- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Bass owned a $4.25 million player option for the 2012-13 season, the final year of a four-year, $16 million deal he inked with Orlando, but will opt out in hopes of landing a long-term deal. Bass expressed a strong interest in returning to Boston after the Celtics' season ended with a Game 7 loss in Miami on Saturday, and that desire remains strong, according to his agent, Tony Dutt.
"Obviously, he would love to be back in Boston," Dutt said. "We will inform them that he plans to become an unrestricted free agent, but my gut tells me they are going to want to keep him. And I'm sure he'll have several other teams interested."
Bass' decision was a bit of a no-brainer. With a thin free-agent crop and coming off a strong season as a starter for a team that made it to the cusp of the NBA Finals, the power forward stands to boost his salary. Bass averaged career highs of 12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds over 31.7 minutes per game during the 2011-12 season.
After starting the year as a top reserve, he shuffled into the starting lineup and helped fuel Boston's second-half surge when Kevin Garnett moved to center.
Dutt noted that Bass took less money to ink the original four-year, $16 million deal with Orlando in the summer of 2009, while leaving this window open to up his value with solid play. He might be tempted to re-sign in Boston, so long as the money is comparable to what he can obtain on the open market.
"In my mind, Brandon has been underpaid the last couple years," Dutt said. "The situation with him, when we did the contract with Orlando, he was offered more money with other teams. But the situation (with the Magic), we took less money."
Dutt noted Bass thinks the Boston situation might be even more attractive than the Orlando one in 2009. That might entice him to come back. Bass expressed a strong desire to return, going so far as to say he expects to be back in Boston next season.
"I do (expect to be in Boston). I would love to be back here," Bass said earlier this week. "The fans (in Boston) are unbelievable. I think for any player, this organization is the organization that you want to play for."
Bass pointed to a tight-knit bond with his Boston teammates.
"This group here was like family, for the first time in a long time. It felt like family," he said. "We had fights, we had ups, we had downs, but at the end of the day we all fought for each other, and I'm just grateful to be a part of this group."
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