Boston Gets Its Irishman as C's Sign Troy Murphy

BOSTON – The Celtics began the 2010-11 season with one of the top power forwards in Notre Dame’s history on their roster, and they will end the season with one as well. The noteworthy difference is that the lone roster spot that brings a taste of Irish to this Celtics squad underwent a major upgrade this afternoon.

Boston traded away the former Notre Dame star and little-used Celtics Luke Harangody, along with Semih Erden, to the Cleveland Cavaliers last week to open up roster spots for proven free agent veterans, and they landed one today. Troy Murphy, who also went to Notre Dame and was the most coveted free agent big man on the market, agreed to terms with the C’s this afternoon and will join the team in the Garden for tonight’s game against the Phoenix Suns. His availability in the game, however, is unknown.

Murphy is in his 10th NBA season and he has been a very impactful player in eight of those campaigns. He saw limited minutes in his rookie season with Golden State, but since then his career has skyrocketed.

The 6-foot-11 forward has gone on to average 11.8 PPG and 8.5 RPG in his 10-year career, but those numbers are skewed by that rookie season, as well as being stuck on New Jersey’s bench this season as the Nets chose to go in a different direction. With those two seasons discounted, Murphy’s career averages jump to 14.2 PPG and 9.1 RPG, with career highs of 15.4 PPG (2004-05) and 11.8 RPG (2008-09). Prior to being traded to the Nets this past offseason, Murphy had rattled off two consecutive seasons of averaging a double-double. A Celtics player hasn’t accomplished that feat since Al Jefferson averaged 16.0 PPG and 11.0 RPG in the 2006-07 season.

The positives don’t end there. Not only will Murphy bring size, rebounding and scoring ability to the Celtics, he’ll also give the team an added piece to spread the floor.

Though he is a big man who can attack the glass with the best of them, Murphy is also one of the league’s premier 3-point shooters. His career shooting average of 39.1 percent from downtown is not far behind Ray Allen, the league’s all-time 3-point king. Allen’s career shooting percentage from 3-point range is 39.8 percent.

The impressive shooting numbers continue to challenge Allen’s, as Murphy’s top 3-point shooting year is also on par with No. 20’s. Allen is in the midst of the best shooting year of his career and is making 45.6 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Murphy is just two seasons removed from his best 3-point shooting campaign, as he drained 45.0 percent of his treys in 2008-09 for the Indiana Pacers.

Boston may already be in first place in the Eastern Conference, but it just added more size, more rebounding and more shooting ability to its team for the stretch run of the season. That’s certainly not something other conference foes such as the Heat, Bulls, Magic and Knicks can enjoy seeing. That fact becomes particularly clear when you take into account the fact that two of those teams, the Heat and Magic, were courting Murphy hard to join their team this week for a championship push of their own.

While many have compared this signing to that of picking up P.J. Brown for the championship run in 2007-08, it’s clear that Murphy’s arrival brings a drastically larger impact. Murphy could easily be a starting power forward on two-thirds of NBA teams. He has already started in 480 of his 639 career games, including 472 of his 539 appearances outside of his rookie season and the lost season he had been spending in New Jersey.

Make no mistake about it, the Celtics had their eye on Murphy for a while with the anticipation of his buyout, and today they landed their big fish. He will change the dynamic of opponents’ defenses when he’s on the floor, and he’ll relentlessly attack the glass for his new team. Those were two things the Celtics had been missing prior to bringing him on board this afternoon.

And don’t forget that his last name will fit in perfectly with this Boston Celtic tradition. As ESPN columnist Bill Simmons tweeted on Tuesday, “Come on, like a guy named Murph would turn down Celtic Green.”

As it turns out, that guy named Murph couldn’t pass on the opportunity to chase a banner with these Celtics. With that, the Celtics can close out the season the same way they started – with an Irish power forward on their squad. This latest one, however, won’t make emergency appearances when the C’s need a body. Instead, he’ll make an impact during many meaningful minutes.