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ORLANDO -- Brandon Bass dropped into the Orlando Summer League on Wednesday to catch up with members of the Celtics organization and pledged to be blissfully unaware of -- or at least unmoved by -- all the changes that have occurred since the team's season ended in early May.
Doc Rivers' departure? "I don't even watch that stuff. … I wasn't following it. … That's strange, but he's [in Los Angeles]. I don't really have an opinion about that," Bass offered.
|Brandon Bass played some of his best basketball in the playoffs, particularly his defense on Carmelo Anthony.|
An overhauled roster? "I don't have no impressions, I don't have no feelings. … I don't really get too caught up into what happens, as far as the business side of it. It's out of my control," he answered.
His role next season? "I haven't really thought about my role. I just think that I'm going to come in being the best Brandon Bass I can be, and that's all I can take care of," Bass said.
All this talk of rebuilding and tanking? "I don't really try to be too smart of a guy, as far as thinking about basketball and being an analyst. I just take care of myself," he said.
Sipping a yogurt smoothie and looking typically fit, Bass exchanged greetings with members of Boston's summer staff, spent some time behind the team bench at the start of an afternoon tilt with the Houston Rockets, then had his first face-to-face meeting with new head coach Brad Stevens.
Here's the thing about Bass: He's the consummate pro. He's always in top shape, he always plays hard, he rarely opens his mouth and he's proven time and again that he can be an extremely valuable player.
But here's the problem: Bass owns a high salary number ($6.45 million next season) at a position with a growing logjam in Boston. The Celtics have drafted four big men over the past two drafts, including forward Jared Sullinger, who took over Bass' starting job at power forward last season before back woes ended his rookie campaign.
Bass, who yo-yoed in and out of the starting lineup last season, rarely complained about his situation. His stats suffered as his playing time dipped by four minutes per game -- this in the first season of a three-year, $19.4 million contract extension -- but he thrived late when Kevin Garnett got injured, and he was one of Boston's best players in the postseason (particularly defensively when asked to guard New York's Carmelo Anthony).
When the Celtics talk about the future, players and staff point to a young core they hope can keep the team afloat. When that core is cited, the names checked often include Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Sullinger. Sometimes role players Courtney Lee and rookie Kelly Olynyk get mentioned, too.
And Bass, much like his on-court contributions, flies quietly under the radar, which only makes you wonder if he's part of the team's future.
At 28, Bass projects to be one of the oldest players on the roster next season; of Boston's returning players, only Shavlik Randolph is older. Even with just two years of experience in Boston, Bass is one the longer-tenured players.
But his salary leaves his future a bit uncertain. With younger, cheaper options at his position, which would again limit his role, it could help Boston unclog its salary structure to move Bass for either an expiring deal or future assets.
In a rare offseason in which Bass, who has played for four teams in eight NBA seasons, should be enjoying some security, the question looms about whether he's got long-term roots in Boston.
Not surprisingly, Bass brushes off any chatter about his future.
"I've just got to take care of myself, to be ready to succeed in whatever situation that presents itself," Bass said. Asked if he thought the Celtics would make more moves this offseason, Bass added, "I don't know. I've got kids, man. … They don't pay me enough to do all that. I've just got to play basketball."
Bass clearly prefers to stay out of the spotlight, and he laughed when reporters playfully chided him about recently joining Twitter and becoming a social media star. Bass said he's been splitting time between Florida and his native Louisiana while working out for next season.
If he's part of Boston's future, he likes what the team has left. "I just think that what we've got, we can win with it," he said. "We've got a great young group, and we could build, so I'm ready to build."
The question is whether the Celtics desire to build with Bass. At summer league, he got an up-close glimpse of Olynyk, a 7-footer who has shown he has NBA-ready talents and will be looking to eat up some of those available minutes at Bass' position.
One thing is certain: Bass will go back into summer hibernation, work his tail off and be ready to give 100 percent wherever he reports in late September.
"I just need to be Brandon Bass and do my job," he said. "Come in ready, come in good shape and contribute any way I can."