Celtics gave him playing time while undermanned. He's definitely a raw prospect whose game has some warts, but with the appropriate time and development, he may make it so that even if Boston loses both Kornet and Tillman, they may not have much to fret about.

The Tillman/Kornet topic had already been up for debate from the moment the Celtics acquired the former at the trade deadline. Converting Queta only stirred the pot even more. At least Boston can head into the offseason knowing they won't enter next season completely devoid on options.