When Danny Ainge shipped away three rotation players for mere pocket change at the trading deadline, you had to believe he had a plan. And now we’re seeing that plan in action — or part of it, at least.
Ainge and the Celtics came to an agreement Tuesday with veteran big man Troy Murphy, adding the 30-year-old big man in free agency after he’d been bought out by the Golden State Warriors. The C’s were in the market for another big to pad their depth, and now they’ve got one. Adding Murphy will be huge.
Murphy ranks 28th in the NBA among active players in career rebounds, with 5,430. He’s ahead of such star players as Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Emeka Okafor and Vince Carter. In nine full seasons in his career, he’s averaged a double-double in five of them. He was a major contributor in Golden State for five and a half seasons, and he really shined in Indiana, where he emerged as a 3-point threat as well.
He’s not your ordinary big man. In addition to providing energy and rebounding prowess, he can also spread the floor with his outside shot. For his career, he’s a 39.1 percent shooter from long range; just so you know, Ray Allen is at 39.8 percent.
Murphy may not ever start in Boston, but he’s going to be a key role player between now and the late spring. He can rebound, he can score inside and out, and he can give key moments of rest to Shaquille O’Neal and Kevin Garnett.
Also, by signing him, the Celtics keep him away from the Miami Heat. That’s no small consideration.
Now that they’ve landed Murphy, the Celtics can focus on the next step of their retooling effort. With another big man in place, the C’s are less concerned with Leon Powe, who would be a great sentimental story returning to Boston but not a great basketball fit. Their real need now is another wing guy to back up Paul Pierce and Allen.
Rasual Butler and Jason Kapono are two names you might hear plenty about in the coming days. Butler can defend; Kapono could shoot. Both would be solid role players on Doc Rivers‘ bench.
In any event, the Celtics have made a solid first impression this buyout season, landing the big prize in Troy Murphy. They’re by no means done, but they’ve already sent a loud message to the rest of the NBA — they’re not done gearing up for the stretch run.