Leon Powe Breaks Out for Cavs
Last summer Powe, who had torn his ACL for a third time during Boston's playoff run, a run during which Powe played hurt, entered July a restricted free agent. Due to surgery, Powe was expected to be out until January 2010. Boston, the team which drafted him in the second round in 2007 and got two fantastic (and cheap) seasons out of the Cal product, was in position to tender Powe a qualifying offer worth $996,976.25. The Celtics did not do so.
A bit later, the Cavs did take a chance on Powe, accepting that he wouldn't return until at least midseason and handing him a guaranteed contract for more than $800,000. Powe was able to return to the lineup a few weeks ago, just as Shaquille O'Neal hit the shelf due to an injured thumb and before Zydrunas Ilgauskas could return from his brief vacation. Sunday, Powe had his best game of the season, scoring a team-high 16 points in an easy Cavs win over the Pistons.
Perhaps NBA teams ought not make personnel decisions -- even with minimum contracts -- based on moral imperative, or "the right thing." But the Celtics knew better than anyone (except perhaps the Lakers, who Powe killed in the 2008 Finals) what Leon could do on the court, and the fiber he's made of, and that he would come back from this stumble better than ever. The Celtics should have known.
Instead of waiting on Powe, the Celtics inked restricted free agent power forward Glen Davis to a two-year, $6.3 million deal. How did that work out? Davis broke his hand trying to punch a former friend at a party during the preseason, requiring surgery and leaving Big Baby out of action until Christmas. And if you want to go deeper, you'll see that in his 41 games this season, Davis has yet to score more than 15 in a game, while Powe scored 16 in his 11th game back.
And <invoking shrill Stephen A. Smith intonation> let's not even get into the wasted salary of Rasheed Wallace, another Celtics power forward paid over Powe last summer. Actually, one of Sheed's most famous quotations fits nicely here: Ball don't lie, Danny Ainge. Ball don't lie.