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Celtics notebook

Ainge braces for free agency

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Marc J. Spears
Globe Staff / June 25, 2008

As unpredictable as tonight's NBA draft could be, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge expects free agency to be even more so, especially for his team.

Boston owns the 30th and 60th selections in the draft, and free agency begins Tuesday. The NBA champions are expected to have several free agents in forward James Posey, forward-center P.J. Brown, center Scot Pollard, and guards Eddie House, Sam Cassell, and Tony Allen. Ainge said Brown is leaning toward retirement.

"We hope to sign a couple of them for sure, but time will tell on that," said Ainge during a teleconference yesterday. "We don't know. A lot of times when you have a championship season a lot of players want to take advantage of that and really catapult their career and go on to bigger roles and bigger paychecks. We'll see. We have our plan and ideas on what we want to do. But we also have to manage our payroll and our roster spots., not only for this year but for next year and the year after."

Posey's agent, Mark Bartelstein, has said his client will opt out of the final year of his two-year deal and become a free agent. The 6-foot-8-inch, 217-pounder played a key role off the bench for the Celtics and was a Sixth Man of the Year candidate.

"We want James back. That's my position," Ainge said. "We need to come to an agreement, what is a fair agreement with him. That process will start on July 1 when he can go test the free agent market and see what's available, just weigh his options and choices because I'm sure he'll have choices."

The Celtics have a midlevel exception available, expected to be about $5.8 million, as well as biannual and veteran exceptions, too. Bartelstein said yesterday that Posey "still wants to be there [in Boston]" despite the Celtics' limitations without "Bird Rights" (being able to re-sign one of their own free agents if he has played three seasons without being waived or changing teams as a free agent). The Celtics can not re-sign Posey for more than the midlevel exception. Bartelstein also said the 31-year-old would be interested in a long-term deal and hopes to get a pact done quickly.

"[Posey] loves it there," Bartelstein said. "He loves everything about it, from ownership to Danny to Doc [Rivers] to the players. It was just a great experience every which way and it was a tough decision that he agonized over with teams pursuing him last year when he took a leap of faith with the Celtics.

"He'd love to be back, but he doesn't have Bird Rights, which makes it a little more difficult. But we're certain to work at it and hopefully the Celtics want him back like he wants to be back."

Although Ainge said the 38-year-old Brown is expected to retire after 15 NBA seasons, he plans on touching base with him during free agency.

"P.J. is of the mind-set that his career is over, but he hasn't completely, completely cleared the books," said Ainge . "But that's where he is leaning. But we'll talk as he gets home, gets settled, and July 1 rolls around. We may have some more discussions."

Workout canceled

Ainge said a workout with French swingman Nicolas Batum was canceled because of a health issue with the player, but he remains on the Celtics' list of prospects. Batum's draft stock has fallen from potential lottery pick to possibly out of the first round because of concerns about his heart. "We will be researching [his health] during the next 36 hours before the draft to see what his condition is," Ainge said . . . On the possibility of Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins playing for a select team that will scrimmage against the United States Olympic team in Las Vegas July 21-24, Ainge said, "I want to talk to them about it and see where they are physically and health-wise. It could be a good opportunity." . . . Paul Pierce appeared on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" last night.

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