LAS VEGAS – What looked like it might be a complete rebuilding job for the Boston Celtics in January is turning out to be more of a refurbishing effort by the somewhat surprising Eastern Conference finalists.
They are poised to keep yet another significant piece in place with the news that Jeff Green has a deal in place that will keep him in green and white, according to a report from ESPNBoston.com:
Green’s agent, David Falk, would not reveal the specific length or value of the contract, but confirmed that the details have been ironed out and a deal likely will be consummated after the leaguewide moratorium on new business lifts Wednesday.
“This is where Jeff always wanted to be,” said Falk, who continued to heap praise on the Celtics organization for the way it handled Green’s heart ailment last season.
Falk stressed that Boston’s goodwill played a major factor in his decision to return and said he’s not surprised a deal got hammered out since the two sides were on the same page from the start of the process.
Both Falk and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge expressed optimism that a contract would get done earlier this week and, after watching Ray Allen elect to sign with the Miami Heat on Friday night, the Celtics appear to have moved quickly to finalize with Green.
Green, traded to Boston in February 2011, sat out all of last season after undergoing surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm that was detected in training camp as the two sides prepared to sign a one-year, $9 million deal.
It looked like time was running out on Boston’s Big 3 as they struggled during the early stages of the lockout-shortened season, part of that due to the sudden twist of not having Green available.
But the Celtics rebounded and slugged their way to the conference finals, falling to the Heat in seven games. Instead of breaking things up with Allen, Kevin Garnett and Green all set to hit free agency, the Celtics went about trying to keep the band together.
Garnett agreed to a new three-year deal worth $36 million. Allen chose the Heat. And now Green gives them another critical piece to bolster their ranks.
And according to Falk, it was the work of Ainge and Celtics coach Doc Rivers, in particular, that helped forge a bond between an organization and player who had been brought together for only a few months after that trade:
“Jeff, when he got traded to the Celtics, he loved his experience, he wanted to prove that he’s a better player than he played when he got here (at the end of the 2010-11 season),” said Ainge, who dealt Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City in exchange for Green, Nenad Krstic, and a first-round pick (used to select Fab Melo in this year’s draft) at the 2011 trade deadline.
“He really wants to make it work and, through the whole discovery, the surgery and the rehab, it was something that was motivating him. He wanted to come back to Boston and he wanted to show his worth. Through the playoffs, he loved the atmosphere — he loved the atmosphere that was created by our fans. He loved his teammates and he just really wanted to make it work.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Falk, who last week suggested Boston distinguished itself with its handling of Green’s situation, particularly the care shown by Ainge and coach Doc Rivers.
“He’s had a lot of interest from other teams, but, as I said earlier with (Boston first-round pick and fellow Falk client) Jared (Sullinger), having managed so many great players in my career, I believe the most important thing isn’t where you have the most endorsement opportunities, where the media is the flashiest,” Falk said. “It’s being in a place where you have a great fit, and I think that one of the things that makes the fit the most effective is the relationship a player has with his coach. … And I think when you have a coach having your back, you’re halfway home. And I think the relationship that Jeff has with Doc is very special.”
With the Heat restocking in the shooting department with Allen, they’ll go into the season as everyone’s favorite to repeat as NBA champions. But they’ll get serious competition in the East from the Celtics, who will still have a Big Three of sorts in Garnett, Paul Pierce and All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo.
Throw in a healthy Green and free agent pick up Jason Terry, and the Celtics are well prepared to maintain their status among the league’s elite for at least the foreseeable future.