Nails Enters Free Agency

July 1, 2008

Posey chooses free agency over C's

James Posey, after deciding not to exercise the option on the final year of his contract yesterday, is a free agent with what may be one of the largest markets of the summer.

The fact that there is a limited pool of teams with significant salary cap space (Philadelphia 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies) does not bode well for the biggest names (unrestricted free agent Gilbert Arenas, restricted free agents Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala) this summer, but Posey's lower-level aims are likely to draw a bigger crowd.

The Celtics forward reportedly is looking for a midlevel deal that starts at approximately $5.8 million and carries over 4-5 years. The C's split their midlevel exception last season between Posey and guard Eddie House. The NBA champions may be reluctant to spend the full amount on one player this time, especially if the exception extends into a long-term deal.

A league source said yesterday the valuable swingman's dance card will be top-heavy with contenders that appreciate more than ever the intangible ways Posey can contributes to a championship team. Posey now lists two NBA titles on his resume, after helping the Celtics to a championship last month and the Miami Heat to the 2006 crown.

Posey's hometown Cleveland Cavaliers are said to be putting together an offer, in addition to the Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets. New Jersey, which came close to signing Posey last summer before he was talked into going with the Celtics, also may revisit the situation, though like most teams the Nets are carving out cap space for 2010, when big names like LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade could hit the free agent market.

Posey, now looking for a long-term deal and what will be the best contract of his career, could be hurt by teams waiting for 2010 or even next summer, which also is expected to feature a better free agent crop than this offseason.

Other C's who officially are free agents as of today include House, Sam Cassell, Scot Pollard, P.J. Brown and Tony Allen (restricted).

Celtics management is under the impression Brown is leaning toward a return to retirement, though an attempt will be made to discuss the issue with him.

Cassell recently told the Rocky Mountain News he would consider playing for the Denver Nuggets next season.

Celtics notes

As a 31-year-old who played his first NBA game at the age of 19, Kevin Garnett has been around for an eternity, at least if you're doing the math in terms of a professional athlete's career. So it was more than a little surprising when, after attending WBC lightweight champion Manny Pacquiao's ninth-round knockout of David Diaz Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, the C's forward admitted it was the first live boxing match he had ever attended.

A Celtics delegation including Garnett, Ray Allen, Tony Allen, Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo all visited the champion in his dressing room following the fight. According to press reports, a stunned Pacquiao stepped out of the shower as Garnett led the room in a chant of ``Manny, Manny.''

The Filipino fighter responded by saying to Garnett, ``You're my idol. There's only one guy I want to take a picture with and that's Garnett. He's been my idol since he played for Minnesota, and now he's with the Celtics. Boston has become my favorite team.''

Pacquiao said he had watched every game of the NBA Finals against the Lakers from his Los Angeles apartment. He did not attend any of the three games at Staples Center because of a self-imposed curfew of 9 p.m.

Finals MVP Pierce was told he's famous in the Philippines. Reportedly, the captain turned to Garnett and said, ``See, they know me.'' . . . Minnesota made a qualifying offer to Ryan Gomes. The Timberwolves now can match any offer for the restricted free agent, who is thought to interest his old team, the Celtics.

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