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Top five all-time Celtics free agent signings

Nick Neville
July 07, 2017 - 1:27 pm

When the Celtics ink Gordon Hayward and officially sign him to his four-year, $128 million deal, he will certainly go down as one of the top Celtics free agent signings of all-time.

Highly regarded as an elite scorer who’s increased his points per game average every season in the NBA and has improved on the defensive end, Hayward could be the missing piece that puts the Celtics over the top in the Eastern Conference. Isaiah Thomas certainly thinks so, as he told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that he is “the type of player we needed to get to the Finals.”

While it’s too soon to tell how impactful his signing will be on the franchise, the Celtics have not been known for their propensity to attract high-profile free agents. In fact, much of their success has come via the draft and trades. Here are the top 5 all-time Celtics free agent signings – subject to change post-Hayward.

5. Dana Barros, 1995

Barros joined his hometown team following an All-Star season in 1994-95, his best in the NBA. After winning the Most Improved Player award with the 76ers, Barros spent five seasons in Boston, most of which was as a role player alongside Dee Brown and David Wesley. A marksman from long-range, Barros averaged just over 10 points, 3.3 assists and shot 41.1 percent from 3-point land in 307 games as a Celtic. He served as a mentor to a young Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker before being traded to the Mavs in 2000. The Boston College product would return to the team in 2004 as an assistant coach and played one final game for the C’s during that season.

4. Xavier McDaniel, 1992

The X-Man signed with the Celtics at age 29 to fill the void at forward left by Larry Bird, who had retired just one month earlier. While he had been on the Celtics’ radar for a number of years, they acquired him after his prime with the Seattle Supersonics. He was no longer a prolific scorer, but served as a consistent replacement as the team looked to redefine its identity post-Bird. The former All-Star had averaged 20 points per game each season from 1986-1990, but never managed to score more than 13.5 points per game during his three-year Celtics tenure.

3. Al Horford, 2016

It’s only one year into four-year max contract, but Horford has proven worthy of deal that Danny Ainge signed him to last summer. Aside from Kevin Durant, Horford was the only other star player available during the 2016 free agency sweepstakes, and the Celtics cashed in. While he’s not a statistical superstar, he does most everything well on the basketball court and has provided a defensive anchor for a Celtics team desperately in need of size. While his rebounding has declined, Horford has a unique skill set. He is one of the best passing big men in the league, has a deadly mid-range jumper and is able to protect the rim. Boston owes much of its team success last season to Horford’s contributions.

2. Dominque Wilkins, 1994

While many remember the high-flying Hall-of-Famer for his days with the Atlanta Hawks, some may forget his brief Celtics tenure. After losing three series to the C’s in the 80s, Wilkins signed with Boston at age 35 and only lasted one season. The nine-time All-Star was well past his prime, but he still managed to lead the team in scoring with 17.8 points per game and help carry the Celtics to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. This was the first time in 12 years he failed to average 20 points a night, though. Wilkins would go on to finish his historic career with short stints in San Antonio and Orlando.

1. James Posey, 2007

The same summer Ainge acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, he signed the 31-year-old Posey to a veteran’s minimum contract, and it paid off. Posey served as the team’s sixth man throughout the 2007-08 championship season, and proved invaluable during the team’s playoff run. After averaging 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game during the regular season, Posey continued his clutch 3-point shooting and ferocious defense throughout the playoffs. He would leave Boston after just one season, but will be long remembered by Celtics fans for helping to propel that team to the Larry O’Brien trophy. (Apologies to Sam Cassell, P.J. Brown and Eddie House – all free agent signings who provided key depth during that year.)