Not Going Anywhere: Celtics Re-Sign Bradley
BOSTON – There was never a doubt as to whether Avery Bradley, a restricted free agent as of July 1, would return to the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics wanted him, and he wanted the Celtics.
The two sides finalized a deal Tuesday night that had reportedly been agreed upon shortly after free agency began at the onset of July. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Bradley is expected to don green and white for the foreseeable future.
“He keeps getting better and is still far from reaching his ceiling,” Danny Ainge said in the team’s official press release. "We're ecstatic to have him back."
The Celtics and Bradley had an opportunity to strike a deal on a contract extension prior to Nov. 1 of last season. They did not come to terms on a deal, but both parties had maintained for months that they had a long-term partnership ahead of them.
From Ainge’s standpoint, signing Bradley to a new deal is the most recent move he has made to return the Celtics to championship contention. Ainge views Bradley and his game-changing defense as a major piece to the title puzzle.
“We see Avery as a key part of our chase of Banner 18,” Ainge said on Tuesday."
Boston's president of basketball operations detailed his inspiration for that vision when he spoke earlier this month.
“He does things that other players can’t do, and his shooting continues to improve," said Ainge. “We’ve all seen in the past his terrific defensive abilities. I think Avery is a big part of this.”
And Bradley wants to be a part of this, which may have been the most important part of this negotiation. He stated flat-out at his basketball camp earlier this month, “I want to be here, and I let them know that.”
The reasons for which Bradley wanted to (and will) remain in Boston are plentiful.
The 23-year-old guard knows how magical TD Garden can feel when the Celtics are contending for a title; he was a member of the 2011-12 team that pushed Miami to the brink of elimination in the Eastern Conference Finals. He also knows how magical the city of Boston can feel when one of its teams wins a title; both the Bruins (2011) and the Red Sox (2013) have won championships since Bradley moved to Boston.
Titles aren’t the only goals Bradley will chase during this contract. One would assume that he would also love to take the next step in the NBA and become a true star.
There is no better place for him to do that than Boston. This is where he has developed from a seldom-used, wide-eyed rookie into an All-Defensive Second Team player who scored 14.9 PPG and shot 39.5 percent from 3-point range last season.
The Celtics have coached him into being a very good NBA player. Now they can coach him into being a great NBA player.
Ainge is confident that the team will do just that, thanks in large part to Bradley’s work ethic. The youngster works tirelessly to improve his game and it has paid off over the years.
Bradley was a complete afterthought as a rookie. He did not participate in training camp due to an ankle injury and barely played during the regular season. He put in the time and effort that following offseason and exploded onto the scene in 2012 when Ray Allen went down with bone spurs. With the exception of a couple of injuries, Bradley’s career has been on the upswing ever since.
Last July’s trade with the Nets, which sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn, thrust Bradley into a much more prominent role on Boston’s team. He answered the bell by averaging a career-best 14.9 and ranking as a top-25 3-point shooter in the league (39.5 percent).
Boston clearly believes that last season was just the tip of the iceberg for Bradley. He has the potential to become the league’s most dominant perimeter defender. He has the ability to become a feared 3-point marksman who can also score off the dribble and score 15 to 20 points a night.
That’s undoubtedly the type of player Boston wants on its side as it chases a return to elite status. Fortunately for the Celtics, the feeling was mutual.