Found July 15, 2012 on Boston Sports Then & Now:

Jeff Green (left), Jason Terry (second from left), Brandon Bass, and Chris Wilcox (right) look to form a strong core for the Boston Celtics in 2012-’13.

On Saturday, the Boston Celtics announced the return of Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, and Chris Wilcox. Jason Terry and Jeff Green attended the news conference, but their deals are not finalized. Danny Ainge also commented on Ray Allen leaving the Celtics to join the Miami Heat.

Garnett was the biggest priority for the Celtics and he agreed to a deal before free agency started on July 1st. Garnett’s agreement is reportedly for three years and $36 million. He is expected to play both power forward and center. Doc Rivers and the coaching staff will try to keep Garnett around 30 minutes during the season. Since Garnett was acquired in July 2007, he has changed the culture of the organization with his work ethic as well as his defensive intensity. In 2011-’12, Garnett averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.02 blocks. He was the only legitimate center the Celtics had during the postseason and his plus/minus was absurd when he was on the court compared to when he was off the court. While Garnett did not take part in the news conference, he wrote a press release that said, “I’m more than happy and I’m excited to be back.”

Bass has never spent more than two years with a team in his career, which means his three-year pact with the Celtics provides him with comfort in stability. He was traded from the Orlando Magic for Glen Davis and Von Wafer before the season started in December. The 6’9’’ forward came off the bench early last season because he struggled with defensive rotations, but his scoring off the bench was needed with the early season injuries to several players. When the Celtics moved Bass to the starting lineup in the second half of the season, the Celtics went 24-10 to end the year and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals. He scored 27 points in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers, and that was monumental in helping the Celtics overcome a pesky Sixers squad.

Wilcox was just starting to develop a rapport with point guard Rajon Rondo on the fast break and provide hustle points for the Celtics before he underwent a heart procedure in March. The 10-year-center is believed to be playing for the veteran minimum at $1.35 million. He averaged 7.2 points and 6.0 rebounds in February. Wilcox, 29, is expected to be fully ready for training camp. He said that he never wanted to leave Boston after the abnormality was found in his heart.

Green and Terry’s contracts are not official yet because the Celtics are working on a sign-and-trade with the Dallas Mavericks, Terry’s former team. The problem is the Celtics do not have enough required assets for the Mavericks. Apparently, the Celtics are trying to bring a third team and that team is rumored to be the Toronto Raptors. The Celtics have plenty of non-guaranteed contracts in E’Twuan Moore, JaJuan Johnson, Kris Joseph, and Sean Williams that could be valued in a sign-and-trade possibility. Both Green and Terry are expected to have their deals become official at some point this week.

Terry is excited to be a part of the Celtics organization and he is ready to fill whatever capacity the team needs. He could fill both spots in the backcourt.

In his first public comments since Allen’s departure, Ainge was “grateful for the success that Allen brought both on and off the court. ” “I don’t feel like we lost Ray; I feel like he left us,” said, Ainge.

The Celtics are reportedly interested in Houston Rockets guard Courtney Lee. The 6’5’’ inch guard talked with Rivers last week during the Orlando Summer League and has mutual interest in joining the Celtics. Lee was a restricted free agent, but the Rockets chose not to tender an offer, which has made him an unrestricted free agent. If Terry comes in a sign-and-trade, this would help the Celtics bring in Lee at the mid-level exception. The Celtics could also be in on the services of Darko Milicic, formerly of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Milicic cleared waivers after the Timberwolves gave him the amnesty clause. Despite never living up to his promise as the number 2 pick in the 2003 Draft, Milicic can be utilized in shortened minutes with his shot-blocking ability and being paired with Garnett on the defensive end because the 27-year-old, 7-footer is offensively limited. The Celtics have depth in the frontcourt with Garnett, Bass, Wilcox, Jared Sullinger, and Fab Melo. As last year showed, there is no such thing as having too much beef inside.  The Celtics can offer Milicic the bi-annual exception at about $1.95 million, but based on Milicic’s skills, the better bet would be to use the bi-annual exception for someone else more valuable.

Milicic would essentially replace Greg Stiemsma on the roster if Stiemsma leaves. The Timberwolves had talks with Stiemsma last week, but the Wolves are waiting to see if the Portland Trail Blazers will match Nicolas Batum’s offer sheet of $45 million over five years. If Batum stays with the Blazers, the Wolves would have more money to sign Stiemsma if they really want him.

The news conference generated excitement over the two  Celtics players who could have made a difference on last year’s team while it gave hope that the future looks bright for the Celtics to continue to compete with contenders like the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.

 


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