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Even with $20 million in the bank, Brandon Bass still has big dreams 07.14.12 at 5:35 pm ET
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Brandon Bass is officially back with the Celtics for the 2012-13 season. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

WALTHAM — Brandon Bass was rewarded for his career year, collecting a reported free agent prize of $20 million in a three-year deal to come back to Boston.

Now, he focused on proving the Celtics spent their money wisely.

“I had other offers out, but I knew where I wanted to be and that’s back in a green jersey playing for the Celtics,” Bass said. “It’s a great organization, a great group of guys who are all about winning. I’m excited to be back.”

Danny Ainge, the club’s president of basketball operations, certainly saw enough of Bass to feel the investment is a wise one, especially with so many moving parts on the roster since the end of the season. There is a certain intangible value in familiarity, both for Bass and the team.

“Bringing Brandon back to the team was a top priority of ours after the season had ended,” Ainge said. “Brandon has improved as a player every year that he has been in the NBA and we believe that the best is yet to come from him.”

Last season, Bass had the best season of his career, averaging a 12.5 points. He became invaluable to Ainge and Doc Rivers when Jermaine O’Neal went down for the season with a bad wrist. With Kevin Garnett moving to the center position, Bass started nearly every game down the stretch, playing in 59 games, including 39 starts.

“I think I still have a long ways to go,” Bass said. “I’m ready to get back in the gym, and come back a little bit better, [actually] a lot better.”

The funny part of bringing Bass back – presumably to start next season at the big forward spot between Garnett and Paul Pierce – is he might have to win over his family more than he has to convince the Celtics.

“I’ve got big dreams,” he said. “I’m 27 now. Some of my cousins say I’m getting old, but I think I’m still young and I still got big dreams of doing big things in the league. I want to make my imprint on the organization, on a team. I think this is the perfect team.”

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Powerade gives Celtics fans figurative middle finger 07.13.12 at 1:04 pm ET
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Only a few miles north of Boston, Powerade unveiled an electronic I-93 South billboard that reads, “Congrats, LeBron. Championship has a nice ring to it,” as reported by the Boston Metro.

Just weeks after the Heat’s LeBron James averaged 33.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game to defeat the Celtics in a seven-game Eastern Conference finals, what better time for the sports drink company to remind Boston basketball fans of their most recent heartbreak? At least Butterfinger wasn’t behind dropping 900 pounds of the candy bars on Copley Square in thanks to Wes Welker for his drop in Super Bowl XLVI.

I’m guessing Gatorade sales just soared in New England. No word on James’ awareness of the Boston campaign. Maybe Zico should unveil a Kevin Garnett ad in Miami reading, “Congrats, LeBron. Suck on my coconut water.”

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Ray Allen at Heat introductory press conference: ‘It’s a sad thing for me and my family’ to leave Celtics 07.11.12 at 1:58 pm ET
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Ray Allen had plenty to smile about as he sat alongside coach Erik Spoelstra and was introduced as a member of the Heat on Wednesday in Miami. (AP)

New Heat guard Ray Allen downplayed reports of friction between himself and Rajon Rondo at his introductory press conference Wednesday afternoon in Miami. While Allen acknowledged “there’s differences” and noted that he has been in contact with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett but not Rondo this offseason, he insisted his move to Miami was not sparked by the Celtics’ enigmatic point guard.

“I haven’t spoken with him at all,” Allen said when asked about his relationship with Rondo. “I know when I came down here I texted Paul and Kevin. Those are the guys that I talked quite a bit with over the years. We shared a lot of similar philosophies. Those are the guys, when we came into Boston together, a lot was put on our shoulders as to whether or not we were going to win. So, I look back at all our time spent in Boston. We’ve had a lot of disappointments, but we’ve shared a lot of thrills. And a lot of that’s off the court.

“So, it is sad to me, knowing that I’m not going to be with those guys anymore. But I’m looking forward to what we can do here in this organization, being a teammate of LeBron [James], being a teammate of Dwyane [Wade], Chris Bosh I just met, Joel Anthony, those guys are all excited to have me here.”

When asked again about Rondo, Allen said: “I can’t say it affected my decision. I think as teammates we were brothers. I’m around them more than I’m around my own family. There’s differences. We all have differences. Paul, he eats Corn Flakes, I might not like Corn Flakes. That’s just part of who we are as individuals. At the end of the day we have to buy into what the coach believes is best for us. As players we have to put our differences aside.”

Allen talked in more detail about the difficulty he had in making the decision and how it affected his former teammates.

“When I was knew I was leaning toward Miami, I actually sent a text out to Kevin, just to let him know,” Allen said. “I just remember this process in ’08 when [James] Posey left us. He left and we just really wanted him back. He went to New Orleans and we didn’t get a chance to try to get Danny to give him a little something extra, or whatever it was. I didn’t want that to be the case with me in this situation.

“So, I texted Kevin, I told him, I said, ‘Hey, I’m leaning this way. I just want you to know,’ without getting into the finite details of the deal. He said, ‘Well, Danny [Ainge] will step up to the plate and do whatever you need him to do.’ I was like, ‘Well, we’ll see.’ That was somewhat of the small discussion that we had.

“I just wanted those guys to know that I appreciate everything they’ve done for me, and it was a joy and a pleasure to play with them.”

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Wyc Grousbeck on M&M: ‘I think we’ve gotten better’ despite losing Ray Allen 07.09.12 at 3:06 pm ET
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Wyc Grousbeck

Celtics managing partner and CEO Wyc Grousbeck joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk in-depth about Ray Allen‘s departure to Miami.

Allen chose the rival Heat over the Celtics late last week for less money, surprising a majority of Celtics fans.

“I was surprised, but I wasn’t utterly shocked,” Grousbeck said. “Let’s face it, he was not necessarily going to start. As Doc put it, he felt somehow that he was slighted possibly in the recruiting process in this offseason. … If Doc’s report is correct, Ray felt he was second fiddle to first, Avery Bradley and then Kevin Garnett, so he decided to go to our arch-rival for less than half the money, so be it.”

Added Grousbeck: “I would not blame him [for his negative emotions]. I’ve said to friends of mine and people that I work with over the last few days that the trade deadline and the fact that he was almost traded, it would bother me, if I was Ray. And he has every right to go down to Miami. And we have every right to try and beat those guys.”

There have been rumors circling that Allen and Rajon Rondo did not get along.

“Let’s put it this way, if Ray had come back … he would have played fine with Rondo,” Grousbeck said. “There was a number put out and there were also emotional issues out there. There was a price tag put out there [reported to be $27 million for three years], it just wasn’t one we could get to.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On Allen’s legacy: “Let’s put it this way, Red Auerbach told me personally and told players in front of me, ‘It’s the name on the front of the jersey, not on the back.’ I think Ray always put the Celtics first and it was never about himself and I think if we’re going to be successful we have to keep doing it that way. We’re going to band together, we’re not going to cut down Ray Allen in any way. We’re going to say the name on the front of your jersey just changed, but you’re always a Celtic to us.”

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Ric Bucher on M&M: Tyler Hansbrough is ‘best-case scenario for Jared Sullinger’ 07.02.12 at 1:10 pm ET
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Ric Bucher

ESPN’s Ric Bucher joined Mut & Merloni Monday morning to discuss Kevin Garnett’s contract, what the future holds for Ray Allen, what the Celtics’ expectations should be for Jared Sullinger, and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

While he didn’t think it was a surprise that Garnett would return to Boston, Bucher said Garnett’s reported three-year, $34 million contract offer was far more than expected.

The deal was “pretty surprising considering the length and the size of it,” Bucher said. “We all know that KG has been battling through a number of things the last few years, and while I thought that [the Celtics] might make him a healthy offer, I never expected that it would be that long.”

Bucher said he felt that Garnett’s effectiveness away from the basket, with his height and shooting ability, was a major factor in the Celtics’ decision to offer the 36-year-old a three-year deal.

“KG has demonstrated with his length and with that silky jumper that he can still be effective,” Bucher said. “And with that size and ability to space the floor, it doesn’t really come down to athleticism. He can probably make that shot over guys when he is 40 years old, and now we may get the chance to see him prove it.”

As for his prediction regarding the Ray Allen sweepstakes, Bucher said he’s come full circle since Garnett agreed to come back, at first believing Allen would definitely return, then wondering whether the Suns would lure him away with a huge contract. However, Bucher said he ultimately he made up his mind when he heard Celtics coach Doc Rivers’ comments.

“Doc coming out and saying, ‘Hey, I feel like Ray’s going to be here,’ and knowing Doc usually doesn’t talk empty-handed in those sorts of tones, and knowing just the general relationship between KG, Ray, Doc and Paul [Pierce], I’m back around to finding it hard to believe that with KG in the fold for that period of time that they’re going to let Ray Allen walk.”

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What Kevin Garnett’s return means for Celtics 06.30.12 at 12:18 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett is coming back to the Celtics. (AP)

Kevin Garnett arrived in Boston five years ago with the promise of rebirth for a franchise that had grown stale. He was a savior then — plucked from Minnesota for almost half a roster’s worth of young players and draft picks – and he was treated as such.

On a team of prideful individuals, Garnett’s persona stood out as the defining one. Dedicated to the point of insanity and private to the point of aloofness, Garnett kept close watch over his basketball family and kept everyone else at bay. Something changed over the course of those five years, culminating last season in a Garnett that was slightly more accessible and endearingly human.

No one could have predicted five years ago that Garnett would ultimately become an institution, but here we are. He’s become one of us: a Bostonian in more than just an address and a Celtic in more than just a uniform. When his contract expired, there was never a question of going anywhere else, it was only a matter of whether he’d come back for more.

We have our answer, as Garnett will sign a new deal, reportedly for three years and $34 million, roughly half the monetary value of his last contract, and assuring he will be in a Celtics uniform for almost a decade.

Garnett’s new deal sets in motion an offseason that now takes on a defined shape. The Celtics are still contenders, and team president Danny Ainge has flexibility to build the rest of the roster. Salary cap economics being what they are, Ainge is limited to a degree, but he has a host of options at his disposal that weren’t as obvious 24 hours ago. Read the rest of this entry »

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Danny Ainge on Kevin Garnett: ‘Don’t really have any conclusions’ 06.29.12 at 7:06 am ET
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Kevin Garnett

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said that, with free agency set to commence on Sunday, the Celtics remain uncertain about the future of Kevin Garnett. The Celtics have an exclusive negotiating window with Garnett through the end of June; free agents can start negotiating with other teams on July 1, with a moratorium on signings from July 1-10.

“I’ve been talking with Kevin and his people and don’t really have any conclusions yet,” Ainge said after Thursday night’s NBA draft. “That’s our No. 1 option. One reason is because he’s such a valuable player, and one reason is because he’s the only guy we can talk to.”

The 36-year-old averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in 60 games during the 2011-12 season.

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