July 2, 2008
You know it’s a weak free-agent class when James Posey, most recently of the Boston Celtics, is one of the most in-demand players still available.
After his gritty contributions to the Celtics’ championship run this season, however, there’s no denying the sizable impact Posey can make for teams gunning for the NBA crown. The 31-year-old knocks down clutch triples, comes up with loose balls, has averaged at least 1 steal/per over the life of his nine-year career, and perhaps most importantly can man-up on defense with some of the NBA’s elite scorers from the wing.
Oh, he can be a dirty player at times alright, and I don’t especially care for his recklessness when he’s running down fast breaks, but as ABC’s Mark Jackson would say, “the man gets the job done.”
James Posey Photo Credit: Icon SMI
He did it with the 2006 Miami Heat—perhaps ETB’s least favorite NBA Champion of all time—and he did it again this year with the Celtics. That track record has a number of contenders lining up to speak with him about accepting their respective mid-level exceptions; that list could include the Celtics, Pistons, Rockets, and Cavaliers amongst others. Based on contracts already awarded this month to mediocre players with limited skill sets like C Desagna Diop (5 years, $30 million!), you can bet Posey will be looking for some security as well.
Quick thoughts on a few possible landing destinations for Posey:
GM Danny Ainge denies it, but rumor is that the Celtics have reached out to ex-Los Angeles Clipper Corey Maggette (22.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 9.7 free-throw attempts/per in 2007-08) about taking a paycut for a chance at helping the Celtics repeat. If that’s true—and of course if Maggette bites—Posey won’t be back. I personally think that’s the only scenario in which he leaves, however, given Boston’s success, his familiarity with the system, and his guaranteed role and minutes off the bench.
It’s no secret that the Pistons have struck out repeatedly in their efforts to settle on a consistent backup at small forward behind ironman Tayshaun Prince. I’ve bemoaned this seemingly never-ending search before, and unfortunately it seems last season’s backup, Jarvis Hayes, is the next addition to the “One and Done Club,” an exclusive pack of vagabonds and castoffs that now includes Hayes, Carlos Delfino, Darvin Ham, and Maurice Evans. Clearly, they need some stability there.
Posey’s scrappy, tough-guy defense would fit in well with the Pistons, who’ll likely place even more of an emphasis on solid team defense under new head coach Michael Curry. There have been rumors of a possible deal between the Pistons and Denver Nuggets that could potentially include Carmelo Anthony and Prince swapping jerseys, which would make Posey an even more important addition as the backup to the defensively challenged Anthony.
Posey just personifies Eastern Conference defense, doesn’t he? If the Cavs didn’t have a glaring hole behind LeBron James off the bench, you might think GM Danny Ferry was interested in signing Posey in large part just so James didn’t have to deal with him. The Cavaliers remain an ugly offensive team outside of The Best Thing That Ever Happened or Ever Will Happen To Them, but they are a somewhat surprisingly elite squad at the other end; Posey would, obviously, only strengthen them further.
The Rockets were the West’s version of lockdown team defense last season, finishing second in the conference behind only the San Antonio
Dullards Spurs in allowing 92 points per game; they were second in the NBA in opposing team’s field-goal percentage at 43.3%. But with Carl Landry’s status up in the air, however, and Chuck Hayes kind of “meh” in our book, the Rockets could certainly use a defensive player of Posey’s talents behind Shane Battier. Not sure whether having two guys of extremely similar skill sets there would be a good or a bad thing, but Posey would again fit in here.
The Los Angeles Lakers (perhaps, but not likely) and New Orleans Hornets (maybe, but wouldn’t that stunt second-year forward Julian Wright’s development some?) are other possibilities.