PJ Brown is a Celtic
ADDITION MIGHT BE STRONGEST ADDITION TO BENCH SINCE WALTON
After P.J. Brown got double-teamed by the Celtics during All-Star Weekend, it was hard for him to turn down an opportunity to make a title run in Boston.
Brown, 38, was signed by the Celtics yesterday for the prorated $1.2 million veteran minimum for the remainder of the season. The forward/center, who is in his 15th season, is expected to practice today, but it's uncertain when he will make his Celtics debut.
Brown, who was also courted by the Hornets, said his decision to come to Boston was strongly aided by a conversation he had with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in New Orleans Feb. 16.
"They just pulled me over and said, 'Man, we'd really love to have you on the team,"' said Brown before last night's game against the Cavaliers. "'With your experience, we think you can help our young guys and add some stability to our team. As a player, we still think you can play. Your defense and rebounding fits in with what we're trying to do.'
"That made a huge difference in this whole deal. If that doesn't happen, you probably don't see me here today."
The 6-foot-11-inch, 239-pounder last played for the Bulls last season, averaging 6.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in 20.2 minutes per game. For his career, spent with New Jersey, Miami, Charlotte/New Orleans, and Chicago, he is averaging 9.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. Brown, a three-time All-Defensive second-team selection, will wear No. 93, the year he was drafted into the NBA and was married to his wife, Dee.
The Celtics will teach Brown their offense and defense at practice today. Coach Doc Rivers didn't think it would be difficult for Brown to grasp because of his experience and the fact he played under Miami coach Pat Riley, whose offense is similar to Boston's.
"He's a professional," said Ben Wallace of the Cavaliers, who played with Brown in Chicago. "He's a veteran who's going to come in and do his work. He knows the game. He does a lot of talking when he's on the floor, and that's going to help the younger guys out.
"We didn't start winning until we put him back in the lineup [last season]. He definitely still can play."
Making a legitimate run at the title attracted Brown to the Celtics.
"I'm just trying to make a dream come true," he said. "I feel like there is only one thing missing from my career. Boston has been coming after me pretty much the whole time. They kept the door open and they are trying to win a championship. Obviously, this team has a great chance to do that. There are rare moments and opportunities that come in this league where you have a chance to ultimately be a champion. I think this team gives me that chance."
The addition of Brown gives the Celtics frontcourt depth. Scot Pollard has been limited by a left ankle sprain, and Kevin Garnett (abdominal strain) and Kendrick Perkins (shoulder) have also missed time.
Brown said he is in good shape, but not NBA shape. Rivers wasn't certain how he would use Brown.
"We'll wait. There is no rush. We have a lot of time. We'll see," Rivers said. "Honestly, since he is not in uniform [against Cleveland], I haven't given it a whole lot of thought. He'll pay his dividends for us at one time or another."
Said Allen: "We feel like he can make us better and we can put him in some great situations."
With Brown, the Celtics will have 14 players on their roster, with one spot available. They are hoping to fill the opening with a point guard. Candidates include free agents Brent Barry and Flip Murray, and the Clippers' Sam Cassell, if he is bought out of his contract before Saturday's deadline to become eligible to play in the postseason for another team.
An NBA source said there was no dialogue between the Clippers and Cassell's agent, David Falk, yesterday.
"I know for a fact I've done tremendous things for this organization," Cassell told reporters in Los Angeles. "I've helped this organization have respectability in the city of LA, at least for a year, where everybody walked around with their chests out, and they can't tell me I didn't."
The Celtics were without guard Tony Allen against Cleveland because of a strained right calf muscle. He is listed as day to day. Forward Brian Scalabrine was back in uniform after missing five games with a strained right groin, but he didn't play.