Boston Celtics' history with mid-season free agent additions reveals something about buyout season

The Celtics still have yet to add anyone from the buyout market since it began. While it would be nice to add some additional help, Boston's history with buyout additions signifies a telling revelation about that field.
NBA Finals Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics
NBA Finals Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics / Elsa/GettyImages

For NBA junkies, the NBA Trade Deadline is like Christmas morning, much like the first day of free agency. It's always fun to see who's getting a new team, who's staying put, and what doors open because of what did and did not happen. Much like Christmas, though, it only happens once a year. Then, we get the equivalent of Christmas leftovers in the buyout season.

While buyout season isn't a complete waste of time, it gets more hype than it deserves in part because, in a sense, it's cut from the same cloth as the Trade Deadline because players find their new teams. However, what falls on deaf ears around the league is that these players are not wanted by the teams that employ them to the point where they'd rather pay them to be off the team. Plus, more often than not, they show precisely why when they play for their next team. Either because their team doesn't play them or because they don't play well enough to justify a spot in the rotation.

There are certainly diamonds in the rough every so often. After the Nets bought out Joe Johnson, he proved he had enough left in the tank to help Miami during their playoff run in 2016. A few years before, the Heat struck gold when they added Chris Andersen for their title run in 2013. The Celtics themselves have also hit a home run (strictly speaking) around this time of year when they signed P.J. Brown.

Brown's name doesn't initially come up when fans talk about the 2008 championship team, but when he does, anyone who remembers him will gush about his presence. Of course, anyone who associates P.J. Brown and the Celtics remembers him best for saving the Celtics from losing to LeBron and the Cavaliers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

This performance alone doesn't do enough justice for the impact Brown had on the Celtics. While the 2008 Celtics had most of their bases covered, the one ingredient they lacked was size and interior defense in their second unit. Leon Powe and Glen Davis proving their worth were unforeseen welcome regular-season subplots, but both were undersized and green as NBA players. Brown negated the risk of playing two inexperienced youngsters deep into a playoff run while becoming the last piece.

But what needs to be brought up is, one, Brown was not a buyout guy. He was one of the best defensive big men of his era, coming off a solid campaign with the Bulls, who was semi-retired before Paul Pierce and Ray Allen convinced him to join Boston for the stretch run. Two, he was the exception, not the norm. Compare him to Sam Cassell, who the Clippers bought out before he joined the Celtics that same season. If you want an accurate depiction of the Sam Cassell experience in Boston, read Bill Simmons' thoughts about it here and here.

If that's not enough, compare him to the other players who the Celtics brought in mid-season via free agency in the years following 2008. They dabbled quite a bit in buyout season, and the results pale badly in comparison to Brown.

2009: Stephon Marbury and Mikki Moore

There may not have been a buyout guy more hyped than Stephon Marbury was when he joined the Celtics. Sure, he had a bad reputation around the league because he was the leader of the sinking ship that was the 2000s Knicks, but that didn't matter. To Celtics fans, he was a former star who had experience playing with Kevin Garnett, coming off a 14-points-per-game scoring campaign the previous year, who was going to be their backup point guard.

How bad could it possibly be? To be fair, Marbury looked like he would deliver on the hype in his first game with the team.

But the Marbury experiment was a bust. Outside of one playoff game against the Magic, where he carried the Celtics on his back for a couple of minutes, Marbury lacked confidence in himself as a scorer. As a distributor, Marbury actually was pretty solid, but adjusting to the backup point guard role proved to be tougher than anyone could have realized. While many would attribute that to Marbury's decline or his reputation as a headcase, we've seen in Boston firsthand that diminishing a former star's role from the guy to backup is a position that's easier said than done. Some can do it, while others can't. Starbury couldn't.

There's not much to say about Mikki Moore because Doc Rivers didn't trust him. Watching him play, you couldn't blame him. Moore was terrible defensively on a team that prided itself on that side of the floor during that time period. He also may have been the skinniest seven-footer to ever take the court on the Boston parquet.

2010: Michael Finley

Michael Finley was one of the more underrated players of his era. A three-and-D scorer, one could argue Finn Dog was the precursor to Jaylen Brown. And the Celtics got him!... at 37 years old. As the kids say, you're a real one if you remember when they brought in Finley for the stretch run. At that point, he was a cooked product since the Spurs simply waived him beforehand. That's what happens with 37-year-old swingmen.

It is a shame he couldn't go out on top, especially knowing the Celtics got as close as they did.

2011: Troy Murphy, Carlos Arroyo, and Sasha Pavlovic

The Celtics went through a lot of wholesale changes in 2011. Following the earth-shattering Jeff Green for Kendrick Perkins trade, the Celtics tried to add some title-craving veterans. Adding Murphy, at first, sounded exciting, knowing his penchant for double-doubles (even if he never played for any good team). However, back surgery sapped his athleticism, so he hardly played.

The Celtics added Sasha Pavlovic because they wanted wing depth, and he was the best option they could find (their preferred choice then was Corey Brewer). Carlos Arroyo sounded appealing because he could give the Celtics all the Heatles secrets. But that didn't work out well.

Did any of these guys do anything for the Celtics? No, but if you want to see how much different the NBA was back in 2011, look at the scoreboard from perhaps the only Troy Murphy highlight reel during his Celtics days.

2012: Ryan Hollins and Sean Williams

Ryan Hollins fit into the Sasha Pavlovic mold of "There weren't better options," and they only brought him in because Jermaine O'Neal (worst Celtic of that era not named Rasheed Wallace) and Chris Wilcox suffered season-ending ailments. While not much, or really nothing at all, can be said about Sean Williams, at least Hollins joined in one of the Celtics' most iconic celebrations.

2013: Terrence Williams and DJ White

Given that the 2012-13 Celtics season ended once Rajon Rondo tore his ACL, we're going to skip this one.

2018: Greg Monroe

Monroe was the hottest name to hit the buyout market that year, and, thanks to the Gordon Hayward situation, the Celtics had the inside track to add him. By virtue of having the most money to offer at $5 million, Moose was their new toy.

To be fair, they utilized Monroe much more than the other players on this list, and the big proved solid as a rotation big during the regular season. Sadly, though, he was played off the floor by Game 3 of their playoff matchup against the Bucks and by Thon Maker, of all people. After that, Monroe played mostly spot minutes and garbage time. Watch all two minutes of his playoff highlights if you don't believe that.

2021: Jabari Parker

Much like in 2013 with Rondo, this Celtics season was over the minute Jaylen Brown went down with a season-ending wrist injury. They weren't going anywhere regardless, but Parker, a former No. 2 pick, had some intrigue compared to the likes of Terrence Williams and DJ White.

Parker showed his scoring prowess while also showing why every one of his previous teams was willing to part ways with him. Parker signified the Celtics' desperation for anything, which is why it felt like a mercy killing when the Nets massacred them in the playoffs.

2022: Luke Kornet, Nik Stauskas, Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan

Yeah, the only one from this list who really mattered was Luke Kornet. Even then, one could argue that this is cheating knowing Kornet played for Boston the previous year and he had been signed to play for their G-League affiliate before they converted him to a standard contract. With each passing year, Kornet has impressed more and more, but back in 2022, he was just a body and nothing more.

Stauskas, Fitts, and Morgan fit the same bill, though Fitts had some awesome bench celebrations. When it comes down to it, those three helped fill the financial gaps that permitted the Celtics to trade for Malcolm Brogdon, which led to Jrue Holiday, so yay for that!

2023: Justin Champagnie

If your initial instinct upon reading that is asking, "Who?" then no elaboration required.

So, of all the players the Celtics have signed off the buyout market since the P.J. Brown miracle, only two were regularly featured in the playoffs: Marbury and Williams. Even then, they didn't exactly give the Celtics much oomph. Monroe and Parker played sparingly but weren't dependable. Plus, the Celtics played them because they didn't have anyone better.

While the buyout market is exciting, it doesn't harvest many guys who get featured in the playoffs much unless there are no other options. Getting a new player via free agency in time for the playoffs is a fun notion. Daniel House or Otto Porter Jr. (before he retired) would be fun, but if anyone like them were signed, it would be to warm the bench.