Jae Crowder: Returning To Celtics ‘What I Wanted’; Knee Is ‘100 Percent’

WALTHAM, Mass. — Jae Crowder’s return to the Boston Celtics became official Monday.

The 25-year-old forward put pen to paper on a five-year, $35 million contract just minutes before the Celtics held a news conference to introduce their offseason acquisitions (Amir Johnson, David Lee and Perry Jones) and reacquisitions (Crowder and Jonas Jerebko).

Buzz Williams, Crowder’s college coach at Marquette, was on hand to capture the moment.

Upon being reintroduced to the Boston media, Crowder reiterated that returning to the Celtics always was his goal.

“Talking with these guys at the end of the year, the feeling was mutual,” he said. “They wanted me to return. I kind of figured that I was going to be back here in Boston. That’s what I wanted. That’s what my team wanted. So I’m happy to be here.”

Crowder said he did have discussions with other teams — “we all know it’s a business,” he explained — and with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to ensure the Celtics were moving in a direction he was comfortable with. Had the response been another tear-down, Crowder might have ventured elsewhere.

“We talked,” he said. “I think that was the biggest thing for me, because I’m a winner. When I first got here and you guys were saying ‘tanking,’ it was bad. And I didn’t want to be a part of it, selfishly, because I don’t like losing. And I had to ask. I had to ask our direction moving forward. And he responded well, as you can see. I’m pleased with the guys that we brought in, the guys that we’ve picked up and the moves that we’re still trying to make.”

Confident the team has improved and will continue to do so, Crowder re-upped, and all signs point to him being ready for opening night after a J.R. Smith-induced knee injury in Game 4 of the Celtics’ first-round playoff series prematurely ended his season.

“Knee is 100 percent,” Crowder said. “I did rehab. I still do. I still take precautionary rehab tests and stuff, but I feel 100 percent. I could play tomorrow if I wanted to. I still do little stuff just to make sure that it doesn’t come back later on or linger or anything like that, but right now I feel 100 percent.”

Crowder said he knew almost right away that his injury would not be a long-term issue.

“Going into this summer, I didn’t want anything to be torn,” he explained. “So right after that game, I remember going to get MRIs, and everything was great. It was great news that day. So I knew that was good. You (reporters) didn’t know, of course, but I knew. I knew I was good, and Danny and everybody in the organization knew I was good after that day, too.”

Thumbnail photo via Steven Senne/Associated Press

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