WALTHAM, Mass. — They must calculate age in dog years in Baton Rouge, La., because that is the only way 27-year-old Brandon Bass could conceivably be teased about being old when he makes a visit back home.
"Some of my cousins think I'm old, but I'm still young," Bass said with a laugh. "I've got dreams of doing big things in the league. I want to make my imprint on the organization and on the team, and I think this is the perfect team for it."
The Celtics must expect big things from Bass as well, which is why he was at their practice facility on Saturday to announce they had signed the seven-year veteran to a new contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but reports indicate it is a three-year deal worth $20 million.
In Bass, who came to Boston as part of the Glen Davis trade prior to last season, the Celtics discovered a smooth-shooting, hard-working 6-foot-9 power forward who had struggled to find the right fit in his first three stops in the NBA. He came off the bench in New Orleans and Dallas before injuries thrust him into the starting lineup for the Magic in the 2010-11 season, but never did he have a coach like Doc Rivers who encouraged him to utilize his skills, Bass said.
In a common theme among Celtics players, Bass cited his relationship with Rivers as a major reason for his success in Boston. Bass planned to call Rivers and ask which aspects of his game Rivers would like him to improve on, since Bass values his coach's opinion and because Bass has consistently improved each year in the league. That year-to-year improvement is something Bass has seen consistently in the best players he has played with in his career, from Chris Paul to Kevin Garnett.
"As a person, I want to improve in every aspect of my life, on and off the court," Bass said. "I feel like I'm just scratching the surface. With me playing on different teams and seeing different players and how hard they work, year after year they improve. That's how I want to be."
In all likelihood, Bass' improvement will consist of becoming slightly better at things he already does well. His reliable midrange jumpshot could become automatic, and his defensive rebounding could tick up a bit, too.
If Bass is feeling inspired, he could work on a few back-to-the-basket moves and try to become a step quicker on his defensive rotations, but in the meantime the Celtics have other personnel to do those things.
The Celtics might have found a forward who was more athletic or a little more polished in the post than Bass, but they were unlikely to find one who is as eager to improve. He may be right about his solid 2011-12 campaign only scratching the surface. After all, he is still young, no matter what his little cousins think.