Leon Powe has been a key reserve on a playoff team before.
And with his decision to sign with Memphis that a league source told me yesterday should be formalized today, he’s hoping to play that role again.
Powe, the fifth-year pro out of Cal who has played just 34 games in the past two seasons mostly because of knee injuries, was bought out by Cleveland recently and is expected to sign through the end of the season. He joins a frontcourt that is already plenty-formidable, with starters Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph among the league’s best and third-year forward Darrell Arthur playing well of late.
Arthur has scored in double digits in six of his last eight games, so it’ll be interesting to see how Powe is integrated by coach Lionel Hollins. When Powe is right, as he was with Boston when he was a fan (and coach) favorite during their 2007-08 title run and the following season as well, he brings the sort of intangibles, hustle and heart that could help any team.
Few teams are playing as well as the Grizzlies of late, as they have won 15 of their last 20 games and are barely holding onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. For anyone who doesn’t know Powe’s background, he is – as Celtics coach Doc Rivers said during the 2008 playoffs – impossible not to root for because of his heart-wrenching personal story.
He survived homelessness, being in and out of foster homes and the death of his mother growing up in Oakland, yet somehow developed into not only a top-notch professional but, by all accounts in my experience, a quality person. Do yourself a favor and watch this clip.