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2012-13 Celtics free agent options at power forward

Two-thirds of the Celtics [1] roster that came within a game of reaching a third NBA finals [2] in five years joins NBA free agency on July 1. Anyone from Kevin Garnett [3] to Keyon Dooling [4] can leave Boston on July 11 once the league’s audit determines the salary cap, expected to approach the 2011-12 number of $58 million. We’re examining the C’s free agent options at each position. Now starting: Power forwards (Also see: Centers [5] and shooting guards [6]).

The Celtics began last season with Kevin Garnett as the starting four, but his move to center bumped backup Brandon Bass [7] into the starting position and transformed the team. Both Chris Wilcox [8] (heart surgery) and rookie JaJuan Johnson [9] showed flashes of athletic brilliance as running mates to Rajon Rondo [10] off the bench.

Given his effectiveness down the stretch, Garnett seems the logical solution to the C’s center position, and barring an Avery Bradley [11]-esque leap Johnson appears locked into the back end of the depth chart. That means the Celtics will need two players capable of playing power forward, ideally one who can defend both bigs and another athletic option who can provide an energy boost for the reserve unit. Perhaps Bass and Wilcox are the answers.

The Celtics have four players under guaranteed contracts in 2012-13 for a combined $34.5 million (Paul Pierce [12], $16.8M; Rondo, $11.0M; Bradley, $1.6M; Johnson, $1.1M). Pending decisions on or by Garnett, Bass, Wilcox, Ray Allen [13], Jeff Green [14], Mickael Pietrus [15], Greg Stiemsma [16], Ryan Hollins [17] and Dooling, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will have anywhere from $0-33 million to spend in free agency.

As a result, expect the C’s to be linked to just about any and every free agent on the market. Nobody is out of their league. Without further ado, let’€™s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at power forward, separating the current free agent players into four categories.

THE BRANDON BASSES

No-Pass Bass averaged 12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 48 percent from the floor and 81 percent from the free throw line, providing toughness on the glass and finesse on the perimeter. Most importantly, his quiet and consistent contribution complemented the Big Four, and this group might also offer a similar solution.

RICH MAN: RYAN ANDERSON [18]

COMMON MAN: KRIS HUMPHRIES

POOR MAN: MICHAEL BEASLEY

HOMELESS MEN: J.J. Hickson, $3.4 million qualifier (54 games: 23.0 MIN, 8.4 PTS, 6.2 REB, 46.7 FG%, 64.2 FT%); Ersan Ilyasova, unrestricted (60 games: 27.6 MIN, 13.0 PTS, 8.8 REB, 1.2 AST, 49.2 FG%, 45.5 3P%, 78.1 FT%); Carl Landry, unrestricted (41 games: 24.4 MIN, 12.5 PTS, 5.2 REB, 50.3 FG%, 79.9 FT%).

THE CHRIS WILCOXES

In the weeks prior to learning of his heart problem, Wilcox hit his stride, filling the role of energetic big off the bench by offering his alley-oop services to Rondo on the break. The 10-seasoned veteran offered both experience and scoring, qualities this group might also contribute to varying degrees.

RICH MAN: ANTAWN JAMISON [22]

COMMON MAN: MARREESE SPEIGHTS

POOR MAN: KENYON MARTIN [25]

HOMELESS MEN: Boris Diaw [26], unrestricted (57 games: 25.0 MIN, 6.4 PTS, 4.9 REB, 3.6 AST, 44.4 FG%, 31.3 3P%, 62.9 FT%); Jason Maxiell, $5.0 million player option (65 games: 22.6 MIN, 6.5 PTS, 5.1 REB, 47.8 FG%, 54.7 FT%); Jason Thompson, $4.4 million qualifier (64 games: 25.9 MIN, 9.1 PTS, 6.9 REB, 53.5 FG%, 60.2 FT%).

THE JAJUAN JOHNSONS

Johnson’s 36-minute averages of 13.8 points, 7.0 boards and 1.7 blocks may have come in garbage time, but he showed flashes of athleticism and improvement that bode well for his future. However, if Ainge wants more depth in his frontcourt, these young talents might push the C’s sophomore even further down the depth chart.

RICH MAN: LAVOY ALLEN [27]

COMMON MAN: DARRELL ARTHUR

POOR MAN: ANTHONY RANDOLPH

HOMELESS MEN: Jordan Hill [29], unrestricted (39 games: 14.1 MIN, 5.0 PTS, 4.8 REB, 49.7 FG%, 63.8 FT%); Ivan Johnson, $1.0 million qualifier (56 games: 16.7 MIN, 6.4 PTS, 4.1 REB, 51.3 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 72.0 FT%); Ian Mahinmi, unrestricted (61 games: 18.7 MIN, 5.8 PTS, 4.8 REB, 54.6 FG%, 63.9 FT%).

THE SEAN WILLIAMSES

Either not worth the asking price or not worth any price, like Williams, these guys are a dime a dozen and wouldn’€™t be much of an upgrade over anybody at the league minimum. Thanks, but no thanks.

Bass declined his $4.3 million player option for next season, so both he and the Celtics will see if the grass is any greener elsewhere. The 27-year-old LSU product’s steady production proved an upgrade from Glen Davis [39], but outside of his explosion in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Bass left plenty to be desired in the playoffs. While the C’s may also address the position in the draft and see improvement from Johnson, Ainge should kick the tires on everyone from Anderson to Thompson, but Bass and Wilcox isn’t the worst-case scenario.