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Monday, December 12, 2011
Updated: December 13, 9:10 AM ET
Brandon Bass glad to be with Celtics

By Chris Forsberg
ESPNBoston.com

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Friends since their early teens, Brandon Bass remembers calling Glen Davis early in the 2007-08 season to marvel at his situation.

"When he first got here, I was in Dallas and I told him, 'Bro, you're the luckiest man on earth,'" Bass recalled on Monday. "I felt like, being a second-round pick, being an undersized [power forward], getting the opportunity to play with [Kevin Garnett], Ray Allen and Paul Pierce -- I just knew he was in a great position and that year he won a championship."

Brandon Bass
Brandon Bass' first practice with the Celtics meant renewing acquaintances with former adversary Kevin Garnett.

Late last week, Bass phoned Davis again, this time moments after discovering the two were about to be swapped in a sign-and-trade deal between the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic.

Now Bass -- himself a second-round pick and undersized power forward -- finds himself with the opportunity to play alongside Boston's championship-driven Big Three. After the initial shock of being traded wore off, he realized he might just be the luckiest guy on earth.

On Monday, Bass participated in his first practice with the Celtics and about his only lament was that his old friend couldn't be there with him.

"Me and Baby, we kind of grew up together," Bass said. "We've been around each other since we were 13 or 14. I think, more than anything, we were happy for each other. But it was crazy that we were traded for each other. There's so much talk back home [in Baton Rouge, La.] about me and him, but it's all love. I'm happy for him, I know he's happy for me. I want to do great here, I want him to do great there."

Davis, who had a roller-coaster relationship with Celtics coach Doc Rivers that often played out as bickering in the media, stressed to Bass that he was going to love his new coach. And, not surprisingly, Bass' new coach is pretty fond of him.

"I like him as a scorer, No. 1, before anything else," Rivers said. "I just thought he was one of those guys there that could score, great pick-and-pop player and not bad in [isolation] situations away from the basket. So we need that coming off the bench."

Bass won't provide the sort of quietly effective defense that Davis did, but he's an upgrade offensively. The two players are alarmingly similar, but while Davis inked a four-year, $26 million contract as part of the sign-and-trade, Bass will make a mere $4 million the next two seasons.

Maybe more importantly, Rivers was quick to point out that Bass will be far less of a headache.

"I like that he just plays hard too," Rivers said. "Low maintenance, plays hard every night. That was something we were looking for."

Bass is coming off a season in which he averaged career bests of 11.2 points and 5.6 rebounds over 26.1 minutes per game, all while shooting 51.5 percent from the floor. He started 51 of the 76 games he played in for Orlando and appeared in the postseason for the fourth time in his career.

Bass could have even more playoff experience, but the Magic limited his playing time during the 2009-10 postseason when the Celtics jumped out to a 3-0 series lead before closing out the Eastern Conference finals in six games.

"It's funny, he's one of those guys you really didn't want to play [against]," Rivers said. "There are guys on teams where you read the paper or hear the coach say, 'He's not in our rotation.' And you're like, 'Whew, that's great.' Then when they played him and he started scoring, you hope that no one saw it. But they did."

Bass admitted Monday that one of the biggest challenges he faces is carving out a role with the Celtics. Practically a full-time starter with the Magic last season, he's pegged to be the top frontcourt backup in Boston.

That affords him the luxury of going up against Garnett each day in practice, although the two have had their dust-ups in the past.

Asked about going up against Garnett in his first practice, Bass reported, "It was cool. He's long, man. He almost killed me. I've got to work extra hard, that's just me. That's how I've been my whole career, being an undersized 4 I've had to work. I'll learn a lot from him.

"[Davis] told me I'm going to love KG. He said, 'You're going to see a lot of antics. The kind of things KG does.' What's crazy, everybody feels a certain way about KG. But I grew up around people who played like that, who showed their emotions and talked while they're playing. I've always been a fan of KG. We did have little bumps and everything, I kind of got into it with him. But I've always been a fan. I like the fact that he plays that way."

Being teammates tends to mend those fences. The Celtics like the spunk they see in Bass, especially since it comes across as pure grit.

"Brandon is just a real high-character, high-energy player," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said. "He's a fantastic midrange shooter. He's just a real active player, with a lot of athleticism and energy. We've always admired who he is as much as what he can do on the court."

The Celtics clearly think Bass can fill Davis' shoes. And they certainly wouldn't mind if he helped bring them another championship.

Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.