Why Leon Powe Could Haunt the Boston Celtics

Ryan DesmaraisCorrespondent IAugust 5, 2009

CLEVELAND - MAY 10:  Leon Powe #0 of the Boston Celtics dunk against Anderson Varejao #17 and Joe Smith #32 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Three of the 2008 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 10, 2008 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Leon Powe is an undersized player at the power forward position.

He's a former second-round pick who's never come close to averaging double figures in points or rebounds over an entire NBA season.

He's trying to return from his third serious knee injury since high school.

But the Celtics should've signed him when they had the chance.

Since being drafted by Boston in 2006, Powe has established himself as a tough, gritty player that isn't interested in making the fancy plays. At only 6'8" and weighing 240 pounds, he decided early on to make the low-post game that brought him success in high school and college work in the NBA.

He hasn't had any problem banging inside with guys that are three to six inches taller and outweigh him by at least 40 pounds. In fact, Powe's ability as a human basketball magnet allows him to outshine those guys on occasion.

Coming off the bench this past season, Powe ranked sixth in the league with 10.45 free throw attempts per 48 minutes. He also ranked fifth in the league by averaging 5.7 offensive rebounds per 48 minutes.

In his three seasons with the Celtics, Powe worked his way up the roster to become the primary low-post backup, helping the team win over 60 games each of the last two years.

His coming-out party came during the biggest stage of all, the NBA Finals in 2008. In Game Two against the Lakers, Powe dropped 21 points in 15 minutes off the bench. His performance brought the most decorated franchise in NBA history one step closer to raising their 17th championship banner.

Powe was on the fast track to receiving some nice contract offers this offseason.

Of course, that was all before he tore up his knee again.

Once that happened, the Celtics apparently forgot about all these things that he brought to the team.

Powe never received a qualifying offer from the Celtics at the start of the free agency period. This made him free to sign with any team he wants.

Rumor has it that he wants to sign with Cleveland and it looks like the Cavaliers want to bring him in.

It's bad enough that Boston decided that they didn't want a guy who was a major bright spot on a bench that was wildly inconsistent. But the fact that he could possibly join forces with the Celtics' major roadblock on their path to the Finals can be downright scary.

If Powe doesn't have any setbacks with his recovery, there's a good chance that he'll be back in action toward the tail end of the upcoming season. This means that Powe will get some time to shake off the rust before Cleveland makes their anticipated playoff run.

And there's a very good possibility that Cleveland and Boston will meet up in the playoffs at some point.

A former second-round pick trying to return from a torn ACL doesn't really need any extra motivation to help him make the most of his limited playing time. But if Powe has the chance to prove to the team that let him go that he can still get the job done, you better believe that he's going to take advantage of the opportunity.

Meanwhile, the Celtics decided to bring in Shelden Williams to add depth at the big man positions, something Powe could've done at a reasonable price.

Williams is a decent player who can grab offensive rebounds and give the Celtics more size down low. I'm sure he will be a fine addition to a team that has the talent to make it back to the NBA Finals.

But Powe's hustle and intangibles that helped energize the Celtics are probably heading to the banks of Lake Erie.

The Cavaliers will be even better with Leon Powe on their roster.

I hope you enjoy him, Cleveland.

You're getting one heck of a player.