CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers signed free agent forward Leon Powe, who as a youth played with LeBron James on several AAU teams, to a two-year contract on Wednesday.

But he won’t be playing with James anytime soon. Powe, who averaged 7.7 points in 70 games with the Boston Celtics last season, tore the ACL in his left knee during the playoffs and had reconstructive surgery on May 5.

It was the third major medical procedure Powe has endured on the knee. He isn’t expected to be ready to play for the Cavaliers until February.

Powe will receive the league minimum for a third-year veteran player. The Cavaliers hold an option for 2010-11.

Powe considered only contenders and chose the Cavaliers over the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, among others, according to his agent, Aaron Goodwin.

“A lot of teams will tell a guy, ‘Come see us when you’re healthy,'” Goodwin said. “The Cavs were saying, ‘Come here now and we’ll help you get healthy.'”

Powe spent his first three seasons with the Celtics, averaging 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds as a backup. He was a restricted free agent, but became eligible to sign with any team when Boston did not make him a qualifying offer.

“Were we surprised? No,” Goodwin said of the Celtics’ decision. “Were we disappointed? Yes.”

In Cleveland, the 6-foot-8 forward will provide depth to a team that this offseason already has traded for Shaquille O’Neal, re-signed forward Anderson Varejao and signed free agents Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon.

Goodwin acknowledged that a big factor for Powe was the chance to be reunited with James, his old AAU teammate.

Powe will provide frontcourt depth to a team that this offseason has already traded for Shaquille O’Neal, re-signed forward Anderson Varejao and signed free agents Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon.

“Leon is a high quality player and person. His tough, gritty play has already contributed in big playoff games during his young career,” Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry said in a statement. “As he continues to work rehabilitating his injury, we would look to hopefully see him return toward the end of the season.”

Powe was drafted in the second round by the Denver Nuggets in 2006 and traded to the Celtics for a future pick.


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