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The Celtics’ acquisitions during buyout season have been a mixed bag in recent years. On one hand, P.J. Brown, Sam Cassel and Stephon Marbury all contributed during long playoff runs. On the other hand, Miki Moore, Troy Murphy and Carlos Arroyo struggled to get on the court in their brief stints with the club.
With the recent news that both Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O’Neal will be out for the season, the Celtics actually need a late-season signing to come in and contribute if they hope to make a playoff run that lasts more than a few games. While this seasons list of buyouts include past-their-prime veterans like Derek Fisher and Andres Nocioni, it also includes some interesting younger veterans and prospects. Below are five players the Celtics could target.
5. Chris Johnson, C, 6’11 210
Johnson’s long arms and athleticism make him an incredible shot blocker, but his alarmingly thin frame makes it almost impossible for him to body-up against other NBA centers. Additionally, Johnson is turnover-prone and shoots a terrible percentage from the field.
All cons aside, Johnson is another big body, and he played for the Celtics for a quarter of last season. He knows the players, system and culture.
4. Ronny Turiaf, C, 6’10 245
Turiaf is hated in the Boston area for his time as the flopping backup center for the Lakers. The Wizards released Turiaf over the weekend, and he should clear waivers by Wednesday. All press outlets are talking about Turiaf as if he’s the big catch of buyout season, and I’m just not buying it. Turiaf has two cons that should be huge red flags for the Celtics: he’s injury-prone and foul-prone.
Still, Turiaf brings hustle and leadership to the table if healthy.
3. JJ Hickson, PF, 6’9 242
Here’s where things get interesting. The Celtics were making a hard push for Hickson just before the trade deadline but came up short, then Monday the Sacramento Kings inexplicably released the 23 year-old forward. Hickson averaged 14 points and nine rebounds for Cleveland last season before being traded to the Kings during last summer’s draft. Inconsistent playing time in Sacramento under new head coach Keith Smart ruined Hickson’s 2012 campaign.
Hickson is a monster rebounder and a more lethal scoring threat than either O’Neal or Wilcox, but he often disappears on defense and doesn’t have the height or craftiness to guard centers.
2. Kyrylo Fesenko, C, 7’1 280
Who? Fesenko is an enormous center from Russia who’s spent the greater part of the current season at home rehabbing an injured knee. Fesenko’s stats don’t initially grab you – just two points and two rebounds a game – but dig deeper and you’ll find that he’s one of the best defensive players in the league. According to ESPN’s John Hollinger, the Utah Jazz were 11.9 points better per 100 possessions on defense last season when Fesenko was on the court.
Fesenko recently worked out for Milwaukee, and they were interested in signing him before they acquired Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown as part of the Andrew Bogut trade. The Celtics now have just one true center on the roster, and it’s Greg Stiemsma, so they could use Fesenko.
1. Terrence Williams, SF, 6’6 220
Williams is the true wildcard of buyout season. Two years ago when Williams was drafted, he appeared to have a ceiling somewhere between Jerry Stackhouse and Scottie Pippen. He averaged eight points, four rebounds and three assists for the Nets as a rookie. Today, Williams has the terrible reputation of being an absolute cancer to his coach and teammates, leaving NBA scouts to wonder if he will even get a chance to reach any of his potential.
Williams has shown the ability to be a triple-double threat from the forward position, but his attitude has kept him off the court throughout his NBA career. The Rockets released Williams Monday because he was upset at his lack of playing time and wouldn’t show up for practices and team meetings. You have to wonder if a locker room and culture like the Celtics have could be of use to Williams’ young career. With Mikael Pietrus struggling to stay healthy and inconsistent play from Keyon Dooling and Marquis Daniels, the Celtics could certainly help themselves by at least taking a look at Williams.