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The Best Way To Lose the Maggette Sweepstakes

A Daily Babble Production

Or at least as ideal a manner as possible, given the circumstances.

It looks all but certain at this point that Corey Maggette is headed to Oakland to become a Warrior, which of course means that he won't be a member of your defending NBA champion Boston Celtics (mmmm....'defending champs' has a sweet ring to it).

Throughout the long-raging debate on site surrounding the relative merits of Maggette and incumbent sixth man James Posey, I made no bones about the fact that I supported having Posey as the first priority for the Celts this off-season.   That being the case, there aren't too many tears being shed here in the first place because the Maggette signing seems to force the Celts into making re-upping Posey the big goal for the off-season.  Fine by me.

But with that disclaimer out of the way, it would seem that for Celts fans on both side of the Maggette-Posey fence, if the team had to ultimately lose out on the free-throw machine from Los Angeles, this was nearly an optimal way for it to come about.

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For starters, the green lost out on Maggette early enough that in case it was beginning to put its eggs in that basket (as some rumors made it sound), there is ample time to about-face and bring the full-court press on Posey.  Yes, Posey's bargaining power is likely to rise given that he is now the premier free agent swingman on the market for many contenders around the league, but the Celtics knew going in that his asking price was going to be high no matter what.  It was likely going to take four or five years and the mid-level exception, and that still looks to be the general vicinity of the price tag for Big Game James.

Meanwhile, for all of Maggette's I-want-to-play-for-a-winner talk, it wound up being a different sort of green that called loudest to him.  The $10 million per year that he is rumored to be receiving from the Warriors is a figure the Celts didn't have the ability to give him.  If the big money and the starter's job were Maggette's preference to playing for a winner -- certainly within his rights -- it makes one wonder just how close the Celtics would have ever been to getting him.  Better to find out now while the already rapidly thinning free agent market isn't completely bereft of other options yet.

Finally, of the rumored suitors, it's hard to imagine a better non-Boston location for Maggette than Golden State, save for perhaps the Clippers.  In his reporting of the signing with Golden State, ESPN's Marc Stein mentioned that the rest of the list included San Antonio, Detroit, Utah, Cleveland and Orlando.  Hmmm. 

San Antonio would have immediately had a big-time fourth scoring option to go with its established trio of stars and thus possibly a huge piece in making another odd-year title run.  Detroit would have gained a potent scorer to team with Rodney Stuckey and Jason Maxiell on an explosive second unit.   Utah and Orlando would have only added more firepower.  Perhaps scariest of all, that pesky Cavs team that took the Celts deep into the fourth quarter of Game 7 would finally have found a major scorer to put beside LeBron James. 

Three major conference rivals.  One top-tier title contender out West.  One other Western team closing in on the top tier of title contention -- if it isn't there already.  None will have the services of the man who was third in the league in average trips to the foul line.  Instead, Maggette will get his points in on a nightly basis for a Golden State team that looks like it will fall into the medicore-to-decent range at best.  He'll be across the country in another conference, and he won't be a threat to help a title team.  Hard to beat that.

Going forward, label me once more content to offer Posey whatever portion of the MLE he wants, be it for four years or five, depending on what it takes to get him.  Yes, in the long term, the contract might be more than we would like to see the team spend on him, but ultimately, as I wrote in the forums recently, this team spent most of the last decade assembling chips to build for that far-away never-land known as the future.  It was, oddly enough, at baseball's trading deadline late last July that the future officially arrived and became the present for the Boston Celtics.  The inaugural year of that new present has been glorious for the green faithful, and James Posey played a huge role in making it so, for the reasons outlined in the above links from the debates (no need to get into the rehashing here).  Given that now is still the most important time for this team, it seems reasonable to put primary stock in giving this unit the best chance to add more banners over these next two or three years.  If doing so requires adding an extra year or two of a sixth man at a higher price than would have been ideal, well, here's guessng that we'll live somehow.  Especially if the team has another banner or two to show for it by the time year four of that contract rolls around.

But we've still got time on the Posey watch.  For now, Corey Maggette is on the verge of becoming a Golden State Warrior.  It is no doubt a more frustrating day for those Celts fans who want to go the ultimate instant-offense route with the second unit than for those who have prioritized Posey for this team.  But for Celtics fans on all sides of this one, it bears noting that the Maggette situation could have turned out far worse.

Here's to more free agency excitement and some solid moves by the green moving forward.

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