After a day of silence, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed Sunday morning that Kevin Garnett would return to the team with a contract extension.
“Kevin will return,” he said. “The deal is not done but Kevin will return, yes. I’m certain Kevin will return. It eliminates a lot of contingency plans.”
Yet, there was something more pressing on Ainge’s mind and that was the perception the Celtics are willing to let Ray Allen sign with another team. Ainge said he was on the phone with Allen’s representatives after midnight Saturday and wants the shooting guard to return.
“We want Ray back in the worst way,” Ainge said. “I think Ray knows we’re interested in him. I don’t know (about the competition) but he very well could (have competition). But we really want Ray back.”
The Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat are among the teams expected to pursue Allen. A source told ESPN’s Chris Broussard that the Celtics are willing to give Allen a deal worth $12 million for two years. The most Miami can offer Allen is a one-year contract for $3 million.
Ainge said Allen underwent successful surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle and there were more spurs that initially thought.
“It was amazing that Ray was even able to play at all throughout the playoffs,” Ainge said. “We feel like he will fully recover shortly. I think he’ll be playing basketball within the next few weeks, be able to be back in the gym, shooting.”
Ainge said he believes because the Celtics were able to negotiate with Garnett — who was coming off a three-year contract extension — before the July 1 deadline and not Allen gave the perception they were not interested in Allen. Ainge said because Garnett was coming off a contract of three years or more, he was able to speak numbers with the Celtics before July 1.
Allen was coming off a two-year extension and was not eligible to take financial specifics until Saturday at midnight.
“We’ve been talking to Kevin for the last week,” Ainge said. “With every one of our other free agents, we can’t.”