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Celtics’ free agent options at backup power forward

08.25.11 at 3:06 pm ET
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We’€™re almost two months into the NBA lockout, and more progress has been made on the crippled U.S. economy than the collective bargaining agreement negotiations, but that doesn’€™t mean we can’€™t still examine the likely free agents available to the Celtics for the (fingers crossed) 2011-12 season once commissioner David Stern and players association executive director Billy Hunter kiss and make up.

We’€™ve profiled the C’€™s biggest needs – at center and shooting guard — as well as two other critical positions (backup point guards and small forwards), so we move to the final piece of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge‘€™s puzzle: Backup Power Forwards.

The Celtics started this past season with a surefire Hall of Fame four in Kevin Garnett, and backed him up with a Sixth Man of the Year candidate in Glen Davis. The C’€™s version of assistant to the assistant regional manager rotated from Luke Harangody to ‘€œWe Hardly Knew Ye’€ Chris Johnson to Troy Murphy, with a dabble of Jeff Green, who played the four for the Thunder but is more suited to the three on the Celtics. Got all that? Good.

As we’€™ve noted  before, the Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Garnett, $21.2 million; Paul Pierce, $15.33 million; Ray Allen, $10 million; Rajon Rondo, $10 million; Jermaine O’€™Neal, $6.23 million; Avery Bradley, $1.53 million), and should match any offer Green receives — unless another team far exceeds his qualifying offer of $5.9 million.

Davis and Murphy are free agents, and while they might sound like a buddy cop duo from Dublin, they’€™re actually both pretty darn good for second and third options at the four. The addition of first-round pick JaJuan Johnson — a 6-foot-10 senior power forward out of Purdue — likely makes a Murphy-type expendable. But even with Garnett, Green and Johnson expected to be on the 2011-12 roster, the Celtics should seek one more power forward option, in case Johnson isn’€™t ready and to leave Green on the wing.

Without further ado, let’€™s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at backup power forward (barring overseas exports), separating the current free agent players into four categories and forgetting about David West, because that ain’€™t happening ‘€¦

THE GLEN DAVISES

Big Baby is an enigma, and these guys are, too. They might take a charge, make an unlikely jump shot, grab more rebounds than they should for an undersized power forward or none of the above. Either way, on their good days, they can help limit the minutes on Garnett’€™s aging knees ‘€¦

KARDASHIAN MAN: KRIS HUMPHRIES

  • Status: Unrestricted
  • 2010-11 averages (74 games): 27.9 MIN, 10.0 PTS, 10.4 REB, 1.1 BLK, 52.7 FG%, 66.5 FT%
  • Why? He’€™s married to Kim Kardashian. Of all the players who played fewer than 30 minutes last season, nobody had more double-doubles than Humphries. His rebounding rate (22.2) places him fifth in the NBA, just ahead of Dwight Howard. Plus, did we mention he’€™s married to Kim Kardashian?
  • Why not? In six seasons prior to last year, Humphries owned a career 43.8 field goal percentage — as a low-post scorer. Then, there’€™s the rumored history from when Humphries played as a Minnesota high school star in a summer league against then-Timberwolf Garnett. Plus, you know once Kris Jenner is involved, Humphries will be seeking big money and big minutes — and KG won’€™t have that.

RICH MAN: KENYON MARTIN

  • Status: Unrestricted
  • 2010-11 averages (48 games): 25.7 MIN, 8.6 PTS, 6.2 REB, 2.3 AST, 51.1 FG%, 58.3 FT%
  • Why? While he never really lived up to his billing as the NBA’€™s No. 1 overall pick in 2000, Martin has been a tough motherbleeper when healthy, especially defensively and around the rim offensively.
  • Why not? Other than the fact that Martin has only played more than 70 games in just two of his 11 seasons, he’€™s never been a great shooter outside of three feet (from the field or the stripe).

COMMON MAN: CARL LANDRY

  • Status: Unrestricted
  • 2010-11 averages (65 games): 26.4 MIN, 11.9 PTS, 4.6 REB, 0.8 AST, 50.2 FG%, 74.0 FT%
  • Why? Landry can score, to the tune of a 60 percent career true shooting mark. In 52 games for the Rockets in 2009-10, Landry emerged as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate with averages of 16.1 points and 5.5 rebounds before being traded twice over his next 81 games.
  • Why not? Considering he openly pined for Portland already this summer, even though they already have LaMarcus Aldridge, I’€™m going to go ahead and say Landry isn’€™t the brightest bulb. Offensively, he’€™s a black hole in the post (4.96 assist ratio), and defensively he turns average opponents into supernovas.

POOR MAN: CHUCK HAYES

  • Status: Unrestricted
  • 2010-11 averages (74 games): 28.1 MIN, 7.9 PTS, 8.1 REB, 2.7 AST, 52.7 FG%, 66.2 FT%
  • Why? Like Big Baby, Hayes is a strong, undersized post with a passion for charges. Unlike Davis, he’€™s more of a defensive rebounder (20.7 DRR) than an offensive threat (35 FG% from beyond 3 feet).
  • Why not? Playing in his contract year, Hayes (just 6-foot-6) recorded career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. While he also played more minutes than ever before, his spike in statistics makes you wonder: Will he revert to the 1.3 points per game scorer he was in 2008-09?

POORER MAN: CHRIS WILCOX

  • Status: Unrestricted
  • 2010-11 averages (57 games): 17.5 MIN, 7.4 PTS, 4.8 REB, 0.8 AST, 58.1 FG%, 56.2 FT%
  • Why? Wilcox’€™s rebounding rate has steadily climbed during his eight seasons, even though his minutes have declined. He also runs on dunking (off pick and rolls), making 70 percent of his shots at the rim.
  • Why not? The further Wilcox gets from his own basket, the worse he gets: no range (35 FG% from beyond 3 feet), poor ball-handling (19.6 turnover rate in 2009-10) and absent-minded defense (0.86 combined blocks/steals/charges per game).

BIONIC MAN: LEON POWE

  • Status: Unrestricted
  • 2010-11 averages (30 games): 10.9 MIN, 5.3 PTS, 2.1 REB, 0.3 STL, 49.6 FG%, 55.6 FT%
  • Why? A Celtics fan favorite for his remarkable road to the NBA and performance in Game 2 of the 2008 NBA Finals, Powe has a knack for three things: scoring around the rim, drawing fouls and taking charges.
  • Why not? Powe’€™s knees are in worse shape than Jake Taylor’€™s in ‘€œMajor League,’€ missing 114 games over the last two seasons. He can also be foul-happy on defense (5.5 fouls per 36 minutes for his career).

BIZARRO MAN: REGGIE EVANS

  • Status: Unrestricted
  • 2010-11 averages (30 games): 26.6 MIN, 4.4 PTS, 11.5 REB, 1.3 AST, 40.8 FG%, 54.5 FT%
  • Why? Quite simply, Evans dominates the glass. His rebounding rate of 25.7 percent ranked him first in the league. That’€™s as good or better than 10 of Dennis Rodman‘€™s 14 seasons. Remarkable, really.
  • Why not? Recently asked who the dirtiest player in the league is, Aldridge cited Evans. I guess that’€™s Ok, since he also named Garnett the NBA’€™s biggest trash talker. Garnett-Evans might make a fun power forward tandem, if the latter could shoot, stop fouling or take care of the ball.

THE JEFF GREENS

Relatively established but still fairly young, like Green, they have shown (few) flashes of brilliance and (some) potential as reliable combo forwards in an NBA rotation , giving Doc Rivers versatility off the bench ‘€¦

COMMON MAN: ANDREI KIRILENKO

  • Status: Unrestricted
  • 2010-11 averages (64 games): 31.2 MIN, 11.7 PTS, 5.1 REB, 3.0 AST, 46.7 FG%, 36.7 3P%, 77.0 FT%
  • Why? Kirilenko is a fantasy freak. He can score, rebound, pass, block and defend (career averages of 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.4 steals), thanks to a 7-foot-4 wingspan.
  • Why not? At 6-foot-9, 235 pounds, Kirilenko is a skinny power forward, which explains his injury history (fewer than 70 games in the last three seasons). He’€™s also made returning to the Jazz his top priority.

POOR MAN: LUC RICHARD MBAH A MOUTE

  • Status: Restricted ($1.1 million qualifying offer)
  • 2010-11 averages (79 games): 26.5 MIN, 6.7 PTS, 5.3 REB, 0.9 AST, 46.3 FG%, 70.7 FT%
  • Why? His consistent career averages of 6.7 points and 5.6 rebounds won’€™t wow anybody, but that’€™s not where Mbah a Moute shines. He’€™s a versatile shutdown defender whose motor and athleticism allows him to guard anywhere from point guard to power forward. Plus, his name is fun to say (BAH ah MOO-tay).
  • Why not? Among the 79 forwards who played at least 25 minutes per game this past season, Mbah a Moute ranked ninth from the bottom in player efficiency rating — probably because he can’€™t shoot.

POORER MAN: JONAS JEREBKO

  • Status: Restricted ($1.1 million qualifying offer)
  • 2010-11 averages (0 games): DNP
  • Why? A high-energy player on both ends of the floor, Jerebko started 73 of his 80 games as a rookie in 2009-10, producing impressive averages of 9.3 points (48.1 FG%, 31.3 3P%, 71.0 FT%) and 6.0 boards.
  • Why not? Jerebko’€™s Achilles heel is, well, a ruptured Achilles heel he suffered this past preseason, costing him the entire 2010-11 season. That’€™s the recipe to make a sophomore slump even slumpier.

POOREST MAN: YI JIANLIAN

  • Status: Unrestricted
  • 2010-11 averages (63 games): 17.7 MIN, 5.6 PTS, 3.9 REB, 0.5 BLK, 41.8 FG%, 23.1 3P%, 68.1 FT%
  • Why? He’€™s a mobile 7-footer with a decent jump shot, especially when facing a chair. And that’€™s about it.
  • Why not? If you think Kirilenko needs to work on his strength, wait until you get a load of Yi. His defense and rebounding have always needed work, and his offense slipped to a career worst — for the Wizards.

THE TROY MURPHYS

Big bodies who can more often be found around the 3-point line than banging underneath, like Murphy, these guys might add value to the Celtics roster — as nothing more than the last big man off the bench ‘€¦

RICH MAN: JOSH McROBERTS

  • Status: Unrestricted
  • 2010-11 averages (72 games): 22.2 MIN, 7.4 PTS, 5.3 REB, 2.1 AST, 54.7 FG%, 38.3 3P%, 73.9 FT%
  • Why? Not only can McRoberts handle the ball and facilitate (fifth-best assist rate among power forwards), he proved productive at the rim (68.8%), from mid-range (40.0%) and beyond the arc (38.3%).
  • Why not? Perhaps as a result of past conditioning issues, McBobs hasn’€™t proved himself on the defensive end (0.91 PPP against) or on the glass (13.3 rebound rate) in four seasons. Plus, his career marks across the statistical board in a contract year is a warning sign (a la Hayes).

POOR MAN: BRIAN CARDINAL

  • Status: Unrestricted
  • 2010-11 averages (56 games): 10.8 MIN, 2.6 PTS, 1.1 REB, 0.7 AST, 43.0 FG%, 48.3 3P%, 94.4 FT%
  • Why? A 3-point specialist for the world champion Mavericks whose effort surpasses his talent, he’€™s the Western Conference’€™s answer to Brian Scalabrine, and he’€™s nicknamed The Custodian.
  • Why not? A 3-point specialist for the world champion Mavericks whose effort surpasses his talent, he’€™s the Western Conference’€™s answer to Brian Scalabrine, and he’€™s nicknamed The Custodian.

POORER MAN: BRIAN SCALABRINE

  • Status: Unrestricted
  • 2010-11 averages (18 games): 4.9 MIN, 1.1 PTS, 0.4 REB, 0.3 AST, 52.6 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 0.0 FT%
  • Why? Really? You need a reason why? He’€™s Brian Effin’€™ Scalabrine, the Real Deal Veal. Plus, he’€™s the greatest teammate in the history of the NBA and essentially another coach on the floor ‘€¦ er, the bench.
  • Why not? If the Celtics really wanted to keep Scalabrine around, they could’€™ve had him for the veteran minimum last year, instead of letting him go to the Bulls. Plus, Veal might fittingly sign in Italy.

THE CHRIS JOHNSONS

Either not worth the asking price or not worth any price, like Johnson, these guys are a dime a dozen and wouldn’€™t be much of an upgrade over anybody at the league minimum (NOTE: Cunningham might be an exception, but he’€™s not worth getting into a bidding war with the Blazers). Thanks, but no thanks ‘€¦

  • Dante Cunningham* (78 games: 16.6 MIN, 6.2 PTS, 3.6 REB, 0.7 STL, 46.2 FG%, 72.6 FT%)
  • Craig Smith (48 games: 12.2 MIN, 5.4 PTS, 2.4 REB, 0.6 AST, 55.3 FG%, 73.5 FT%)
  • Shelden Williams (59 games: 15.4 MIN, 4.5 PTS, 4.6 REB, 0.5 AST, 46.8 FG%, 77.3 FT%)
  • Joey Dorsey (43 games: 12.1 MIN, 3.1 PTS, 4.4 REB, 0.6AST, 52.5 FG%, 47.7 FT%)
  • Jason Smith (77 games: 14.3 MIN, 4.3 PTS, 3.1 REB, 0.5 AST, 44.3 FG%, 84.3 FT%)
  • Brandan Wright (37 games: 10.2 MIN, 3.8 PTS, 2.4 REB, 0.5 BLK, 51.3 FG%, 67.7 FT%)
  • Jared Jeffries (42 games: 14.3 MIN, 1.8 PTS, 2.8 REB, 0.9 AST, 34.9 FG%, 41.4 FT%)
  • Solomon Jones (39 games: 13.5 MIN, 3.6 PTS, 2.9 REB, 0.8 AST, 40.5 FG%, 66.1 FT%)
  • Juwan Howard (57 games: 10.4 MIN, 2.4 PTS, 2.1 REB, 0.4 AST, 44.0 FG%, 82.9 FT%)
  • Melvin Ely (30 games: 12.2 MIN, 2.3 PTS, 2.5 REB, 0.5 AST, 54.9 FG%, 61.9 FT%)
  • Josh Powell (54 games: 12.1 MIN, 4.1 PTS, 2.5 REB, 0.4 AST, 45.2 FG%, 80.0 FT%)
  • DJ Mbenga (41 games: 8.0 MIN, 1.4 PTS, 2.1 REB, 0.7 BLK, 46.9 FG%, 72.2 FT%)
  • Malik Allen (18 games: 9.9 MIN, 1.3 PTS, 1.8 REB, 0.2 BLK, 35.5 FG%, 50.0 FT%)
  • Joe Smith (16 games: 4.3 MIN, 0.5 PTS, 1.3 REB, 0.3 AST, 18.8 FG%, 100.0 FT%)
  • Hamady N’€™Diaye** (16 games: 5.0 MIN, 0.9 PTS, 0.4 REB, 0.3 BLK, 80.0 FG%, 50.0 FT%)
  • DeMarre Carroll (12 games: 4.2 MIN, 0.8 PTS, 0.7 REB, 0.3 AST, 33.3 FG%, 100.0 FT%)
  • Brian Skinner (2 games: 3.0 MIN, 0.0 PTS, 0.0 REB, 0.0 BLK, 0.0 FG%, 0.0 FT%)

*Restricted ($1.1 million qualifying offer)
**Restricted ($1.0 million qualifying offer)

One player’€™s future I’€™ve been contemplating is that of Humphries. You’€™ve got to assume as the newest member of the Kardashian family he’€™s interested in marketing himself in a big city, right? Only he can’€™t be an impact player in Los Angeles, because the Lakers already have Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and another Kardashian (Lamar Odom) in the frontcourt, and Blake Griffin is the cornerstone of the Clippers’€™ future. Likewise, seven more teams in the top media markets already have better fours on their rosters (Knicks: Amare Stoudemire; Bulls: Carlos Boozer; Sixers: Elton Brand; Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki; Warriors: David Lee; Celtics: KG; and Hawks: Josh Smith).

That leaves Humphries four options: 1) re-sign with the Nets, who move to Brooklyn in 2012-13, and play in the NBA’€™s largest media market; 2) accept a backup role on a big-market championship contender a la his brother-in-law Odom; 3) claim a starting role on a small-market playoff team like the Magic or Spurs; or 4) seek the most money you can, regardless of where the team is located or how good it is.

Option No. 1 seems best for Humphries, but isn’€™t there at least a chance he picks door No. 2? Imagine Kardashian husbands as the Sixth Men on opposite sides of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry. That’€™s a reality show in itself. If so, I’€™d gladly take him over Davis, as I probably would with Kenyon Martin or Carl Landry.

If Humphries, Martin and Landry all prove too rich for the Celtics blood, then I’€™d just as soon stick with the status quo and re-sign Big Baby. We’€™ve already discussed reasons the Celtics will probably bring Davis back into the fold, since he’€™s expressed interest in returning to Boston, they should be in a better position to sign him based on his ‘€œBird rights’€ (as long as those remain in a new CBA) and the sign-and-trade possibilities are scarce.

Another option Ainge should consider is allocating Green’€™s dollars to Kirilenko (a similar 3/4 type and better defender), but that likely wouldn’€™t work under a new CBA. Besides, Green is younger and healthier.

So, are you comfortable with Garnett, Davis, Green and Johnson as your options at the four? I am.

Read More: 2011 NBA free agents, Boston Celtics, Carl Landry, Glen Big Baby Davis
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