|Celtics search for a big man||03.15.12 at 11:57 pm ET|
SACRAMENTO — After not making a move at the trade deadline, the Celtics are going forward with the core of their roster intact, but they are by no means a finished product. After learning that Chris Wilcox will need aortic surgery and miss the rest of the season, the search is on for a big man, and possibly two.
The market is limited, but there is some hope that a few players will become available by March 23. That’s the deadline for players to be bought out of their contracts and waived and still be eligible for a postseason roster. It’s important to note that players can sign at any point up to the end of the regular season as long as they are not on someone’s roster after the March 23 deadline.
“We do need to add a big man,” team president Danny Ainge said. “We need to find the best big man available and we’ll be a little bit patient in that.”
Here’s a list of some of the big men who are, or may become available.
Chris Kaman – The biggest name by far, Kaman is averaging 12.7 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Hornets who have to tried to trade the 7-footer most of the season but found no takers for his $14 million contract. Hornets GM Dell Demps told reporters on Thursday that the team plans to keep Kaman.
“Everything is always a possibility,” Demps said. “I mean there’s no reason to say I’m certain, 100 percent sure. There’s always a possibility. I never want to say never. But our intention is to keep Chris.”
If Kaman is waived, the Celtics will have competition. Yahoo! reported that the Spurs and Heat would also be interested in signing him.
Jermaine O’Neal – This may be a stretch, but his situation remains murky.
“I don’t think he’ll be back, but nothing clear,” Doc Rivers said on Thursday. “It’s not been final but I don’t see him playing.”
Still, Ainge said later that he hasn’t closed the door on O’Neal who has been working out at the team’s facility and he plans to meet with him on Friday. “I don’t know what’s going to come from that meeting,” Ainge said.
It’s an indication of how thin the big man market is that O’Neal could be a lot of team’s Plan B if Kaman isn’t available.
Ronny Turiaf: The Nuggets acquired him at the deadline in the JaVale McGee-Nene swap and plan to waive him to make room for the returning Wilson Chandler.
Turiaf is a tough interior presence and a consummate pro, but he played in only four games with the Wizards this season. He also underwent aortic heart surgery in 2005. He’s played without incident since the surgery, but this is a team that has already lost Wilcox and Jeff Green to heart surgery. Still, he’ll be in demand like Kaman and possibly O’Neal.
Chris Johnson – The one-time Celtic is expected to be waived by the Blazers, along with Greg Oden. Johnson appeared in 20 games for Portland this season and played just 93 minutes. He’s 7 feet tall and a shot blocker, and the Celtics are obviously familiar with him after signing him to a 10-day contract last season.
As for Oden, forget it. The former No. 1 overall pick is recovering from his fifth knee surgery and won’t play again this season, if at all.
Leon Powe – The popular former Celtic has been playing in Puerto Rico, but the Celtics have shown little interest in bringing him back since they cut ties with him after the 2009 season.
Earl Barron – Currently playing for the Meralco Bolts in the Philippines, Barron has played for six NBA teams over seven seasons.
Here’s a look at some of the players in the D-League. Among the names are Brian Butch, Keith Benson and NBA veteran Dan Gadzuric.
Other veterans: Jake Voskhul, D.J. Mbenga, Francisco Elson, Theo Ratliff, Etan Thomas, Brian Skinner.
|Irish Coffee: Celtics on Grant Hill’s short list and other NBA free agent rumors||12.06.11 at 12:58 pm ET|
Because NBA teams can contact free agents but cannot sign them until Friday, you’ll hear plenty about players truncating lists of potential destinations — mini versions of LeBron James‘ ill-conceived Decision, if you will.
Four players, all great would-be additions in Boston, have included the Celtics on their short lists, according to various reports: Shane Battier, Grant Hill, Kurt Thomas and Leon Powe.
Battier would require the $3 million mini mid-level exception, and that might still not be enough for Danny Ainge to lure The No Stats All-Star. Hill might cost the C’s $3 million as well, unless by some miracle coach Doc Rivers can leverage his relationship to convince his fellow former Orlandoan to sign for the 10-year veteran minimum ($1.4 million). Both free agent’s list include seven teams, according to SI.com.
- Battier’s list: Heat, Spurs, Pacers, Raptors, Grizzlies, Celtics, Thunder
- Hill’s list: Suns, Knicks, Bulls, Spurs, Warriors, Celtics, Clippers
While Sports Illustrated cited the Suns as the heavy favorite to retain the 39-year-old Hill, a New York Post report confirmed Hill’s interest in the Celtics, Bulls and Knicks, making the point that Phoenix is a rebuilding team that can’t offer the chance for a title like the Celtics, Bulls or even Knicks.
With the possible exception of the Spurs, the Celtics will be in the unfortunate position of offering the lowest contract to either player, as those other teams as currently constituted will have the full $5 million exception.
The Post report also linked the Celtics, Heat and Bulls to another 39-year-old in Thomas. While all three teams would be offering the 10-year veteran minimum, the Bulls can offer slightly more to retain Thomas, but the Celtics and Heat would probably have more minutes available for him.
Finally, ESPN Los Angeles reporter Dave McMenamin talked to a familiar face, tweeting: “Leon Powe said the Grizzlies and Celtics are the teams he’s looking at.” The injury-plagued Powe chose Memphis over a return to Boston after being waived by the Cavaliers late last season. He averaged 5.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.8 minutes over his final 16 games, and then played only 3.5 minutes a night during the Grizzlies’ playoff run.
To recap, the Celtics can offer the worst contract among seven teams vying for the best player on this list (Battier) and would be lucky to land a pair of 39-year-olds (Hill and Thomas) or a guy who has played a combined 50 games over his last two seasons due to serious knee injuries (Powe). And I’m on board with any and all of these moves. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2011-12 Celtics free agency period!
|Would ‘the baddest man on the planet’ Leon Powe help the Celtics now?||03.24.11 at 9:33 am ET|
Doc Rivers admitted before Wednesday’s game the Celtics were very interested in acquiring Leon Powe at the trade deadline on Feb. 24. But concerns about Powe’s chronic knee problems scared the Celtics away.
After the game, after Powe led the Grizzlies with 13 points, Rivers called Powe the ‘baddest man on the planet’ in Memphis’ 90-87 win over the Celtics at TD Garden. The second-guessing was only natural. Couldn’t the Celtics use that kind of low post offensive threat and defensive toughness right now? Kendrick Perkins is in Oklahoma City, both O’Neals are out and there’s no timetable for either’s return, and Nenad Krstic still fighting what Rivers called ‘ghosts’ on the court.
Truth be told, Powe did not drab a single rebound. And further truth be told, Powe admitted afterward that he could read the writing on the wall after the Celtics acquired Troy Murphy that Boston would not be his landing spot in any deal from Cleveland.
“I feel good, I appreciate Cleveland, they let me out of my contract and you know, they gave me an opportunity over there, I just appreciate all they did for me,” Powe said of the Cavaliers giving Powe a chance in the summer of 2009, after reconstructive knee surgery. “Just got to this team and they play my style of ball too. It’s a post-up team, they like to go to the post and be strong with the ball, like to play defense. It’s a young team too, I can call some of them young fellas, I’m young still too, but they my young fellas. Yeah I’m a veteran, I’m veteran Powe now.”
Veteran Powe, afterall, is looking out for his best interests, which include a multi-year contract offer next season. He knows he has to show some value to a playoff-bound team to show other teams he still has game.
Powe’s game on Wednesday was all about attacking the Celtics’ depleted low post presence. And he did that with regularity from the moment he checked in with 39.1 seconds left in the first quarter. He made 5-of-6 from the field, all on the low post.
“Oh man it’s great, it’s fun, especially when you get a win,” Powe said. “This is a great team over there, a great team, and when you can come on the road and beat a great team like that. And do it on the defensive end, like I thought we did, it’s huge for a young, up and coming team, it’s huge, and that just adds fuel to our confidence.”
Powe was arguably the second-most important bench player behind James Posey on the 2008 Celtics world championship team. He brings defensive toughness to the Grizzlies that he did to the Celtics in that championship season.
“I just try to bring over our help side defense, clogging up the paint,” Powe said. “I’m just making sure that when there’s a pick and roll set, what we learned from the Celtics is, sometimes you pre-rotate, take that away and let other guys sink in, sink and feel. And I thought that was what we did all night tonight, and when we got away from that they got back in the game, got the lead, and then we got back to it on the defensive end and that’s how we pulled it out, with some good tough defense.”
The Celtics had few answers for the second-most important Celtics bench player behind James Posey on the 2008 world champions.
“He was the baddest man on the planet tonight,” Rivers said.
|Grizzlies guard Tony Allen: ‘I’m a Celtic’||at 12:26 am ET|
Tony Allen spent the first six seasons of his career in a Celtics uniform and the last six months as a member of the Grizzlies, so forgive him if he blurred the lines of his allegiance following his new team’s 90-87 victory against his old team. Or don’t.
“I’m a Celtic, but unfortunately, I wear a Grizzlies jersey right now,” said Allen, who was the only member of the Memphis starting five to receive a positive response from the Garden crowd during Wednesday night’s game. “It was a nice reaction. I liked it.”
Allen signed a three-year, $9.5 million deal with the Grizzlies this past offseason. The Celtics reportedly offered Allen two years and $5.2 million to remain in Boston.
“Yeah, it’s strange, but most importantly I was just happy about the victory and how our guys stuck together and focused for 48 minutes,” said Allen. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Celtics fans weren’t cheering when Allen’s night was done, as his eight points and seven rebounds helped the Grizzlies drop the C’s a full game behind the Bulls in the standings.
“I wanted this win more than anything,” he said. “We got it.”
Following his first game in Boston wearing any other color than Celtics’ green — the Grizzlies only appearance at the Garden this season — Allen exchanged kind words with former teammate Kevin Garnett after the final whistle.
“He said, ”Good luck the rest of the way. I miss you,’” said Allen. “He showed me love. It was an emotional day, but I’m happy with the win.”
Another former Celtic, Leon Powe, joined Allen in Memphis after the Cavaliers bought out the remainder of his contract after the trade deadline. Prior to the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted that the Celtics expressed interest in Powe, but ultimately decided his knee concerns were too big a risk. Powe’s 13 points on Wednesday night begged to differ.
“Leon is a presence down there,” said Allen. “He’s a little undersized, but he’s strong. The more he puts in his work on that block, it kind of lightens the load for us. Leon’s just gotta keep being Leon.”
So, did their combined experience as members of the 2007-08 Celtics team that won the NBA title help aid the Grizzlies victory?
“I felt like I was in practice,” added Allen. “I knew all they’re plays. I knew everything they were going to run. It felt good. It was nice to see Doc with those nice suits that he wears. And it was a good overall experience coming here to Boston.”
|Preview: Grizzlies at Celtics, Game 70||03.23.11 at 2:55 pm ET|
In advance of Wednesday night’s game between the Celtics (50-19) and Grizzlies (39-32) at the TD Garden (7:30 p.m.), we caught up with Chip Crain at the “3 Shades of Blue” blog. He answered our five most pressing questions on the Western Conference’s current eighth seed (He did the same for a preview of November’s 116-110 C’s overtime victory) …
1. In the wake of the Tony Allen-O.J. Mayo brawl fiasco, has the team dynamic or chemistry changed?
Yes and No. The fight is one of those things that should never have reached the media first of all. “What happens on the team plane stays on the team plane,” so to speak.
I imagine players get into scraps from time to time during an 82-game season. What made this one so newsworthy was that it involved a well-known player (Mayo), the man who recently took his starting job (Allen) and the severity of the beating (Mayo had a black eye for over a week).
What happened was that Mayo was upset over not being the starting shooting guard once Xavier Henry, who originally started in place of Mayo, was hurt. Instead, Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins turned to Allen.
Allen is not a quiet personality. His talking probably irritated Mayo long before the plane flight, but the gambling debt was the last straw. Mayo was pouting and completely in the wrong, and the beating he received was likely justified.
It was unfortunate that it happened, embarrassing that it was reported in the media but it did have a silver lining. The team bonded together after it. Instead of the battle splitting the team apart, they became more focused and united on the team goals. The Grizzlies were 15-19 at the time of the disagreement. They are 24-13 since.
2. What led to Tony Allen getting a starting spot, and why has he been so successful?
|Report: Leon Powe signs with Grizzlies||03.03.11 at 8:34 pm ET|
According to David Aldridge of NBA.com, former Celtics forward Leon Powe – who was bought out of his contract by the Cavaliers last week, thus becoming a free agent — has signed with the Memphis Grizzlies. While the Celtics had reportedly considered the possibility of a return engagement for Powe — who played in just 14 games for Cleveland this year, averaging 5.0 points and 2.7 boards in 13 minutes a night — their acquisition of Troy Murphy took them out of the market for the 27-year-old. That, in turn, led Powe to Memphis.
|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. Read the rest of this entry »