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Powe: The toughest cut


I really don’t know if Danny thought of it that way.

DA  is on record as saying that Red Auerbach kept the original big three together too long.  That is some strongly unemotional  thinking. And I believe that he may have been right.

Is there a comparison to Leon somewhere in there?  Only in the sense that Danny won’t let emotion rule his decisions.

I’ll remember Leon’s 21 point explosion in 14 minutes against the Lakers in game two of the 2008 Finals. I’ll remember his relentlessness at the boards. I’ll remember his nonstop attacks of the rim. I’ll remember his ability to get fouled. His ability to take charges was just superb, required very quick foot work, and unusual ability for anticipation.

Leon was a very popular player. Many wondered why he couldn’t have been kept on with a minimum salary until he recovered from his 3rd ACL surgery. The team carried Bill Walker, J.R. Giddens, Gabe Pruitt, and even Patrick O’Bryant for goodness sake. All were without a place in the rotation. All knew that they were not remotely part of the answer last season.

Cue Cold as Ice…and Leon became a foreigner.  No love for Leon.

There were even outcries from beat reporters….from other teams, no less.

But Leon isn’t crying over his situation in life. He learned long ago how to take care of himself and his family. Now he’s making a massive effort to recover as quickly as possible and show the Celtics they made a very wrong decision.

Leon is  a great guy. Leon is a quiet guy. Leon is a very efficient basketball player. Leon is a continuing story of inspiration.

After giving the Celtics everything he had for three years, he misses out on cashing in on his hard work with the third ACL tear of his career in the second game of the playoffs against the Bulls. He continued to play for a few minutes after getting it. Leon would have been on track for something similar to what Glen Davis’ market value is. $3-4 million per year.

It most likely would have forced the Celtics to make a decision between Powe and Davis. But they would have had bonifide trading material with either player to get other pieces they need. That is something they don’t really have now.

Taking into consideration the amount of serious injuries Leon has had, the potential cost of holding open a roster spot, and the price the team paid for not doing more last off season – Danny wouldn’t even hold the roster spot for him for the veteran minimum ($855,000) for a single year to see how he recovers.

To be fair to Danny, no one is even asking what kind of player Leon will be when he returns. It is hard to believe that he will be the same player. Probably no one knows. I don’t recall anyone playing after having two ACL surgeries on the same knee. They say it takes two years to really get back into form.

February is listed as the earliest comeback date for Leon. It has been reported that Powe is ahead of schedule. That so speaks to who Leon Powe is. The Cavaliers are reported to have made Leon a one year offer. He is looking for a second year at his option.

It is hard to use his past numbers to predict the future. Tony Allen has never really regained what he was before his knee injury. The Celtics have another player in a similar situation with Bill Walker with two serious knee operations. When Powe was going well, it inspired Danny to roll the dice with Walker. Now one wonders.

Leon’s 36 minute output was eye opening for a second round draft pick. On a prorated basis, he was a double double player every year with scoring topping out at 19.8 over 36 minutes two years ago and averaged 15 points over 36 minutes this past season. A very good offensive rebounder with solid board work overall, Powe was a better man on man defender than he was a rotation or help (team) defender.

But Leon liked contact. He averaged a telling 8.6 and 7.8 foul shots per 36 minutes in each of the last two seasons.

I’m hoping that Leon can return to a productive career. He will, once again, will be a trailblazer. Seeing how he is attacking his recovery, if anyone can do it, you feel Leon can.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” T.S. Eliot

Thomas Halzack

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