Ainge: Allen, Bass top priorities for C's
July, 2, 2012
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
Issac Baldizon/Getty ImagesThe Celtics are hard at work putting the band back together.ALLSTON, Mass. -- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Monday morning that it's status quo with free agent shooting guard Ray Allen, but stressed that Allen remains one of the team's primary targets as it attempts to reassemble its core for the 2012-13 season.
"I’m not sure if there’s progress or no progress, there’s just conversation gong on," Ainge said of contract talks with Allen's representatives, after introducing Boston's three draft picks at a community event at the Jackson Mann/Horace Mann Educational Complex. "We really want Ray to come back. Time will tell."
Sources indicated the Celtics, who Allen has spent the past five seasons with, are prepared to double the yearly salary the Miami Heat can offer, while the Memphis Grizzlies have already offered Allen their full mid-level exception, worth $5 million, for two years. Those same sources indicated Boston is positioned to produce a two-year, $12 million contract offer for the soon-to-be 37-year-old Allen.
After hammering out a three-year contract extension with Kevin Garnett over the weekend and confident that a deal will soon be finalized with free agent Jeff Green, Ainge said both Allen and Brandon Bass are Boston's top priorities moving forward.
"I don’t know if there’s a priority, but we’re trying to get Ray and Brandon both back," said Ainge. "I feel good about Jeff and where he’s at. He wants to be back, we want him back, and we’re working to make that happen.
"Right now, I have no updated information on Brandon and Ray, the two guys that we’d like to see back and we’re working toward that."
An overflowing handful of other news and notes as Ainge discussed more of the roster-building process for the 2012-13 Celtics at the event:
* The Celtics intend to have Green back next season, with both Ainge and the player's agent, David Falk, expressing optimism about a soon-to-be-completed pact. Read the full story, HERE.
* Ainge wouldn't delve into the three-year contract extension with Garnett, noting only, "We plan on entering a contract with him, too, at the end of the (free agency) moratorium." Free agency officially opened on Sunday at 12:01 a.m. ET, but players cannot officially sign until July 11.
* Asked about the likes of Mickael Pietrus and Keyon Dooling, role players on last year's team, and the desire to bring them back next season, Ainge admitted the priority for now is on top rotation players.
"I think that you have to get your best 5 to 7 guys first, then you have to see what’s left," said Ainge. "There’s a lot of managing payroll, managing the (salary) cap, and the (luxury) tax -- and future years in the cap and tax that come into play. Timing is very important in going through this process."
* It's worth noting that first-round draft pick Fab Melo requested his collegiate digit -- No. 51 -- but was told it's currently unavailable. Dooling wore those digits last year; Melo settled for No. 13 (his high school number).
* Ainge confirmed the team is aiming to remain below the $74 million luxury tax threshold that will allow the team to use the full mid-level exception ($5 million) in order to add another big-name free agent (or retain one of its own). But he noted the difficulty is that it locks Boston into a firm cap.
"If we use the (full) mid-level, we have to stay under the $74 million, theres no choice," said Ainge. "We’re trying to use the mid-level. There’s competition out there on the open market. If we use that mid-level exception, then it basically becomes a hard cap at $74 million."
* Asked about the potential to bring back Chris Wilcox, waived late in the season after his own heart ailment was detected, Ainge said simply, "Yes, we like Chris." The Celtics, who were over the luxury tax threshold a year ago, used the full taxpayer's mid-level ($3 million) to sign Wilcox last offseason.
* Soon-to-be second-year guard E'Twaun Moore has a non-guaranteed team option on his deal and Ainge admitted his spot on the roster will likely be determined by how much progress he shows as part of the team's 10-game summer league slate in Orlando and Las Vegas.
"It's a big summer for E’Twaun," said Ainge. "He’s under contract. He’ll come into summer league and his performance will be huge for him."
The Celtics must decide after the final summer league game whether to guarantee the second year of Moore's deal, valued at $762,000.
* Asked about the team's potential interest in veteran big man Marcus Camby, Ainge noted, "I won’t confirm any free agents that we’ve reached out to -- other than our own."