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Celtics re-sign Dooling

Stiemsma gone to Timberwolves

Keyon Dooling will once again serve as Rajon Rondo’s primary backup. Keyon Dooling will once again serve as Rajon Rondo’s primary backup. (BARRY CHIN/GLOBE STAFF)
By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / July 25, 2012
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The Celtics Tuesday officially lost center Greg Stiemsma to the Timberwolves, but they did re-sign guard Keyon Dooling to a one-year contract, according to an NBA source.

Boston rescinded its qualifying offer to Stiemsma, making him an unrestricted free agent and allowing him to sign with the Timberwolves, who offered him a contract in the neighborhood of $3 million per season. Stiemsma was plucked from the NBADL’s Sioux Falls Skyforce in December and briefly became a sensation with the Celtics before settling into a backup role.

Because Stiemsma was a restricted free agent, the Celtics had the right to match an offer from another club, but the re-signing of Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, and Jeff Green and the additions of Jason Terry and Courtney Lee took up all of their salary cap space. All they had to offer Stiemsma was their biannual midlevel exception, which begins at $1.95 million. But with Chris Wilcox on board, the Celtics were hesitant to make that financial commitment.

Because the Timberwolves’ offer was more than the biannual, the Celtics would have had to create salary cap space to make a counteroffer, and they responded by rescinding their $1.05 million qualifying offer.

“Boston was not in a position to match, even if they had not rescinded the qualifying offer,” Stiemsma’s agent, Mike Naiditch said. “It was a great ride with the Celtics. He’s relieved that he has a job and he feels good. If all things had worked out with the rules being what they are, the Celtics couldn’t pay Greg his fair market value and he knew it and there’s really nothing anyone could have done about it.”

The Celtics were able to get Dooling back at the league minimum after there had been some initial interest in him from the Wizards, who signed former UConn standout and Pacer A.J. Price to be their backup point guard. Dooling again will be Rajon Rondo’s backup and mentor after an uneven first season in Boston that ended positively.

After an injury plagued first half of last season, Dooling cemented himself as Rondo’s primary reserve and impressed coach Doc Rivers with his defensive intensity and occasional 3-point shooting. He canned 11 3-pointers in 20 postseason games and scored 10 points in a Game 4 victory over the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.

Dooling’s return likely will please Rondo, as they developed a close relationship and shared long conversations about basketball at their neighboring lockers.

With the signing of Dooling and Jason Collins and the free agent additions of Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith, the Celtics may be close to completing their roster. But they also still have the biannual exception to offer a potential free agent.

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe.

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