Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers wants to "bring the band back together." That, apparently, now includes bringing back Ray Allen.
The Celtics have already reached agreement on a three-year, $34 million contract with Kevin Garnett. Their top priority now, Rivers said, is trying to re-sign Allen. For all the talk about the Celtics breaking up their championship core after falling a game short of reaching the NBA Finals for the third time in five years, they now seem determined to push forward with their same stars.
"We want to get the band back together and add to it," Rivers told Yahoo! Sports by phone. "We have a great locker room with no issues. Guys want to be back and want to be a part of this."
Allen has drawn interest from several teams, including the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks, and plans to take his time in making a decision. Rivers thinks Garnett's return helps the Celtics' chances of re-signing Allen. Allen and Garnett arrived in Boston in the summer of 2007 and joined Paul Pierce in forming a core that won the NBA championship their first season together.
Rivers thinks the Celtics will be the last team to get to talk to Allen before he makes his decision. Free agents can't sign contracts until July 11, but are able to make verbal commitments during the NBA's moratorium on transactions.
"We called him," Rivers said. "He lives in Boston and loves it in Boston. Ray will look around, but we will be there at the end. I'm hopeful he will re-sign."
Rivers is happy Garnett has agreed to return on a three-year contract. The last year of the deal isn't expected to be fully guaranteed.
"I'm thrilled to get him back," Rivers said. "When you see his numbers on the floor and his impact off the floor, he's as important as anyone on our team."
Allen battled ankle issues last season and was replaced in the starting lineup by Avery Bradley until a shoulder injury sidelined Bradley in the playoffs. Bradley had surgery, but might not be back until December, Rivers said. The Celtics have tried to solidify the shooting guard position by pursuing Dallas Mavericks free agent Jason Terry in addition to Allen, and Rivers said he can envision the team signing both.
Celtics president Danny Ainge spoke to Terry on Sunday. Terry also is receiving interest from the Memphis Grizzlies, the Los Angeles Clippers, Suns and Mavericks.
"We've given our pitch," Rivers said. "We're definitely in the picture and we have a lot of interest."
The Celtics used the 21st and 22nd picks in last week's draft to add a couple young big men: Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Syracuse's Fab Melo. Sullinger was considered a top five pick a year ago, but concerns about his back caused him to drop in the draft.
"I love Sullinger and I didn't think we'd ever get him," Rivers said. "It's funny when guys drop who dominate in college. Did they forget how to play?"
In addition to Allen, the Celtics have several other free agents, including forward Brandon Bass. Bass has drawn interest from several teams, but Rivers is hopeful the Celtics can keep intact as much of last season's roster as possible.
"If we can get them all, we will try to get them all," Rivers said.
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