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Danny Ainge: Avery Bradley ‘is a big part of our future’ as Celtics extend qualifying offer

06.30.14 at 4:17 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Danny Ainge doesn’t want Avery Bradley going anywhere.

Whether that means Monday’s qualifying offer from Ainge to the fourth-year NBA guard is enough to make Bradley a permanent fixture in Boston remains to be seen.

On Monday, the Celtics offered Bradley a qualifying offer worth an estimated $3.6 million as they try to retain his rights in Boston. The move itself, without any agreement on a long-term deal, makes Bradley a restricted free agent. The bigger benefit of Monday’s offer is the ability of the Celtics to match any offer made to the 23-year-old defensive shutdown guard.

Before the 2013-14 season, Bradley reportedly turned down a four-year, $24 million contract extension from the Celtics as he anticipated his shot at restricted free agency this summer. Bradley, who played only 60 games due to various injuries, averaged a career-high 14.9 points per game while shooting 44 percent from the field.

The real cost of Boston’s offer Monday is the so-called “cap hold.” Ainge and the Celtics will have to set aside 250 percent of Bradley’s previous salary or approximately $6.3 million.

“It would mean a lot,” Ainge said Monday of keeping Bradley in the fold. “I think Avery can be a very key player in us winning the championship. He does things that other players can’t do. And his shooting continues to improve and we have all seen in the past his terrific defensive abilities. I think Avery is a big part of this.

“Avery is a big part of our future. You obviously need three guards that are going to play significant minutes. We also think Marcus can play with Phil Pressey. Phil can play with Rondo and Phil can play with Avery. I think that because of the versatility of Rondo and Marcus, that probably allows that versatility. Listen, there are a lot of guys in our league that are small forwards, especially bench small forwards that are 6-5, guys are that are basically wing players that are ‘2’ guards. I think there’s a time and a place in a game where you could see three guards that could be playing. I see those guys being able to playing very well together and compliment each other.”

Hours earlier, speaking at his own skills academy at UMass-Boston, Bradley did nothing to dispel the notion that he wants to return to the Celtics long-term.

“I haven’€™t been worried about [free agency],” said Bradley. “I’€™ve been worried about getting better. I try not to think about anything I can’€™t control. All I can do is continue to try to get better every single day, and I know everything else will work out.

“We really haven’t [discussed] any numbers or anything. Obviously, I want to be here. And I let those guy know that. When the time comes, we’€™ll just see what happens, and see if we come to an agreement.”

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, NBA free agent
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