For true Celtics fans, Leon Powe needs no introduction. He was an important part of the Celtics and a key player as the Celtics won Banner 17.
Some of the highlights we can look at in Leon's time with the Celtics include a breakout performance Miami against the struggling pre-LeBron Heat, as he scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Celtics beat the Heat 117–87.
His most memorable performance with the Celtics came in Game 2 of the 2008 Finals against the Lakers. Leon scored 21 points, which included several dunks and 13 free throw attempts in only 15 minutes of play as the Celtics beat the Lakers 108–102. Afterwards, Phil Jackson mispronounced Powe's name in the press conference but you can bet he knew the player who just led the Celtics to a key playoff victory.
Powe also came up big in 2009 as the Celtics sought to defend their title. He started in place of Kevin Garnett, who was injured, and scored a career-high 30 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked a career-high 5 shots as the Celtics beat the Grizzlies 102-92.
How the Celtics Could Get Him
Leon will be a free agent again this season after playing for the Cavaliers and the Grizzlies after leaving the Celtics. He has played for the vet minimum for the past 3 seasons and would sign on with the Celtics if offered a vet minimum contract for the coming season. All Danny has to do is make the offer. After Powe was waived by the Cavs he was asked about whether he would consider a return to Boston and he had this to say:
“I’ll be happy wherever I end up, but Boston is always holding a special place in my heart, the fans were so good to me, everybody up there was so nice, and it would be a great thing to return back to the Celtics if I could.”
Leon is a tough competitor and gives 110% for the team. He never complained about playing time or his role on the team but did everything that was asked of him. Whether he played 5 minutes or 25 minutes, you knew that you would get everything he had every minute on the court.
Few players in the league have the heart that Leon Powe has. In the 2009 playoffs, the Celtics were short handed with KG out and he was playing with a knee strain because he knew the team needed him. In game 2, against the Bulls, Leon tore the ACL and meniscus in his left knee. Rather than crumpling to the floor as most players would have, Leon continued to play another 3 minutes after the injury before being taken out of the game. I want players with heart like that.
Leon is a tough competitor. He has an uncanny knack for grabbing rebounds and plays well around the basket. He plays tough defense and already knows the system. He fights for loose balls and brings energy to the team whenever he is on the court. He knows the Celtics system and would be great for team chemistry. The Celtics need bigs and they could do a lot worse than bringing back Powe.
With just 6 players under contract going into training camp, and no cap room to spare, the Celtics need to fill out their roster wisely. They will make an offer for Jeff Green and sign one or two rookies, but they need to find talented players who will fit into Doc's system that will give maximum return for minimum cost. Leon fits that description to a tee.
With a short training camp and little time to get used to the system, it makes sense to bring in players who already know the system, especially players like Leon who will fill a big need on the team.
The only con to signing Leon would be his knees. Although he has been mostly healthy for the past couple years, there is always the chance that his oft-repaired knees will give out on him again. His first ACL tear was in an AAU tournament in his junior year in high school. He came back to play his senior year on his reconstructed knee and was named a Parade All American, a McDonalds All American and a top 10 prospect for college recruiters.
After his freshman season in college, he still had severe pain in his reconstructed knee and he had surgery for a bone graft to relieve that pain. His knee didn't respond and they operated again and reconstructed the knee for a second time, his third major surgery on the same knee in the span of 2 years. A lesser person would have given up. But Powe persevered and went through rehab once again and he returned to Cal and became a dominant force, averaging 20.5 point per game and 10.1 rebounds per game, becoming only the 6th player ever to lead the conference in both categories and was named a second team All American.
Then, he tore the ACL once again in the 2009 playoffs with the Celtics but once again he worked hard and rehabbed and came back to play. When the Celtics played the Grizzlies last season, they had no answer for Leon as he scored 13 points on 5-6 shooting in just 17 minutes of play. But the worry always exists that his oft torn ACL might once again be a problem and that may be the only reason for hesitating on bringing him back.
At one time Red was quoted as saying that if he had to choose between character and talent, he would take character every time. When it comes to character, Leon is at the top of the league. I vote to give him another chance.