Ainge: Celtics want Green back

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Ainge: Celtics want Green back

ALLSTON Although no deal has been finalized, the Celtics and Jeff Green's agent sound as though it's a matter of when -- not if -- he'll officially be back in a Celtics uniform.

"We intend to have Jeff back," said Danny Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations. "Nothing is done, but we intend to have him back. We're going to enter a contract with him hopefully near the end of the moratorium."

Teams were able to discuss contracts with free agents on July 1, but can not enter into a signed agreement until July 11.

Ainge added, "I feel good about Jeff and where he's at. He wants to be back. We want him back. And we're working to make that happen."

Green's agent, David Falk, was in town for the introductory press conference for another of his clients, C's first-round pick Jared Sullinger.

When asked about Green re-signing with the Celtics, Falk said, "I'd like to get it done as soon as possible. This is his number one desired destination."

Although Green hasn't spent much time with the C's since arriving via trade from Oklahoma City in 2011, the connection the forward has established with the players and the franchise is undeniable.

After it was learned that he had a heart condition that would require surgery and keep him off the court for the entire 2011-12 season, his teammates took it harder than expected.

Kevin Garnett, the emotional catalyst of the Celtics, could not hide his disappointment and sadness at the start of last season when it was clear that Green would not be able to play.

"Jeff's our brother," Garnett said. "We want him around."

And around, he was.

After his surgery in January and the necessary recovery, Green wasted little time returning to Boston where he underwent most of his rehabilitation.

He was around the practice facility, and at regular season and playoff games.

In many ways, it was like he never was gone other than when it was time to play.

"That's kind of how it is around here," Celtics guard Avery Bradley told CSNNE.com earlier this season. "You hear Kevin talk about it all the time, a brotherhood it really is like that around here."

And then there's the relationship between Green and head coach Doc Rivers, which both have repeatedly said is very strong.

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

BOSTON – When you look at Avery Bradley’s growth this season, seeing the tremendous strides he has made offensively is clear.

But at the heart of Bradley’s game remains a desire to dominate a matchup as a defender, something that was alive and well on Monday as he made his return to the floor after missing the four previous games with an Achilles strain.

Bradley’s defense would prove instrumental in Boston’s 108-98 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

He was 2-for-9 from the field and played nearly 33 minutes against Hornets which is just a couple minutes under his season average of court time.

Usually he’s responsible for providing a boost at both ends of the floor.

But considering his long lay-off, it was clear early on that he was locked in defensively more so than looking to get back on track shooting the ball.

“You take any type of games off in this league, your rhythm and all that you gotta get it back,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.

Even though his shots weren’t falling, Bradley was on top of his game defensively while guarding 6-foot-8 Nicolas Batum who is six inches taller but never was a factor on Monday.

Batum finished with eight points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked what he got out of Bradley in his return to action.

“I thought he (Bradley) was great,” Stevens told CSNNE.com. “He did everything we needed him to do. We knew there would be a little bit of rust (shooting the ball), but that’s part of you playing your way back into it.”

As far as Bradley’s stifling defense on Batum, Stevens said, “You have to do that against Batum. I thought Avery did a really good job of that. It’s a hard matchup no matter what way you go. Batum, giving up inches to him. He (Bradley) was there on the catch all night.”

And as Bradley gradually gets back into a flow, he’ll regain the form offensively that made him one of the NBA’s better two-way players this season.