Troy Murphy picks Celtics over Heat

Highly coveted free agent Troy Murphy is signing with the Boston Celtics.

Murphy told ESPN.com via e-mail that he will join the Celtics after spending much of the past 48 hours agonizing between Boston and the Miami Heat. Murphy reached terms of a buyout with the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.

Murphy must still clear waivers, but it's rare for players in the NBA to be claimed since a team must have cap space to fit their salary.

Murphy also received recruiting pitches this week from Portland, New York and Orlando, sources said, but the 6-foot-10 forward was always determined to sign with a top contender in anticipation of making the first deep playoff run of his career. Murphy has played in more games (639) than any other active player without appearing in the playoffs.

The East's top two teams chased Murphy hard, seeing him as this season's P.J. Brown in terms of being a difference-making big man. Boston now will hope that Murphy's perimeter touch and proven ability to rebound can fortify its frontcourt rotation like Brown did when he joined the Celtics midway through the 2007-08 season. Brown contributed greatly during Boston's championship run in the first season together for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

Missing out on Murphy will come as a blow to the Heat, who thought they could trump Boston's offer -- since both teams are restricted to paying a prorated share of the NBA's veteran minimum -- with the minutes they could offer Murphy while Udonis Haslem continues to recover from a long-term foot injury.

Miami's hope was to come out of this week with Murphy and veteran guard Mike Bibby, who forfeited his entire 2011-12 salary of $6.2 million to convince the Washington Wizards to let him go so he could join a contender for the rest of the season.

Senior writer Marc Stein covers the NBA for ESPN.com.