Bass to hit free agency, hopes to remain with Celtics


BOSTONYou can now officially add Brandon Bass to the list of free agent targets for the Celtics.

While there has been considerable speculation as to what Bass will do this summer, his agent tells that the 6-foot-8 forward plans to not opt-in to the final year of his contract, and thus test the free agent waters.

However, all indications are that Bass is hoping to return to the Celtics with a multi-year deal.

"Oh absolutely," his agent Tony Dutt said when asked if Boston was his client's first choice. "Without question, he would love to go back."

The decision to not pick up the final year of his contract, worth 4.25 million, is driven by Bass' desire to sign a long-term deal with the C's.

Following Boston's Game 7 loss to Miami, he told reporters about his desire to return next season to Boston.

"I would love to be back here," he said at the time. "The fans here are unbelievable. For any player, this organization is the organization that you want to play for."

But Bass has been in this league long enough to know that ultimately, a player has to make decisions that in the long run are best for him and his family. Hopefully those decisions result in the player playing for the team of his choice, too.

The only issue left to resolve -- and it's a big one -- is determining Bass' value.

He was due to earn 4.25 million next season.

But in all likelihood, the Celtics would have to offer him something that at the very least was in the same neighborhood or higher, of the four-year, 26 million contract signed by Glen Davis when the C's sent him via sign-and-trade to Orlando for Bass.

Bass has been reluctant to say much about his contract status.

"I'm no different than anyone else," Bass told recently. "I'm going to do what's best for me and my family. Hopefully that'll keep me here in Boston. We'll see."

When Bass signed a four-year, 16 million deal with Orlando in 2009, Dutt said his client could have signed elsewhere for more money. But both agreed that at the time, Orlando was the best fit.

"But I wanted to protect Brandon if things didn't work out there, or he continued to improve which we knew he would," said Dutt, explaining why he wanted Bass' fourth year to be an option. "It's part of how this business works."

For the C's, Bass averaged a career-high 12.5 points per game and 6.2 rebounds, which was also a career high.

Nowhere was Bass' growth with the Celtics more apparent than the start of Game 7 when the Celtics assigned him to begin the game defending LeBron James -- an unfathomed concept at the start of the season.

Even when he struggled at times during the regular season with his defensive assignments and rotations, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers remained firm in his belief that Bass would be fine.

"He's already a very good individual defender," Rivers said earlier this season. "If you told Brandon to just guard his guy, he's probably our best at that because he can move his feet extremely well and he can switch on smaller players."

Throughout his career, Bass has made steady strides in his all-around game.

Dutt sees that trend continuing . . . hopefully in Boston.

"We'll see this summer," Dutt said. "All indications I've been given is that the interest in getting something done goes both ways, so we'll see. But Boston is definitely where Brandon wants to be."

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