The Celtics’ front-court depth has officially improved after the team announced the signings of free agents Glen Davis and Shelden Williams today.
And, the combination of the free agent signings, which includes Rasheed Wallace, with the expected return of Kevin Garnett (knee surgery) confirms the Celtics’ role among the favorites in the NBA.
In fact, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge expects the team to be better than the 2007-08 championship version.
“I think we’re much better,” Ainge said. “The Lakers and Cleveland are getting better. And we’ve improved.”
Davis, 23, signed a two-year deal worth $6.3 million, according to a league source. Williams, 25, gets a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum of $855,189.
Davis, who averaged 7 points and 4 rebounds in 76 regular-season games last season, seemed to increase his value during a stellar postseason performance while filling in for the injured Garnett at power forward.
He averaged 15.8 points and 5.6 rebounds in the playoffs, and hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer in the Celtics’ second-round matchup with Orlando. During the first-round series against the Chicago Bulls, Davis averaged 18.1 points and 6.7 rebounds.
But the 6-foot-8-inch, 289-pound forward said his free-agent experience was sometimes “frustrating” as he awaited offers as a restricted free agent.
“You have to realize, as much as the NBA is full of entertainment, it’s a business,” Davis said. “You’ve got to keep that in mind.”
Other teams expressed interest in Davis, who has averaged 5.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in his two-year career, but they were discouraged by the Celtics’ intention to match most offer sheets.
“Glen found out there are other teams that like his game and respect his game and would love to have him as part of their team,” Ainge said. “There were a lot of teams that liked him on draft day. But we came through and drafted him and we came through now. He’s young and energetic and we want him to be part of our team for years to come.”
Said Davis: “I’ll be ready to go out and play, do whatever it takes.”
Williams, 25, worked out for the Celtics recently and appeared to be in excellent condition, Ainge said.
He was the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks after a decorated college career at Duke. He was a first-team All-American in 2006 and graduated as the program’s all-time leader in blocked shots and rebounds.
But the 6-foot-9-inch, 250-pound Williams has struggled in the NBA, bouncing from Atlanta to Sacramento to Minnesota.
“Shelden has proven he can defend and rebound,” Ainge said. “Offensively, he hasn’t come around as well but it’s about getting the opportunity in this league.”
Editor’s note: Earlier in the day, the value of William’s contract was incorrectly reported at the veteran minimum of $1.3 million, which would be the minimum for a player with 10 years of NBA service.