PJ Brown, Baby!


PJ Brown, Baby!

The Celtics are now a destination for highly desirable free agents, but that doesn't mean they can eschew the necessary leg work.

Yesterday they signed P.J. Brown - the rugged, tough-rebounding 38-year-old veteran who had been in semi-retirement - after a year-long courtship.

The 6-foot-11, 239-pound Brown had appeared to be leaning more toward a midseason signing with New Orleans or Dallas, the two teams closest to his Louisiana home.

But after listening to the recruiting pitches of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen during All-Star weekend in New Orleans, he finally decided to move north.

``Boston has a great opportunity,'' Brown, who played last season in Chicago, said before last night's game against Cleveland at TD Banknorth Garden. ``They've been playing well all year and they've been coming after me really, really hard. It's a great bunch of guys to hook up with. I think my personality and my character really fits in with these guys, and I think I can help them with my experience and my knowledge from being around the league for a long time. I feel like it's a great fit for me.

``I'm just trying to make a dream come true. I feel like there's one thing missing from my career, and Boston's pretty much been coming after me the whole year. The one thing that kept the door open for me was coming back to try and win a championship, and I feel this team has a great chance to do that. ''

Though the team is still waiting for word on whether Sam Cassell can negotiate a buyout with the Clippers, yesterday's signing gave them significant insurance inside.

A timeline on Brown's return to action after such a long layoff is anyone's guess. Though he said he is in good condition, that doesn't apply to ``game shape.''

No problem, said Doc Rivers.

``We're in no hurry with it,'' said the Celtics coach.

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