Veterans Mike Bibby and Troy Murphy have joined a pair of the Eastern Conference’s elite when the veteran duo accepted buyouts and signed on with the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics respectively. Both players will have immediate opportunities to covet a title but the opportunity will come at a steep price. Bibby was dealt from playoff hopeful Atlanta to 16-45 Washington at the trade deadline in exchange for a package highlighted by Kirk Hinrich. Rather than endure the remainder of the ’10-’11 season as well as next, Bibby agreed to a buyout which forfeits the veteran over $6 million.
Bibby and Murphy have accepted reserve roles for their respective clubs at the veteran’s minimum salary in exchange for a chance at a ring. “He’ll miss shots, he’ll be streaky.” Celtics Coach Doc Rivers told the Boston Herald shortly after hearing the news of Murphy’s acquisition. “When you haven’t played an NBA game in a while, it just tough to get that speed down. But it will come. As long as it’s here by playoffs, I’ll be happy.”
Murphy leaves a New Jersey Nets team who at 19-43, and in rebuilding mode had little use for the veteran forward but the Celtics however will look to utilize Murphy as another offensive weapon for a dangerous Boston team. “I just tell him to keep shooting,” Rivers said following a mid-week practice. “With Troy, I don’t think I’ll have to say that too much, anyway. But I will because that’s what he does.”
In just three games thus far with Boston, Murphy has seen more minutes with the Celtics than he did in the previous two months for New Jersey. The former Notre Dame star will serve as a key reserve who can play both forward positions and contribute at center with his above average rebounding ability (career 8.5 RPG in 29 MPG).
South Beach won’t give Bibby the same opportunities Atlanta afforded but the Heat are desperate for a floor leader following their recent four game slide. Bibby has seen a dip in playing time since joining Miami (24 MPG) but as a one-time elite point guard, Bibby will relieve young Mario Chalmers of fourth quarter ball handling duties and will bring a savvy veteran voice to a team in need of a stabilizing force.
At the south end of the Eastern Conference is a continually struggling Cavaliers team who lost leading scorer Antawn Jamison (18.0 PPG) last week due to a hand injury. The Cavs will scramble to find a replacement to burden the scoring load but in the meantime Baron Davis will prove how much he has left in the tank, a role the soon-to-be 32 year old star will relish as Davis will hope to boost his trade value for this summer’s player movement.
J.J. Hickson will flourish with the additional offensive touches now that Jamison is sidelined. Hickson is one of the few building blocks for Byron Scott who will begin preparing for year two at the helm in Cleveland. Hickson is averaging nearly 16 PPG in March compared to his 12.5 PPG for the year, which is one of the few positive signals for a team who has set the bar for futility.
Written exclusively for www.thefantasyfix.com by Conor Gereg.