Celtics have deal with Ryan Hollins

Updated: March 23, 2012, 12:11 AM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday he's in talks with the agent for recently released center Ryan Hollins and that all indications point to the 27-year-old 7-footer officially joining Boston as early as Friday.

During his weekly radio appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI (93.7 FM), Ainge said Hollins came highly recommended by both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who worked out with the Los Angeles-area native this summer during the lockout.

Hollins, who was waived by the Cavaliers earlier this week, averaged 3.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game for Cleveland this season in just more than 15 minutes per game. He played in 24 games, seven of them starts.

Coach Doc Rivers confirmed the move Thursday night.

"It's not official, but [Hollins] agreed and all the papers are being drawn up and hopefully by the end of the day, he'll be a Celtic," he said before Boston's 100-91 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

In order to add Hollins, the Celtics must make a roster move with the team at the 15-man roster limit. With both Chris Wilcox (cardiac issue) and Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) out for the remainder of the season, both players are candidates to be bought out in order to free a roster spot.

If Boston's goal was to secure a legit big man, they'll get that in Hollins. It might not always manifest itself in production on the court, but coaches love to remind us that you can't teach size. Now it's up to Boston to figure out how to get the most out of him.

Offensively, the Celtics will have to figure out a way to get him going toward the basket. He thrives in the pick-and-roll and off putbacks. It seems like when he's on the floor, he should be setting high screens for Rajon Rondo and Boston's ball handlers, then attacking the basket. His transition numbers are not great this season in limited playing time with Cleveland, but he did thrive running the floor during his best NBA season with the Minnesota in 2010.

His size makes him a factor on the defensive end -- just maybe not the way you'd expect. Thicker centers can try to outmuscle him, but his length and athleticism allow him to contest shots and hold his own in the pick-and-roll. The caveat, of course, is that his rebounding numbers aren't great.

If he indeed joins the Celtics, it will be interesting to see how Rivers distributes minutes. Rookie center Greg Stiemsma is showing steady development and the team won't want to stunt that considering he's an option for the future. Alas, he's also nursing a lingering right foot injury, and some additional rest might not be the worst thing for him.

The question is whether Hollins -- and anyone else the team brings in -- can pick up the playbook quick enough for Rivers to develop confidence in him. The Celtics just need a big body to eat minutes, so it's likely Hollins will get tossed into the fire and his level of play will determine how much floor time he nets over the final 20 games of the season.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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