Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is very interested in signing undrafted forward Gilbert Brown, according to a report from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Brown, a fifth-year senior from the University of Pittsburgh, said Ainge and other members of the Boston front office were on the phone with him throughout Thursday night's NBA draft. Though the C's ultimately passed on Brown in favor of Purdue products JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore, the 6-foot-6 small forward said the interest from the Celtics is still present.
"I'm definitely encouraged that the Celtics were interested," Brown told the Post-Gazette. "I was talking to them all day. They said it was the flip of a coin when it came time to make the [second-round] pick."
While Boston reportedly is not alone in showing interest, Brown said Ainge's 30-minute conversation with him Friday morning has him believing he will be wearing green and white next season.
"He really encouraged me," Brown said. "He told me I could be the Wesley Matthews of this draft. Of all the teams I worked out for, Danny was the most excited to have me in. He really feels like I can make their team and contribute the first year. He was really confident in my ability. He felt like I stood out in my workout."
A potential roadblock in Brown's signing with the C's is the NBA labor dispute. The owners will lock out the players on July 1 if the league and the players union do not come to an agreement before midnight on June 30. Brown said if the NBA enters a lockout he will likely sign a contract with a team in Europe.
After his 2006-07 season was plagued by injuries and forced him into a medical redshirt, Brown recovered to post consistent numbers for perennial Big East contender Pittsburgh. The Harrisburg, Pa., native averaged 8.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game in four seasons for the Panthers. Last season Brown posted career highs in points (11.3), rebounds (4.4) and assists (2.8) for a Pitt team that earned a No. 1 seed to the NCAA Tournament.
His college resume aside, Brown said he made his mark during pre-draft camps.
"Hands down, I was the best player at every workout I had," he said. "The one workout in Phoenix had Jordan Hamilton [drafted No. 26 by Dallas] and Klay Thompson [drafted No. 11 by Golden State]. I hit all of my shots and no one could score on me. It was one of the best displays of my ability."