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The Posey Decision: One Year Later

 

poseWe all miss James Posey. I’d guess that a majority of Celtics fans view Danny Ainge‘s decision to bow out of the Posey bidding as a bad one, possibly the worst choice Ainge has made since taking over the C’s basketball operations earlier this decade. Ainge committed to offering Posey only a three-year deal worth the mid-level exception; when New Orleans tacked on a fourth season, Ainge wouldn’t match, and we all wondered whether it was really worth losing a key cog in a championship team over one year and 6 million measly dollars. 

A year later, it’s time to ask: Does the signing of Rasheed Wallace (and, to a lesser extent, Marquis Daniels) change your perception of Ainge’s decision on Posey? I think it should. Because right now, for this team, I’d rather have Rasheed Wallace than James Posey, and the C’s would not have had the mid-level free to use on Wallace had they reserved it for Posey. 

(Side note for collective bargaining agreement fans: If I’m reading the CBA right, the C’s did have the right to go over the cap to sign Posey without using their mid-level, but since they did not have Bird Rights on Posey, they could only offer a 20 percent raise on Posey’s 2008 salary plus future 8 percent raises–less than other teams could offer with their mid-level. So the C’s would have had to use their mid-level to sign Posey, even though he was technically their own free agent. End side note). 

Let’s put aside for a second that Posey is 32, coming off his worst statistical season since 2006 last year and fits the profile of a type of player who tends to decline quickly in this early- and mid-30s, according to a piece John Hollinger wrote last year criticizing the Hornets’s decision to sign Posey. With Kevin Garnett’s knee a potential problem for the rest of his career, the Celtics need a Wallace-type more than they need a Posey-type, and that’s even before considering that Marquis Daniels can at least approximate Posey’s unique value to the team (if not his three-point shooting). 

Ainge took a one-season gamble in 2008, and it (sort of) failed. He believed, correctly, that it would be unwise to tie up the team’s mid-level exception (its only real source of financial flexibility) in an aging perimeter player, even if that stance placed a larger burden on Tony Allen. If the team couldn’t find a better wing player than Allen, then it would be up to Allen to assume the role of Paul Pierce’s main back-up and ace defensive specialist. If he couldn’t step up, perhaps increased production from Big Baby, Leon Powe, Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo could keep the team at a championship level.

It was certainly a gamble. But you know what? It might have worked had Kevin Garnett stayed healthy. He didn’t, and with a knee that is likely in the early stages of an arthritic condition, the Celtics need to be very careful with KG going forward. Yes, Wallace is older than Posey, and, yes, he also put up some of the worst numbers of his career last season. But for this team, right now, I’d rather have an aging and declining Wallace than an aging and declining Posey. Especially with Daniels on board.

Look, I love James Posey. I’ll always have an affection for him. He hit monstrous shots in the playoffs, his three-point shooting and excellent defensive rebounding make him a more valuable player than the average 41 percent shooter and he is as entertaining a role player as their is in the league–in every sense. From his ridiculous pre-game hugs, to his occasional dirty frustration foul, Posey is the classic guy that is completely irritating to fans of every team but the one he’s on.

I attended a Raptors-Hornets game in Toronto last year, and I warned the girl I was with–not a basketball fan–that I would be cheering loudly for Posey every time he did something good. He ended up knocking down six three-pointers and finishing with a 20-10 line in a New Orleans win, and some  young Raptors fans behind me yelled at me to sit down at one point because I was standing and clapping after each Posey three. (I turned and applauded at them, and they had nothing further to say). He also delivered a hard foul on a Raptors player (I can’t remember which one) who was streaking down the lane for what appeared to be an open lay-in. It was clearly an intentional foul. 

I applauded. My companion for the game said something like: “That was mean. And doesn’t the other team get free throws now? So how is that a good thing?” I tried to explain about protecting the rim, sending a message to his teammates, etc. I’m not sure she got it. She did not come away a Posey fan.

This is just to prove my Posey-love credentials, I guess. I love the guy, and I’d love to get him back in a trade using our expiring deals–something the Hornets are unlikely to do, I’d guess. But I think we should all consider Ainge’s decision to let him go more carefully than we did at first in light of recent signings.

  • bobo

    I was a little peeved at Danny after not resigning Posey last season,but now i see it a lot clearer and glad he didn’t go there.Even though i am still a JP fan,im a much bigger fan of the Celtics winning banner#18.Danny made the correct move even though it set us back bench wise for a season.I feel that the original negotiations of KG and Ray deals could have been lesser but you have to do what is necessary sometimes to get the right pieces.

  • bobo

    By the way Zach,this is a very good article…it couldn’t have been posted at a better time.

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  • BigDev

    Great article. The one line says it all…Posey followed up a championship year by having the worst statistical year since 2006. Better there than here…Go ‘Sheed!

  • JMoose77

    I love the way Posey played and what he brought to the team, but the more I have thought about it I am not mad at Danny any more I am disappointed in Posey.. I understand 1 more year is alot of money, but he would have made some of that money anyway if not playing for us, playing for somebody..Us as regular people could live off 6 mil problably the rest of our lives but these guys anymore unless you are sporting millions of dollars in jewlery and cars not to mention thier mantions they live in, you haven’t made it.. Me, I think I could live a LITTLE more modest if it meant Championship Memories, something you can’t buy!!

  • JMoose77

    That goes for you too Marbury.. Who wants to play in Europe the last part of your career.. Especially when you just banked on a contract you are yet to EARN any of..Make the right move..A Championship ring is a beautiful thing..May the most value piece of jewlery you ever own!!

  • sudburysm

    Posey or not, we don’t win without KG. I think with KG last year we beat Orlando and 50-50 to beat Lakers in finals. That is all you ask for as a fan! I totally agree that Wallace is a better addition than Posey. We need bigs in the fourth Q. KG, Wallace, Perkins, Pierce and Rondo when protecting a 2pt lead with 5 secs left….. priceless!

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  • Bam Ledesma

    My heart goes to JP, but I think goin to the hornets made them a contender. That’s why I was sad when they lost to the nuggets in the 1st round. The C’s are goin back to the finals this season and I want to remind all the lakers fans out there to put an asterisk on that trophy with a caption. What if KG was healthy?

  • http://nerditry.com evan d.

    As a C’s fan, you know more than anyone else that chemistry is the key to their quick success and that Posey played into that season’s chemistry perfectly. He was not asked to produce on the same plane that Pierce/Garnett/Allen were and as a showing of Ainge’s thought that he could somehow do better than a Championship, let Posey go.

    Fact is that New Orleans was a TERRIBLE team last year, beset with injuries to multiple starters and an ugly conclusion to a trade that never happened (Chandler). Posey was the C’s defensive version of Lamar Odom and probably contributed as much as a person to his teammates.

    Not a good look to degrade his contributions, especially when they’ve only gotten you a nebulous version of Rasheed Wallace and Daniels.

  • Matt

    Why is it dumb people always like to say that a championship should have an asterisk by it? Every year something happens that “could” have changed the outcome. Yep, that’s why they play the games. If you want to see how it “really” should come out, see ESPN’s theoretical game plays. They run it 5000 times on stats. Sorry, but I want to see the games played.

    So should all the Celtic’s titles from the ’60′s have an asterisk because they only had 8 teams in the league, not the 30 they have now?

  • Mike

    Is the author of this article implying that the Celtics could not have used the mid-level exception this year to sign Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels if they had used it to sign James Posey last season?

    There might be a question of whether or not the Celtics *would* have spent the money on Wallace and Daniels this offseason, but it has nothing to do with the mid-level exception. You get one of those every year, regardless of what you did the previous season.

  • http://politicaldeathmatch.org Harrison_Bergeron

    First off, measuring Posey’s worth by stats alone will lead to an inaccurate assessment. Second, he’s a guy whose stats are largely going to reflect the quality of the team around him.

    At any rate, letting him go may have indeed been the right move from a long-term perspective. However, I can’t help but thinking that it would be well worth the time and effort to convince NO to trade him back to us, even if it meant dealing Big Baby in a SaT. I would WAY rather have even a declining Posey on our bench than MD right now, especially with his ability to play the 4 spot in a small lineup.

    Think about it, it’s the ECF against Cleveland, PP is on the bench getting a rest or in foul trouble, who would YOU rather have defending Lebron James, Daniels or Posey? There’s only a small handful of forwards in the NBA that can even think about defending James, and Posey is one of them. Not to mention guys like Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turgokawfuggitigiveupaloo, Caron Butler, perhaps Boozer or Odom, Ron Artest, and any other forwards we may wind up facing in the playoffs.

    That, combined with the fact that defenses MUST account for him when he’s on the floor, creating better spacing for his teammates(remember the combo of Posey and House in ’08) make him worth Baby, the contract of Veal and/or TA, and whichever NO would prefer from the trio of Giddens, Walker, and Hudson. WELL worth it, if it could be done.

  • TRad

    Why do you think Celtics wouldn’t have a MLE? MLE isn’t “every other year” exception, you could use it every offseason. So technically it would be possible for Celtics to use MLE on Posey and, season later, on Wallace.

  • JMoose77

    Yes you have an MLE every year, but you also have a SALARY CAP..witch we are over..Since we have been over the cap since getting Ray and KG.. You only have a few Execptions to the cap(one of these being the MLE once these are used you are tapped out of $$..You are also only allowed so much of a raise to a free agent unless you have cap space. since we do not that means Posey would have tied up our MLE until we had his bird rights or early bird rights.. early bird(2 years with club) rights would have givin us the chance to match the Hornets offer without useing the MLE or his all out bird rights(3 years with club) which we could have then made any offer to him..He should have signed a one year deal with us and then we would have had his early bird rights and then could have retained him, but there is a chance Danny wouldnt have wanted to pay him that much after this year, and you are not allowed to make future promises to a player with money you dont currently have available that is what happened with Joe Smith in Minnasota a few years ago.. And that is why Posey left…

  • JMoose77

    That was confusing!! In short we couldn’t match the Hornets offer without tieing up MLE for years because we were over the Cap..SORRY GUYS..

  • Damascus

    I agree that we cannot blame a Laker’s championship on an injury to Garnett. At the outset of the season Phil Jackson was asked what would it take to win the championship this year; Jackson’s first comment was, “luck.” He was probably considering how a team needed to stay healthy to win.

    Consider how many contenders had injuries to key players: Houston (McGrady and Ming!), Utah (Williams and Krilenko!), Orlando (Jameer Nelson!), Philadelphia (Elton Brand!), Boston (KG! and Powe), Denver (Anthony!), San Antoinio (who wasn’t injured?), New Orleans (Tyson and West!), Atlanta (Al Horford!)…. How can you have a playoffs at all without these players? Jackson was right. His team was talented enough, and healthy enough.

    In my opinion the league should shorten the season, as for some reason (hyper-conditioning? Greater game intensity? Money?) there are more major injuries today than earlier. At least cut out the back-to-backs.

    Humbly, D.

  • TRad

    JMoose

    You’re wrong. To have MLE you have to be over the cap.And every season you’re over the cap you could give contract built on the MLE. So Celtics _could_ give Posey MLE last season and give MLE Wallace this season.

    I strongly suggest reading Larry Coon’s excellent salary cap FAQ.
    http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm#Q19
    “Signing a player to a multi-year contract does not affect a team’s ability to use this exception every year. For example, a team can sign a player to a five-year contract using this exception and still use the exception the following year to sign another player”.

    Larry Coon is a Lakers fan. He knows what he’s writing about.

  • SC

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think every year every team that is over the Salary Cap (and even Lux Cap) gets to use their MLE. I.E. Lakers used most of their MLE last year signing Sasha and Josh Powell, while they used their MLE (didn’t really use their MLE but they had it to use, they wanted to give him a deal around the MLE which they did have) this year signing Artest. So Ainge could have signed Posey and then gotten Rasheed this year (maybe not Daniels, but if they signed him via vet bi-annual) then yes.

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  • WinningTime

    LOL…
    What’re you talking about? The Celtics NEED Posey to guard the LeBrons, Kobes, VC’s, and and all the other guards forwards at the 2,3 position. Rasheed is a bum, and his stats from the last 4 seasons prove it. And Marquis doesn’t come close to the hustle and grind Posey brought out day in and day out. Just horrible…

  • dslack

    JMoose is wrong. Mike and Trad are right.

    The midlevel exception is called an “exception” because it is an exception to the salary cap. Only teams that are over the salary cap get to use exceptions to the salary cap. (Teams that are under the cap can sign players with cap-space; teams that are over the cap need to use exceptions to the cap to sign players.)

    And teams that are over the cap get a new midlevel exception every year. Each one can be used for contracts up to 5 years in length. This is part of how teams (like the Knicks and Mavericks) end up absurdly far above the salary cap.

    If the Celtics had signed Posey last year with the MLE, they still would have gotten a brand new MLE this year that they could have used to sign Rasheed. Maybe the owners wouldn’t have been willing to spend so much, but doing so would have been consistent with the collective bargaining agreement.

  • Jonathan

    Zach, You are a good writer. I agree with every point in this article. But I have to admit I was still a bit peeved in Game 7 of last year’s 20 point loss to the Hornets when Paul Pierce practically had to be carried off and given oxygen. Even without Garnett, The C’s had a chance to make it to the finals and JP likely would have made the difference. Maybe it is better that the C’s didn’t make it only to be trounced but a relatively fresh (and undoubtedly pissed) Lakers squad.

  • Boston Dan

    A little bit embarrassing, eh Zack? Next time you send a link to Henry for self promotion, do a little self editing first!

  • Jeff

    I wonder if all this discussion about how the MLE works in relation to the cap isn’t missing the point. Danny refused to give Posey another year. If we look toward the end of that contract, Posey’s skills are in decline just as members of the big 3 are fading as well. You’d have nothing to trade, & no financial room to reload!
    Posey might have kept us in the playoffs a little longer, maybe shortened the Chicago series, even without KG, but he wasn’t going to make the difference once Powe went down too. It’s the injuries and TA’s failure to return to form that make the gamble look questionable in retrospect.

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  • JMoose77

    You are not getting the point They couldnt match the Hornets offer without useing MLE because the had no cap room to offer the kind of $$$ Hornets did unless we used it on Posey..By the way i have read that article and just because he was our player and became a free agent doesnt mean that we can offer him anything we want unless we have his bird rights… Read MLE rules agian..

  • JMoose77

    If he would have signed a one year deal for MLE then resigned with us after that that would have worked because then we have early bird rights..But he didnt want to take the chance of getting less cash..

  • JMoose77

    I know you can use MLE every year on a new player but what I actually forgot was you can give 8% raises to the guys signed under the MLE per year so i think i am wrong they could have got real close to same $$$ that Hornets Gave..SORRY GUYS!!

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