|Examining the Celtics’ buyout options||02.27.11 at 4:55 pm ET|
In the year and a half since Leon Powe left Boston after the 2009 season, he has played just 34 games. He also has not played in a game since Jan. 5. But Powe is available after he was waived by the Cavaliers and that’s enough to put him on the Celtics’ radar screen as they look to fill two, and possibly three, roster spots before the playoffs.
The Celtics currently have 13 players on the roster counting Chris Johnson, whom they signed to a 10-day contract out of the D-League. In the wake of the trades that sent Semih Erden, Luke Harangody and Marquis Daniels out of town, team president Danny Ainge finally has the flexibility to add more pieces.
“We’d like to add someone at each position,” Ainge said in an interview with WEEI. “A wing player, either a great shooter or a defender, not both. We’d like to shore up our frontline. We would probably look for another guard, but that’s probably the least of it.”
Here’s how the roster looks as of Sunday night:
PG: Rajon Rondo, Delonte West, Avery Bradley
SG: Ray Allen, Von Wafer
SF: Paul Pierce, Jeff Green
PF: Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis
C: Nenad Krstic, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Johnson, Jermaine O’Neal
(Note: Johnson is on a 10-day contract. The Celtics have the option of signing him to another 10-day contract when this one runs out. Then they would have to decide whether to sign him for the rest of the year.)
The issue for the Celtics right now is the limited number of players who might be available. To be eligible for someone’s postseason roster, players under contract must be waived before Tuesday, March 1. They can sign any time after that, but as Tuesday’s deadline draws near, the pool continues to shrink, not expand.
The Bobcats apparently plan to keep center Joel Przybilla. Jared Jeffries was bought out by the Rockets, but he is expected to go back to New York. You can forget about any Marcus Camby dreams and Sam Dalembert is staying with the Kings.
UPDATE: Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported Sunday night that the Clippers have reached a buyout with Rasual Butler. According to Spears, his list of teams includes the Celtics.
Then there’s the strange saga of Rip Hamilton. According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Hamilton nixed a trade that would have sent him to Cleveland and then declined overtures on a buyout, while also orchestrating an embarrassing boycott of coach John Kuester, with whom he has been feuding.
The real prize in the buyout season is Troy Murphy, who has reportedly worked out a buyout with the Warriors as of late Sunday. Murphy will be the most coveted name available, with the Celtics competing with Miami for his services. It says something about the shallow pool of talent available that a player who has seen action in just 18 games and logged less than 300 minutes this season will be that in demand.
Which brings us back to Powe. He’s 27 years old with bad knees, but again, he’s available. Powe is still beloved in the locker room and he’s obviously familiar with Doc Rivers‘ system. Even in limited minutes, he’s shown flashes. He also may be one of the few legitimate options. Murphy and Powe are the two best big man options and acquiring one, if not both, will be the Celtics’ biggest priority.
Here’s a look at some other players who may interest the Celtics.
Rasual Butler (Clippers): In a reversal, the Clipper have reached a buyout with Butler, which moves him to the top of this list. Butler averaged 12 points a game game with the Clippers last season, but had fallen out of the team’s rotation. The 6-foot-7 Butler has played almost 600 games in his career and is a career 36 percent 3-point shooter.
Jason Kapono (Philadelphia): Kapono can do one thing: shoot 3′s, but he hasn’t even done that for the Sixers this year. He’s played in 18 games and seen less than 100 minutes of court time. While Kapono isn’t in Philly’s short- or long-term plans, there’s a growing feeling that the Sixers may hold on to him rather than let him sign with a potential playoff opponent.
Sasha Pavlovic (Free agent): The one-time Celtic has passed through Dallas and New Orleans on 10-day contracts, but didn’t stick in either spot. He played 71 games with the Timberwolves, last season where he shot 36 percent from the floor and less than 30 percent from beyond the arc. The best things you can say about Pavlovic are that he has playoff experience and is very available.
Morris Peterson (Charlotte): Once upon a time, Mo Pete averaged 17 points a game for the Raptors, but that was several lifetimes ago. His shooting percentages have dropped off dramatically and he played in just four games for Oklahoma City this season. Peterson was traded at the deadline and the Bobcats intend to buy him out.
Corey Brewer (New York): This is a longshot, but if the Knicks sign Jeffries as expected then someone will have to go from a group that also includes Renaldo Balkman and Anthony Carter to make room for him. Brewer is a bad offensive player, but he does have value as an athletic wing defender.
UPDATE: It seems the Knicks will buyout Brewer for the purpose of putting him on waivers. ESPN’s Marc Stein reported Monday afternoon that the Celtics will be among the teams interested in signing Brewer if he passes through waivers.
Good luck finding anyone here. With Przybilla out of the mix and Jeffries reportedly heading to the Knicks, the options are down to Murphy, Powe and possibly Dan Gadzuric, who was part of the trade that sent Murphy to Golden State. But Gadzuric has already suited up for New Jersey and played for the Nets after being obtained for Murphy from Golden State. He’s a big body. Nothing more.
If anyone unexpectedly comes on the market, they won’t last long.
This is not an area of need, yet. But considering the injury history of Delonte West, Ainge could keep one of his roster spots open in case anything happens here. T.J. Ford and Mike Bibby are candidates to get bought out, with Portland and Miami expected to make a run at Ford. Bibby could be an intriguing player, given his ability to make open 3-pointers.
More likely, the Celtics would be looking at a number of backup-level point guards to serve as insurance behind Rondo and West.