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The draft has come and gone, and thankfully, in my opinion, the Celtics’ starting lineup remains in tact. I say give ‘em another year. The NBA free agency period officially opens on Wednesday. Celtics’ management has said that they would be willing to pay for the right veteran. Before we examine all options, let’s officially rule some players out.
The Celtics can offer no more than the mid-level exception (MLE) to any given player. This year the MLE will be just under $6 million a year as a base pay. Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, Shawn Marion and Hedo Turkoglu will not be Celtics next season. Each of these players either played too well in the playoffs to be fielding MLE offers or have teams that want to keep them too badly to let them walk for the MLE.
The C’s are obviously going to inquire about NBA veterans Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyss, Grant Hill, and Joe Smith, but who else is out there? Here are my five favorite under-the-radar free agents that would fit nicely on the C’s.
Your typical glue guy. Barnes is a guaranteed 8 points and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. He can stroke the three when open and he’s tough as nails. At 6-7, 225 pounds, he’s big enough to guard the Kobe’s and Lebron’s of the NBA while Paul Pierce and Ray Allen get a breather on the bench. He would nicely fill the role Tony Allen was supposed to fill last season when the Celts let James Posey walk. His last contract was well under the MLE, so he should be able to be had for a cheap price.
We all remember this guy’s fearlessness in the 2008 playoffs. Zaza Pachulia was the dude who was not afraid to pick a fight with Kevin Garnett in last year’s first round classic. He’s a 7-foot, six-year pro who’s only 25 years old. He’s by far my favorite backup center in the league. Zaza is a guy you can count on to give you 110% a night. Paired with Glen “Big Baby” Davis or Leon Powe, and the Celtics’ backup front court would look pretty tough. Atlanta has to worry about re-signing Marvin Williams and Mike Bibby, so I’m sure Pachulia could be available.
Indiana has said that they will not pick up Daniels’s $7.5 million option and that they hope to sign him for cheaper, making him an unrestricted free agent. Daniels is coming off his best season as a pro. Last year he averaged just under 14 points and 5 rebounds a game. He is a long, athletic, combo 2-3 player, who’s a high-flying energy guy. If the C’s can get him, I think he could develop into one of the better sixth men in the league.
He’s not the best option, but he’s certainly an upgrade over Mikki “Stick Figure” Moore. Wilcox’s size and athleticism make him capable of playing alongside KG or Kendrick Perkins. In 2007, Wilcox averaged 13 and 7, which is not too shabby. Last year he was stuck on two different teams that didn’t want to play him. He’s only 26 so he still has quite a few years of productivity left in him, even if he’s already reached his ceiling.
Ok, so it’s a long shot, but rumor has it JC wants back in the NBA. Instead of wasting away on the Grizzlies last year, JC bought himself out and returned home to play in Spain. You really can’t blame him for that. The C’s were interested in him two years ago, and Danny’s always wanted a talented European guy on his roster. This guy is one of my favorite Euro players. JC is a lights out 3pt shooter and a lighting quick passer. He’s a classic combo guard who could back up Rondo and also start some games to rest Ray Allen’s legs for the playoffs. Like I said, since he’s still in Europe and he’ll be a restricted free agent of the Grizzlies, he’s long shot, but I would love to see this guy in green.
The draft may be over, but we’re still in for a whole new wave of rumors. I can’t wait.