Earlier this week, veteran power forward Troy Murphy finalized his buyout with the Golden State Warriors, who had acquired him from the New Jersey Nets in the trade that sent Deron Williams out of Utah.
Shortly afterward, Murphy announced that he would sign with the Boston Celtics over the Miami Heat. The question now stands: How will Murphy fit onto the team?
Let's have a look at Murphy's career in general. He was drafted 14th overall by the Warriors in the 2001 NBA Draft, and spent five-and-a-half seasons there before being traded to the Indiana Pacers.
At that point, he had established himself as a reliable 15-points-and-10-rebounds-a-game kind of guy, albeit an oft-injured one. He kept that up in Indiana before starting this season with the Nets, where he saw little to no action.
Thus far this season, Murphy has been a dud. He is averaging a career-low 16 minutes a game as well as career lows in all other categories.
That being said, how is he going to fit onto an already powerful Celtics squad?
As of now, the Celtics starting lineup looks like this:
C: Nenad Krstic
PF: Kevin Garnett
SF: Paul Pierce
SG: Ray Allen
PG: Rajon Rondo
Krstic impressed in his Boston debut, scoring nine points and grabbing six rebounds in 21 minutes. Game by game, he has improved, so he will stay in the starting five.
As for the remaining four, they aren't going anywhere unless someone gets hurt. Thus, Murphy isn't going to be cracking the starting five any time soon and will definitely come off the bench to start.
Yet, even the bench is crowded in the forward department.
At 6'11" and 245 pounds, the lanky Murphy certainly has the height, yet lacks the physicality of Glen "Big Baby" Davis. Thus, you can't put him in the post when Garnett or Krstic gets tired. At the same time, Murphy no longer has the shooting touch that the newly-acquired Jeff Green exhibits.
Thus, I can really just see one role for Troy Murphy.
What the Celtics should do is utilize him as a Bruce Bowen-like defender off the bench. Murphy can play decent defense and is pretty good with the three-point shot, much like Bowen was as a member of the San Antonio Spurs.
Davis has already compared Murphy to former Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace in that he can "stretch out the floor," so this role is realistic.
The loss of Kendrick Perkins has left a gaping hole in Boston's defense, and Murphy can provide good "D" on the perimeter. He won't average double digits in points or rebounds, but will still be a valuable team member down the stretch.
I remember when I first started watching Troy Murphy—he reminded me of Dirk Nowitzki, just not as big a scorer.
Honestly, if given the opportunity to play one-on-one with Nowitzki or Bruce Bowen, I'd be more scared of the latter. He played great defense, and had a deadly outside shot.
Murphy now has the chance to become that player. If he succeeds, teams will be foaming at the mouth to sign him not just after this season, but for many more to come.