BOSTON -- The Celtics didn't collect any accolades at the NBA Awards Show on Monday night in Los Angeles, but there was a far more important takeaway from the festivities.
It was the presence of Aron Baynes in the audience representing the Celtics, which is not common for a player about to hit free agency after having played with a team for just one season.
But it wasn't just any season for Baynes. It was the first in which the fifth-year pro played an integral part for one of the better teams in the NBA.
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And it's a role that multiple league sources believe will continue, as they expect the Celtics to sign the veteran big man to a multiyear deal.
Baynes representing the Celtics at the awards show is another sign of the connection he made with the franchise in just one season.
One can easily surmise that the Celtics called upon Baynes to represent them for more reasons than him having some free time.
As we’ve come to see with this franchise, there’s often more to what they do than meets the eye.
Baynes was a defensive stalwart last season and is in position as an impending free agent to cash in on that strong play.
From an individual basis, Baynes has grown more in Boston than he has with any other franchise -- San Antonio included. Yes, he won a title with the Spurs in 2014, but Baynes’ role on that team was significantly different, and far less impactful, than what he did in Boston.
And that is in part why, according to multiple league sources, Baynes is expected to return to Boston next season.
Following the player’s exit interviews, Baynes made no secret about wanting to be back. And the Celtics’ brass has been clear about their intentions of bringing him back in the fold.
Sounds good for both sides, right?
But it’s what you do and not so much what you say, that has meaning.
And the image that we saw last night of Baynes with ownership at the NBA awards show, speaks volumes as to where the sides are heading into free agency next week.
Because of that, it didn’t matter that Brad Stevens and Jayson Tatum didn't win Coach of the Year and Rookie of the Year, respectively.
It was clear to us all that Boston was winning another battle; the recruitment of Baynes who is a big man void of the big name that teams tend to scurry after this time of year.
He's someone the Celtics have identified as being a key cog in the short-term with both sides hoping to be celebrating a different kind of award -- the Larry O’Brien Trophy -- next year.