Boston Celtics: Troy Murphy
Murphy, who spent three unproductive months with the Celtics at the end of the 2010-11 campaign, was back in town Thursday night with the Los Angeles Lakers and, despite missing four of the five shots he put up, chipped in nine rebounds, two points, two steals, and a blocked shot over 24 minutes off the bench to aid the Lakers in a 88-87 overtime triumph at TD Garden.
The Celtics signed Murphy off the buyout scrapheap last March, but never lived up to the expectations bestowed upon him given his previous NBA resume. In 17 games with the Celtics, Murphy averaged just 2.6 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.5 minutes per game, and shot a mere 10 percent from 3-point nation.
Murphy reflected on his brief stint in Boston prior to Thursday's game, including why he was unable to live up to the expectations that were set.
"I mean, I think just coming in here, I hadn't played in a long time," said Murphy, who had a falling out with the New Jersey Nets in the opening months of last season that kept him out of game action for an extended period. "And then coming in here, it was towards the end [of the season]. I didn't perform the way I feel like I could have and I think not being healthy and everything like that had a lot to do with it."
Murphy sprained his right ankle just three weeks into his tenure with Boston, which kept him out of six consecutive games and further derailed his entire acclimation process.
"I look back on it because I look at a team that I really wanted to [play well for] when I was there," said Murphy. "I wanted to really contribute, and physically, I wasn't right and I wasn't able to do it, and there wasn't enough time to kind of get there. It's like a missed opportunity. It's a great organization, and there's really nothing you can do about it. It is kind of what it is."
Season in a paragraph: Their bench underperforming for much of the season, the Celtics felt they needed to overhaul the back end in order to aid a late-season push. With a flurry of moves at the trade deadline, including trading injured Marquis Daniels to Sacramento for a future second-round draft pick and dealing Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to Cleveland for another future second-round pick, Boston freed up enough roster space to make three additions off the buyout scrapheap. First came Murphy after the Celtics won a tug-of-war with the Miami Heat, then Pavlovic followed for depth at the wing. With both Rajon Rondo and Delonte West battling through injuries, Arroyo was added soon after.
Season highlight: If Murphy got nothing else out of this experience it was shedding the title of most experienced active NBA player without a trip to the playoffs (alas, he played only three playoff minutes). He did have a 12-point, 7-rebound effort against Milwaukee in mid-March that offered some hope that he might return to the double-double player he once was, but his play never justified a consistent increase in minutes. Arroyo handed out six assists that same night, but only handed out 19 more over 14 other appearances in Boston. Pavlovic scored three points in his Boston debut and that was a season-high in Boston until he exploded for 19 points in the regular-season finale (hitting 4-of-5 3-pointers and making everyone wonder where that had been all along). His biggest impact came in the locker room where he was good friends with midseason acquisition, Nenad Krstic.
Season lowlight: By the postseason, it was clear this trio wasn't going to have an impact. The three rotated onto the inactive list and Murphy's three minutes of scoreless ball in Game 3 versus the Knicks was the only playoff basketball for the trio. Arroyo dressed for much of the Miami series and tried to aid by deciphering their playcalls from the sideline, but never saw court time. Pavlovic lost his confidence early on and never earned Rivers' trust again.
Final grade: F
Teacher's notes: The Celtics rolled the dice that veterans would aid this team more than rookies down the stretch. It didn't work and, if you want to criticize any trade in hindsight, maybe it's the Harangody/Erden deal instead of the Kendrick Perkins one everybody seems so fixated on. Erden helped the Celtics gut through the first half of the season with injuries to most of the team's centers, including Erden himself, who battled groin and shoulder issues (the shoulder injury likely needing surgery this offseason). Yes, Erden only made four appearances in Cleveland and Harangody (6.2 points, 4.2 rebounds with the Cavs) benefited from 19 minutes per game. But at least both of those players would have been around next season to further develop. What's more, Arroyo's addition came at the expense of center Chris Johnson, a deadline-day D-League 10-day pickup who had potential to develop. You can certainly understand Boston's logic in making these moves, but they simply didn't work out.
What's next?: All three players are unrestricted free agents and it's hard to imagine any of them coming back next season. Some team is likely to overpay Murphy for the potential that he can return to the player he was with more minutes, while Arroyo might be the only player Boston would have interest in for depth at the point guard spot.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on the 2010-11 seasons for Arroyo, Murphy, and Pavlovic? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
Murphy's first nine seasons in the NBA all ended in mid-April with the conclusion of the 82-game regular season, and the playoffs always served as the party he could never obtain an invitation to.
Murphy' playoff odds weren't considered terrific at the beginning of his 10th campaign, seeing as he was a member of the New Jersey Nets -- a club that won just 12 games last season. But his relationship with the Nets broke down, and he was cast into basketball purgatory, forced to miss live game action for almost two months before eventually being traded to the Golden State, bought out by the Warriors, and signed by the Celtics.
Suddenly, overnight, Murphy's playoff odds went from zero to guaranteed, and better yet, his first taste of the playoffs isn't expected to be a one-and-done showing. The Celtics are hoping to go far, and contend for an NBA championship. It all begins Sunday for Murphy, when the Celtics host the New York Knicks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at 7 p.m.
"I'm very excited," Murphy said prior to the Celtics' practice at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint on Thursday. "I'm very pumped up. I'm really looking forward to this."
Murphy logged 15 minutes in the Celtics' 104-88 victory over the Wizards, good for his highest minute total since March 18, when he took the floor for 15 minutes in a loss to the Houston Rockets. He made the most of his opportunity, as he registered four points, two rebounds, and a steal, while playing with an aggressiveness not previously seen out of the 10-year veteran.
"It [was] great," Murphy said of playing extra minutes. "Any time you get a chance to get out there and get up and down is fantastic."
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics center Nenad Krstic (bruised right knee) and forward Troy Murphy (right ankle sprain) returned to the practice court Monday and both expressed hope that they'd be able to get back on the floor Tuesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers preferred a wait-and-see approach to ensure neither injury flares up overnight, but noted that both got through practice without incident. Boston enjoyed a whopping 14 available bodies Monday, this in a season where simply having enough players for a 5-on-5 game was a luxury.
The one missing player, of course, was center Shaquille O'Neal, who suffered a right calf sprain Sunday against the Pistons. O'Neal, previously sidelined since Feb. 1 with right foot injuries, was in only his sixth minute back on the court when the injury occurred. Rivers continues to stress that the injury is minor and O'Neal could be back on the floor later this week.
"We're pretty good, except for Shaq," Rivers said when asked about team health. "I know what I know. Basically, it's a calf strain. It's not that bad, not that serious. He will not, probably, play the rest of this week, but... he may play at the end of the week."
The Celtics play a back-to-back Thursday in Chicago before hosting Washington on Friday. It would seem the team might be eying Sunday's tilt with the Miami Heat, seeing as that tilt might be key to securing the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Rivers said he didn't talk to O'Neal about the injury, just leaning on the info relayed by the team's training staff.
"I just talk to [team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte]," said Rivers. "I don't talk to players on that one, because they all feel good. Eddie and [team physician] Dr. [Brian] McKeon thought it was minor. It's not a big deal, except for Shaq, because he's big and he's 39."
Murphy, who rolled the ankle during a practice on March 24, had worn an immobilizing boot early on, but expressed a desire to get back on the floor Tuesday.
"I'm hoping," said Murphy. "I got through practice today and hopefully [Tuesday] morning I'll wake up and it doesn't blow up on me."
Murphy tried to maximize the time away from the team, digging further into the playbook, hoping that will aid his cause upon return.
"I tried to make the most of it," said Murphy. "I watched the games, figured out the calls and stuff like that."
Krstic is probably the less likely of the two to rush back on the floor. While ecstatic that the injury was much less severe than he previously imagined -- the bone bruise revealed by an MRI in Boston on Saturday -- Krstic admitted he was a bit hesitant on the floor Monday.
"It's still in my head a little bit," admitted Krstic. "There were times I might have been a little afraid to jump. But I'll be ready. In practice, [the knee] felt fine."
Said Rivers of Krstic: "We’ll wait [until Tuesday morning to decide], obviously. I thought Nenad was tentative, honestly. But he got through the whole practice; That was great. So we’ll see [Tuesday]."
Added Rivers on Murphy: "If he can play, we’ll play him. Again, we've got to make sure [he's healthy]. He went through the whole practice and you never know what happens overnight with an ankle and swelling and all that."
The Celtics feared Krstic suffered a right meniscus injury late in the first half in the Celtics' win over the San Antonio Spurs last Thursday, but an MRI on Saturday revealed nothing more than a deep bone bruise. Rivers said Krstic worked out earlier today and should be ready to play Tuesday.
"I thought that [Krstic] would be out, maybe for the year, because originally we thought meniscus at best," Rivers said. "[It's just] a deep bone bruise. He actually worked out today, and probably will play Tuesday."
Krstic said he was scared when he first suffered the injury and needed the MRI to ease his mind.
"I was thinking it was more serious. I was thinking maybe I didn't [tear my] meniscus, but maybe damaged it a little bit," Krstic said. "Right now I still feel pain, but I'm just really happy. I'm happy [that it's] nothing serious."
Murphy, meanwhile, will miss his sixth consecutive game since spraining his right ankle in practice on March 24.
"I think [Murphy will be back] soon," Rivers said. "I know he felt better. He worked out today, so I would say maybe next game. I don't know that, but I think he's going to be back soon."
Rivers said he will bring Shaq off the bench and start Jermaine O'Neal in the middle. Rivers said Jermaine O'Neal suffered no setbacks after playing in his first two games since returning from left knee surgery on Thursday and Friday, and prefers to keep reserve big man Glen Davis -- who started at center against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday -- in his customary role off the bench.
"[Jermaine's] feeling good," Rivers said. "Because he kind of has some of the stuff we're doing down, you can play him. I never like starting [Davis]. I just think he's better with that second unit, so that's why we're throwing J.O. in there."
But Sunday's blowout allowed Murphy to collect two vital ingredients: Minutes and opportunities. Not only did Murphy log 17 minutes, 22 seconds of action (good for his highest minute total as a Celtic), but he took seven shots and made five of them, as part of a 12-point, seven-rebound effort -- his best since arriving in Boston.
"Yeah, it's always good," Murphy said of seeing the ball finally go in the bucket. "We haven't had that many practices and it felt good to just get out there and get a little rhythm."
* Celtics coach Doc Rivers isn't among those panicked by the fact that Troy Murphy has yet to connect on a field goal in a Celtics uniform. He knows it's going to take some time for Murphy to shake the rust from a two-month NBA layoff and said that hesitation even shows up in practice (including in the video above, where Murphy passes up the opportunity to take a shot during the final 5-on-5 play of the day).
"That's just going to take time," said Rivers. "Even today, we ran the play for him and the fact that he didn't shoot, that shows you his timing is off. The Troy I know is the guy who always shot. He'll get it."
Murphy has missed his first nine shots (including four 3-point attempts) over his first three games (and 41 minutes overall) in a Boston uniform.
* Rivers acknowledged that it's going to be difficult to drive down minutes when the Celtics are currently missing five bodies, but thinks the addition of Carlos Arroyo (and the potential for Glen Davis and Delonte West to be back in the lineup soon) will aid that cause.
"I'm not that concerned," said Rivers. "I don't like the [amount of minutes the] last two games. Thirty-four minutes is the [target] number for[Boston's Big Four]. If you get under that, that's great. Right now, and hopefully Carlos helps, each night we have to choose between Ray [Allen] and Paul [Pierce], who's going to play the 38-minute night. And Rondo is playing the 40-minute night. We want to get those [three] guys down -- Kevin [Garnett's] minutes haven't changed and they won't change; We won't change his minutes ever. But I do want to get Ray and Paul down. They love minutes, honestly, but I think they should rest."
* Make room on the bandwagon: Arroyo said after his first practice with Boston that the Celtics fans can expect a surge of new fans from the northeastern Caribbean Sea.
"It's truly an honor to wear these colors," Arroyo said. "This is a team with a lot of history, a lot of respect around the world. I like to say, you guys got 4 million new followers in Puerto Rico. They’re truly excited about my situation."
* Davis stressed that, if the postseason were upon us, he'd be out on the floor gutting through the left patella tendon strain that's sidelined him for the past two games (and probably two more to come).
"Oh, no way -- if it's the playoffs; I'd play with that," said Davis. "It's only for a couple weeks, right? I've been playing with this for the whole season so far, half the year. A couple of weeks are not going to hurt, as long I don't get to the point where I can't walk, or perform, or play."
Davis joked that he'll let the Celtics know when he's healthy (maybe with some assistance from trainer Ed Lacerte). When asked if Rivers would have any say in that decision, he playfully looked around the gym for Rivers and not spotting him nearby joked, "No, no way."
* The No. 18 sign that typically decorates a utility pole on the way to the Celtics' practice facility was missing Tuesday. No word on whether it's under repair or simply got swiped.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he is more than willing to stay patient with Murphy as he readjusts to the speed of an NBA game.
“He’s going to miss shots, he’s going to be streaky," Rivers said following his team's practice at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint on Saturday. "When you haven’t played an NBA game in a while, it’s just tough to get that speed down. But it’ll come. As long as it’s there by the playoffs, I’m happy."
"It was great," Murphy said of running through the entire session. "[I'm] just trying to still get into it, remember the plays, everything like that. But [it was] very competitive, [it was] a lot of fun."
Murphy's current challenge is twofold. Not only does he have to master the Celtics' offensive and defensive sets, but he also has to work his way back into game shape, seeing as Wednesday night marked the first time he's played in an NBA game since Jan. 7, as a result of a fallout with his former team, the New Jersey Nets.
Murphy admitted after the win over Phoenix that he felt winded and rusty, and that he was looking forward to getting onto the practice floor to work on overcoming both of his current obstacles. Rivers said on Thursday that he already noticed improvement in Murphy's conditioning, but it'll take added time for his new big man and a remodeled second unit to master Boston's schemes.
BOSTON -- Expressing excitement about joining a team with championship expectations, Troy Murphy arrived in Boston Wednesday hoping to aid that cause in any way he can.
A veteran of 639 regular-season games, Murphy has never appeared in a postseason contest and, after securing a buyout from the Golden State Warriors earlier this week, landing with a contender was tops on his priority list.
"That was the most important factor, going to a team that was going to not only be in the playoffs, but for a long playoff run," said Murphy. "Looking at the teams, the Celtics have all the potential to do that."
But so do the Miami Heat, who were finalists for his services as well, but Murphy liked what he heard as Celtics coach Doc Rivers delivered a recruitment pitch earlier this week.
“I think it’s the way they play," said Murphy. "I think, watching both teams, I fit in better with the way Boston plays, the way they spread the floor, and I just like the way that they play."
Before Wednesday's game, Rivers said he wasn't sure if he'd even put the crash-coursed Murphy into the starting lineup. But there he was in his new No. 30 jersey checking in for Kevin Garnett with 2:13 to play in the first quarter. He missed his first shot -- a 3-pointer -- but hit a free throw early in the second quarter for his first Boston points.
"We may throw him out there, we may not, we'll just see how the game's going," said Rivers. "We just gotta figure out some practice time for all these guys. We've made a lot of moves, obviously, with very few practice days and little time, so we just have to figure this out on the fly."
The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed forward Troy Murphy. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Murphy, a 6’11” forward, has posted career averages of 11.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and has shot 39.1% from three-point range in his 10 NBA seasons. Murphy has posted five seasons during which he averaged a double-double (points-rebounds). Murphy recorded one of the best seasons of his career during 2008-09 when he averaged 14.3 points and a career-high 11.8 rebounds to go along with a 45.0% shooting percentage from the three-point line.
The deal, of course, is for the pro-rated value of the veteran's minimum (the most the over-the-cap Celtics could offer).
After spending much of their offseason beefing up their frontcourt to prevent such a reoccurrence, the Celtics likely had that image in mind while wooing Troy Murphy to Boston after the nine-year veteran secured a buyout from the Golden State Warriors this past weekend. The fact that it also prevented a chief rival from adding depth to its own paper-thin frontcourt only sweetened the deal.
The Celtics performed the textbook low-risk, high-reward addition by getting Murphy to agree to sign with Boston when he clears waivers Wednesday. The Green add a 6-foot-11 power forward who can stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting abilities and has been a rebound vacuum in past seasons.
Whether Murphy can rekindle that magic remains to be seen. If he can be anything close to the player he was for the Indiana Pacers during the 2008-09 season (45 percent shooter from 3-point land; tops in the league in defensive rebound percentage), then Boston just pulled off a heist by inking Murphy at the prorated veteran's minimum.
But even if he fails, the Celtics have won as well, because he'll never get the opportunity to find that spark with the Miami Heat.
Highly coveted free agent Troy Murphy is signing with the Boston Celtics.
Murphy told ESPN.com via e-mail that he will join the Celtics after spending much of the past 48 hours agonizing between Boston and the Miami Heat. Murphy reached terms of a buyout with the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.
Murphy also received recruiting pitches this week from Portland, New York and Orlando, sources said, but the 6-foot-10 forward was always determined to sign with a top contender in anticipation of making the first deep playoff run of his career. Murphy has played in more games (639) than any other active player without appearing in the playoffs.
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--BREWER NEARS BUYOUT WITH KNICKS--
The Knicks and Brewer are closing in on a buyout agreement that will make the former Minnesota swingman a free agent, sources close to the situation told ESPN.com.
Because Brewer will be officially released before March 1, he's eligible to play in the playoffs with another team.
Sources say Boston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Dallas are among the teams with the most interest in Brewer, who joined the Knicks only last week as part of the Carmelo Anthony deal.
The Celtics had previously tried to acquire Brewer from Minnesota before the Anthony trade went through.
--BIBBY AGREES TO BUYOUT, HEADED TO HEAT?--
Mike Bibby and the Washington Wizards have agreed to terms on a buyout.
In a stunning move, Bibby, whom the Wizards acquired from Atlanta last week in a trade for Kirk Hinrich, gave up his entire salary for next season. The 32-year-old point guard had one year and $6.2 million left on his deal.
"He sacrificed some money in order to win a championship," said David Falk, Bibby's agent. "Once you're past 10, 11 years in the league, you want to be in a situation where you can win. He's got some attractive options open to him."
Bibby is eager to sign with a title-contending team after clearing waivers, and sources say the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers are interested in him.
--Forsberg's Analysis: Delonte West's latest ankle injury, however minor, will leave the Celtics considering whether they need to bring in someone who can handle the ball in emergency situations, but that doesn't necessarily mean Boston needs to chase someone like Bibby (who's still on the Garden naughty list for his fair-weather fans comments from 2008). Murphy is rumored to be leaning towards South Beach as well now, which shouldn't come as too much of a surprise given the fact that there's more opportunity in Miami's frontcourt.
Brewer is the one player that Celtics' fans should be crossing their fingers for. Yes, Boston just landed Jeff Green to help fill that backup swingman position, but Brewer is a legitimate defender who would ensure the words "Tony Allen" never got muttered during the 2011 postseason. While no player obtained via the buyout market is likely to factor too heavily in Boston's postseason plans, Brewer might be the most likely of the bunch to find a way into the playoff rotation given his defensive talents.
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