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In the 2007-08 season, out of seemingly nowhere, Brandon Bass enjoyed a fantastic jump in production in his first year with the Dallas Mavericks. After two frustrating years with the Hornets, Bass went on an efficient four-year run over his time in Dallas and with the Orlando Magic that somehow came to a halt in 2011-12 in his first year with Boston. Bass' rebounding stayed the same, and he turned it over far less, but his decrease in shooting efficiency made his time with Boston's regular-season run a bit of a letdown.
Until the playoffs, of course, when Bass once again ripped off his Clark Kent suit to reveal a … slightly more productive turn in Boston's 20-game postseason run. Still, most of his work came in front of quite a large cable audience, and Bass' per game numbers (over 11 points and five rebounds in 30 minutes a night) at his pre-prime age (27 years) would make him ripe for the plucking by a team a little behind the curve looking to win over fans who may have only been introduced to Brandon in mid-May. Which is why the man is opting out of the final year of his contract, set to pay him $4.2 million in 2012-13. It's a trend you're seeing quite a bit of, as we head into the 2012 offseason, even if Bass' agent Tony Dutt (as explained to CSNNE.com's A. Sherrod Blakely) promises that potentially leaving Boston doesn't mean the end of Brandon's time in Boston:
"All indications I've been given is that the interest in getting something done goes both ways, so we'll see. But Boston is definitely where Brandon wants to be."
Amongst all the opt-out candidates (that we'll delve into further on Friday), Bass' below-average salary that was set to pay a player as he heads into his physical prime seems like the most logical thing to opt out of. Though his production did dip during the regular season at age 26, and didn't really jump up to his previous standards in the postseason (which he turned 27 right before), 27 is still 27. Whoever signs Bass this summer is paying for the right to employ this humble scoring forward through his prime, coming off a season that saw him add 20 playoff games to his 48 career postseason appearances.
The question now is whether or not the Celtics will be the ones stepping up to Bass' particular plate. Bass' representatives would like him back in Boston, or at least they're saying as much, but they above all should know that it often takes a desperate team looking to make a show ("you remember this guy from ESPN, back in May, right?") once they swing and miss on other free agents to pay Bass the absolute most.
On top of that, the Celtics don't appear to have a concrete plan in place (how could they?) for how to move forward in an offseason with a mix of free-agent veterans and potential cap space to use on a terrible free-agent class (sorry, Brandon, but you're amongst the "stars," here) in a league that always seems a breath or two from blowing by them. And even though the Celtics more or less signed off on the fact that Bass and Kevin Garnett don't play the same position anymore midseason, the idea that both Boston and Garnett are in limbo about their own hopes and expectations and how those relate to each other might delay things.
All while another team swoops in, to pick up a player that is used to bouncing around probably won't stop even if his by-then fifth team signs him to an extended deal. Which wouldn't be the worst thing for any side, in this instance.
Brandon Bass is a good, but not great player who is about to give some team the best years of his NBA life. Those years, though, are still probably best served as the first big man off a team's bench, and not a starting power forward. His contract should reflect as such, though that doesn't mean he made a mistake in opting out of his current one.
On the contrary, it was the obvious and smart move.