Although they can’t sign anyone to contracts until Dec. 9, NBA teams are now officially allowed to reach out to free agents. Since the Celtics  have only six players under contract, they’ll probably be linked to just about every name out there, especially big men (i.e., Carl Landry, Chuck Hayes, Kwame Brown , etc.) and backup swingmen (i.e., Shane Battier , Grant Hill , etc.). Here’s a rundown of the rumor mill from the past 24 hours.
The centerpiece of Michael Lewis ‘ New York Times piece, “The No-Stats All-Star,” Shane Battier‘s basketball acumen is second to none, with the possible exception of fellow Duke alum Grant Hill. Either unrestricted free agent would look great in green. Both have had their fair share of injuries, but Battier (age 33) played 82 games and Hill (39) appeared in 80 this past season. And both produced.
Hill on 2010-11 Suns: 30.1 MIN, 13.2 PTS, 4.2 REB, 2.5 AST, 48.4 FG%, 39.5 3P%, 82.9 FT%
Battier on 2010-11 Rockets and Grizzlies : 29.0 MIN, 7.6 PTS, 4.5 REB, 2.3 AST, 45.0 FG%, 38.2 3P%, 68.8 FT%
What are the odds the Celtics land one of these two guys? Danny Ainge would likely have to allocate the entire $3 million mini mid-level exception to Battier, and my guess is the C’s want to use that on either a big man or a shooting guard to back up Ray Allen , especially considering Paul Pierce  and Jeff Green  are expected to be their one-two punch at small forward. However, if Doc Rivers  can leverage his relationship with Hill and help land him for the veteran minimum, that would be a serious coup for the Celtics. No team would have better depth at the 3.
Traded twice in his last 81 games, Carl Landry isn’t without his flaws, but for better or worse that’s the type of player Ainge will have to consider over the next couple weeks. He could provide the offensive boost the Celtics are looking for, as he averaged 16.1 points in 52 games for the Rockets in 2010-11 before being shipped to Sacramento. However, his reputation as a black hole in the paint offensively and a below average defender aren’t exactly Ubuntu qualities. Still, Landry put up decent numbers, albeit in 65 games, this past season.
Landry on 2010-11 Kings and Hornets: 26.4 MIN, 11.9 PTS, 4.6 REB, 0.8 AST, 50.2 FG%, 74.0 FT%
Landry has made $3 million in each of his past three seasons, and at 28 years old he’s probably not looking for much of a pay cut. If Landry is the best player the Ainge can get with the mini mid-level exception, God help the Celtics. Besides, if the C’s are looking for a 6-foot-9 power forward who gives you 12 and 5 in 25 minutes a night, why not re-sign Glen Davis  and use the MLE elsewhere?
Chuck Hayes is the anti-Landry. He’ll rebound more, and score less. Two years removed from averaging just 1.3 points per game in the 2008-09 season, he registered career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks in 74 games this past season.
Hayes on 2010-11 Rockets: 28.1 MIN, 7.9 PTS, 8.1 REB, 2.7 AST, 52.7 FG%, 66.2 FT%
If the Celtics are looking for size, at 6-foot-6 Hayes ain’t it. His spike in production during a contract year last season also has to be as big a red flag as any Kristen Wiig dropped in that Saturday Night Live commercial . red flag . Again, is Hayes an upgrade from Big Baby?
We’ve discussed Battier, Landry and Hayes, we’re familiar with the versatility a healthy Marquis Daniels  could provide and Roger Mason is Roger Mason (that’s not a good thing), so let’s discuss Kwame Brown and Aaron Gray. Both have serious limitations — Brown offensively and Gray defensively — but they’re big bodies, and that makes them worth a long look, starting with their numbers last season in just 66 and 41 games, respectively.
Brown on 2010-11 Bobcats: 26.0 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 0.6 BPG, 51.7 FG%, 58.9 FT%
Gray on 2010-11 Hornets: 13.0 MPG, 3.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.3 BPG, 56.6 FG%, 50.0 FT%
If you could somehow give Brown Gray’s hands and Gray Brown’s feet, you’d have one heckuva center. Perhaps Rivers and The Core Four could extract more out of Brown’s potential than Gray’s lack of it, but that’s been said before. The former No. 1 overall pick has hands like bologna sandwiches and makes more questionable basketball decisions than Kevin James does film choices. Even still, unless we’re talking about underwear color, I’d prefer Brown to Gray.
UPDATE: According to the Milwaukee Journal Times  (h/t Celtics Town ), both center Joel Przybilla  and guard Michael Redd  are on the C’s radar. Get the picture? Everybody is on the Celtics radar.
UPDATED UPDATE: Let’s toss Josh Howard  and Anthony Parker  into the mix of free agents tied to the C’s, based on a Celtics.com report . At this point, the Celtics might as well just release this statement and get it over with: “If you’re an NBA free agent, we are interested in you. Love, Danny. P.S. We don’t have much money to offer you.”