NBA Free Agents 2012: Chances Celtics Sign Ray Allen and Other Free Agents
Before negotiations started on July 1, only Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and JaJuan Johnson were under salaried contracts for next season, per ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg.
In order to keep the Big 3 in tact and set the blueprint for next year, general manager Danny Ainge has to beat the odds by inking top available players to contracts.
Thus far, Boston's brass is off to a good start.
Right out of the gate, the Celtics silenced critics by agreeing to a three-year, roughly $34 million contract with Kevin Garnett, according to Frank Dell'Apa of the Boston Globe. The 36-year-old is a key cog in the Celts' hopes of drawing more talent to the TD Garden. Who will be following suit?
With the first piece to the puzzle in place, here is the likelihood that Ray Allen and other notables on the open market will join the hunt for banner No. 18.
Ray Allen: 50 Percent Chance
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After a season marred by bone spurs in his right ankle, Ray Allen's return to the Celtics seemed like a shot in the dark. The 16-year pro produced 14.2 points per game—his lowest since his 1996-1997 rookie campaign. And with the emergence of Avery Bradley, Allen came off the bench and was inconsistent during the playoffs.
However, the tides are changing for Allen and the Celtics.
WEEI's Paul Flannery reports that aside from the Celtics, the NBA's greatest three-point shooter has gotten heavy interest from the Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat. Yet in Flannery's opinion, Boston stands a good chance at reeling Allen back.
ESPN's Chris Broussard explained the details of Allen's offers via Twitter:
Sources confirm Memphis has offered full midlevel to Ray Allen for 2 yrs. Bos willing to pay 2 yrs/$12 mill, tho no offer made yet.
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 1, 2012
For what it's worth, head coach Doc Rivers wants to see Allen back in green as well. Rivers gave ESPN Boston's Peter May his take on Allen's future:
We really want him back and I really think at the end of the day that he will be back because this is such a good fit for him. We need him back and we're trying to get him back. We can offer him more money. Yes, there are a couple of teams way under the cap who might be able to offer more money. But other than that, we can offer him more (than Miami or Memphis). He already lives here. He knows his role and everything else. It's a stretch for me to see him go somewhere else.
Taking Coach Rivers at his word, Allen could certainly be back on the parquet for the 2012-2013 season—as long as there's enough money to go around.
In the meantime, Allen is waiting for the dust to settle from the early free-agency moves.
Mickael Pietrus: 40 Percent Chance
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Mickael Pietrus has a strong desire to rejoin Boston for a second season. It's just a matter of if the Celtics want him back.
On June 27, Pietrus told Greg Payne of ESPNBoston.com how he felt about a potential return to the Celtics:
"I feel like, for me, I feel like it's home," Pietrus said of Boston. "I feel like I'm home. My summertime is hanging out with the Celtics. And I'm excited about [the NBA draft on Thursday], too. So I've never experienced any of the draft experience, so hopefully I'll be in the Garden and cheering for my new teammates."
In 42 regular-season games last season, Pietrus averaged 6.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per contest. Although after suffering a vicious concussion in March, the nine-year pro wasn't the same. In the postseason, Pietrus shot just 32.9 percent from the field and scored 3.5 points per game.
The Frenchman earned over $1.2 million this season with Boston, per Spotrac.com. Coming off knee surgery this offseason, it is unclear what type of market the shooting guard will attract. But his loyalty gives him a excellent chance at staying put.
Greg Stiemsma: 60 Percent Chance
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Greg Stiemsma—a 26-year-old rookie last season—has garnered some looks in the early going of free agency.
According to ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg, the restricted free-agent big man visited the Minnesota Timberwolves on June 1. Nonetheless, Minnesota will have to match the Celtics' $1.1 million qualifying offer.
Forsberg contemplated Boston's predicament:
The Celtics also are in a tough spot because they don't own Stiemsma's rights, limiting the raise they can offer without using an exception given that they are over the cap.
For a journeyman who was snatched from the NBA's D-league, Stiemsma's value is tough to gauge. He proved to be a defensive shot-blocker with raw offensive skills this past season, averaging 2.9 points, 1.6 blocks, and 3.2 rebounds in 55 games.
If a team overpays the Wisconsin product, the C's will be in a tough spot. But according to Stiemsma's agent Mike Naiditch, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, the 6'11" center remains partial to Boston.
"He's going to listen to Minnesota and he'll probably visit with a few more teams, too," Naiditch said. "But Boston is where he wants to be. At the same time, he has to make sure he knows what all opportunities are out there for him. But what he wants when all is said and done, is to keep playing for the Boston Celtics."
With that in mind, it wouldn't be surprising to see No. 54 coming off the bench for the Celtics next season.
Jeff Green: 75 Percent Chance
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Jeff Green missed the entire 2011-2012 season after undergoing heart surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. As a result, the Celtics removed Green's $9 million qualifying offer in January, reports ESPN Boston's Peter May.
Now, the C's fifth pick in the 2007 NBA draft is looking for a team.
Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick learned from Green's agent David Falk that 12 to 14 organizations have inquired about the former Georgetown Hoya.
Boston is one of those teams.
Peter May of ESPN Boston got Doc Rivers' thoughts on the possibility of Green re-signing with Boston:
We're going after Jeff. We're going to get Jeff. I believe that, yes. Obviously, you never know, until it's signed, but Jeff has a great relationship with the team, the players and he really wants to play here. So I think if we get the numbers right, he'll definitely come to us. And if we don't, if somebody comes in and blows him away, then it's a business thing because I really think he wants to play in Boston. He loves the crowds. He wants to play here and that gives us an advantage.
Based on Rivers' feelings toward Green, it seems as though a deal is likely to get done. Even though another squad could give Boston a run for their money.
Green spent part of the 2010-2011 season with the Celtics, averaging 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 26 games. Yet instead of starting like he did with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the 6'9" forward came off the bench and never found his groove.
It it appears as though Green's medical hardships have only strengthened his bond with the Celtics organization. If he returns, the Celtics would be in excellent shape with reliable depth at the forward spot.
Keyon Dooling: 35 Percent Chance
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Keyon Dooling gave the Celtics more than the occasional spark off the bench last season, he gave them a team-first leader.
Ben Watanabe of NESN believes the experienced guard was invaluable to Boston's backcourt, even when he wasn't playing:
Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley credited Dooling with showing them how to conduct themselves as professionals, even when Dooling's playing time decreased significantly when Ray Allen and Bradley were both healthy.
The 32-year-old averaged four points and 1.1 assists per game for the C's, and hit several critical three-pointers down the stretch.
Dooling may not draw many teams in free agency. Therefore, as a depth guy in the rotation, he is a logical fit for the Celtics moving forward.
It's just up in the air whether Boston wants the energizer back for another year.
Brandon Bass: 65 Percent Chance
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After posting a career-best 12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, Brandon Bass has opted out of his contract.
On June 14, Bass's agent Tony Dutt spoke with CSNNE.com, and A. Sherrod Blakely reported that although Bass declared himself a free agent, Boston is his No. 1 choice.
The 27-year-old was set to earn $4.25 million next season, but it will take more than that to get him back.
According to the Boston Herald, the Celtics have reached out to Bass's representatives and both sides are on good terms. Dutt indicates that six other teams are vying for his client. Dutt commented to the Herald:
“We understand that they care about him, but we have to look at all of our options,” said Dutt. “It’s our job to look at everything and make good decisions.” …
Bass plays bigger than his frame and can shoot with proficiency from mid-range. As a starter or a sixth man, the LSU Tiger makes his presence felt.
If Bass doesn't return, the Celtics have rookie post players Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. With or without the two first-round draft picks, the 6'8" Bass is entering his prime and will pay dividends wherever he lands.
O.J. Mayo: 25 Percent Chance
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The Memphis Grizzlies' O.J. Mayo is a free agent, and the Celtics are intrigued by the 24-year-old guard.
According to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE, Boston could potentially dish Brandon Bass for Mayo in a sign-and-trade.
It wouldn't be the first time the C's tried to wheel-and-deal for the third pick in the 2008 draft. Blakely reports that Mayo was very close to becoming a Celtic prior March's trade deadline. If Boston nearly pulled the trigger before, the second opportunity could yield a different outcome.
ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg can see why Boston is eyeing the ex-USC Trojan:
At a quick glance, Mayo seems like an enticing candidate. He's a skilled offensive player and an accomplished shooter, and would most likely accept a bench role similar to the one he played in Memphis the past two seasons, and, most importantly, he's young, being only 24 years old. But he's an experienced young player, capable of contributing to a team with lofty playoff goals. If the C's did acquire Mayo, he'd be both a short- and long-term contributor, providing help now, but also serving as a fairly significant part of an eventual rebuilding effort.
In four NBA seasons, Mayo's scoring average has tapered off. As a rookie, the 6'4" wingman averaged 18.5 points per game. Flash forward to the 2011-2012 season, and Mayo's output dropped to 12.6 points. His field goal and free throw percentage has reduced and minutes are harder to come by in Memphis.
Despite the questionable regression, Mayo makes sense for the present and the future in Boston. Therefore, expect the Celtics to do their due diligence here. But if Mayo receives an enticing offer from another team, Danny Ainge has no obligation to counter.
Jamal Crawford: 15 Percent Chance
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Let's get one thing straight, Jamal Crawford is a scorer.
The Michigan Wolverine hasn't averaged under 13 points since the 2002-2003 season with the Chicago Bulls. Because of this prowess, Crawford is getting plenty of respect this offseason.
CSNNW.com's Chris Haynes reports that the unrestricted Portland Trailblazer is being chased by six organizations: the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Sean Sweeney of Dime says that the Clippers are frontrunners for the 32-year-old. Crawford opted out of a two-year, $10 million contract with Portland this past season. So perhaps he's looking for a bigger paycheck, or a better situation.
If Los Angeles is leading the pack, the Celtics shouldn't be far behind. Yet with six teams in the equation, Crawford has a slim chance of signing with Boston. Should Ray Allen re-sign, Crawford would no longer be a priority for the C's.
Jason Terry: 100 Percent Chance
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One of league's best sixth men, Jason Terry can hit the three, knock down free throws and dish the ball out to his teammates. But due to his great longevity, many teams—including the Celtics—are knocking on the 34-year-old's door.
Not only is the 2011 NBA champion being acquainted with the Celtics, but he is closing in on a three-year deal worth $5 million annually with the team, according to ESPN's Marc Stein and Jeff Caplan.
The Mavericks are surprisingly on the Terry's back burner even after he's spent eight years in Dallas. The Dallas Morning News' Eddie Sefko reports that Terry will give Dallas an opportunity to match any deal he is offered. That devotion doesn't seem to adhere with the fact Boston is on the top of his board.
Needless to say, the Jet should be landing in Beantown very soon. It remains to be seen what sort of impact Terry will have on the incumbent guards.
Nick Young: 5 Percent Chance
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Los Angeles Clippers' Nick Young is on the Celtics' radar, sources close to the situation told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!.
The 27-year-old swingman can jack up shots, but would he make sense in a Celtics uniform?
ESPN Boston's Greg Payne dug deeper into the C's reported interest in Young:
Young is an enticing prospect, standing at 6-foot-6 with a penchant for hoisting up shots without much of a conscience. His ability to score the ball can't be questioned (career average of 11.4 points per game), which is exactly why the Celtics would be inquiring about his services.
If Ray Allen and Mickael Pietrus pack their bags, Nick Young is a possibility. Although due to his age and physical tools, he won't be swimming in the free agency pool for long.
For the time being, Danny Ainge is just doing his research: scoping out the available athletes that could fit the Celtics' criteria.