WALTHAM, Mass. — It sounds like the Boston Celtics are interested in bringing back Jae Crowder.
The Celtics will extend Crowder his $1.2 million qualifying offer, making the forward a restricted free agent and giving the Celtics the ability to match any contract offers he receives from other teams, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday.
The decision did not come as a surprise, as Crowder quickly blossomed into one of the Celtics’ most important players after his midseason trade from the Dallas Mavericks.
“I think Jae was particularly good in the playoffs,” Ainge said in his end-of-season press conference. “He played well. He played with great energy and provided a lot of spark. He clearly was our best defender on LeBron (James) in the series. But I don’t know if he exceeded expectations.
“I think Jae is a player that was improving with the opportunity that he got to play for us. And I think he’s got a lot of upside still. I think he can still get better over the next few years. But we’re excited about Jae, and we’re excited about what he brings to our team, and his versatility, and his defensive ability to play a few different positions. We think he has a very bright future.”
Celtics forwards Brandon Bass, Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome also are set to hit free agency this summer, but Ainge was much less decisive when discussing their potential fates.
“Rather than going individual by individual, I would just say that we like all of them to some degree,” Ainge said. “Some of it’s just going to be dependent on numbers and roster spots and (the) draft and trades and everything else. So, I just can’t emphatically say anything about anybody other than I can emphatically say that we will definitely qualify Jae Crowder, which I think it pretty obvious. But other than that, the unrestricted free agents, it’s uncertain. We do like each one of them, and we’d welcome any one of them back at the right price.”
Crowder, who averaged 7.7 points and 3.6 assists for the Celtics this season, sprained his left ACL in Boston’s Game 4 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers but is expected back well before next season begins.
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images