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Celtics rebound, re-sign Allen, House

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Frank Dell'Apa
Globe Staff / July 22, 2008

The Celtics have displayed interest in free agent forward Devean George, according to an NBA source. But general manager Danny Ainge is taking a "call us, we won't call you" stance on prospective players after announcing Tony Allen and Eddie House have agreed to two-year contracts with the team.

"I'm not going to comment on any guys," Ainge said yesterday of available free agents. "I'm not chasing anybody down. I feel we have a solid team now and I'm going to take some time off."

Allen, who will be entering his fifth season with the Celtics, missed most of the 2006-07 season after tearing ligaments in his right knee midway through that season. But Allen played in 75 games last season and appears to have recovered to be in position to replace James Posey, who signed with New Orleans last week.

Allen agreed to a two-year guaranteed deal paying $2.5 million annually, according to an NBA source. The Celtics did not have to use the mid-level exception to re-sign Allen because he has been with the team three years and has not been waived. This exception is known as "Bird Rights." While awaiting Posey's signing, the Celtics opted not to make Allen a qualifying offer before free agency began July 1. Once the Celtics lost out on Posey, they focused on re-signing Allen and House.

"We've been talking to [the Celtics] ever since July 1," said Mike Higgins, Allen's agent. "Once James Posey left, we talked to a few teams, but he was comfortable there [in Boston]. He knows he will play a lot of minutes. With the other teams, he didn't really know them."

Oklahoma City was among at least five teams interested in Allen, Higgins said. But after Oklahoma City signed Utah restricted free agent guard C.J. Miles to an offer sheet, Allen focused on returning to the Celtics.

"Everyone knows he can play," Higgins said of Allen. "If he didn't blow out his knee, you wouldn't have talked about James Posey. You'd be talking about him. He would have received an extension [beforehand]."

Asked about Allen's recovery, Higgins said:

"I think it's good. He's had a few MRIs. Obviously, it's a concern for teams, it's in the back of most teams' minds. I think by the start of the season he'll be feeling good. He probably won't be wearing a knee brace. He'll be back.

"If Tony is healthy, which I think he is, he's going to replace James. If he was healthy at the beginning of last season, I don't think James would have had as big of a role as he had."

Allen missed last week's ESPY Awards - during which the Celtics received an award for Best Team - because of a prior commitment. Higgins said Allen is in Chicago now and is expected to sign his contract in Boston later this week.

The Celtics signed House to a two-year deal using some of the $5.5 million mid-level exception, paying him $2.7 million this season with a player option for $2.9 million next season, according to an NBA source.

"We talked over the weekend and got everything finalized," said Mark Bartelstein, the agent for House. "It's a good situation for both. He never wanted to leave. When you are a part of something like a championship, the choice is to defend a title, because it's a great experience. It was a matter of Danny Ainge and I agreeing on something."

Atlanta, Minnesota, and Toronto also were interested in House.

House's signing could make reserve point guard Sam Cassell expendable. Cassell, signed during the season to add experience, is a candidate to join Phoenix as a backup to Steve Nash.

Several teams have inquired about George, who played for Dallas last season and won three NBA titles with the Lakers. The Celtics have $2.8 million of mid-level exception funds available.

Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com. Marc Spears for the Globe staff contributed.

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