BOSTON When the final seconds ticked away in Boston's Game 7 loss at Miami, there was a sense that the Big Three era in Boston was over.
Not so fast, people.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is in evaluation mode of the top free agents to pursue this summer.
Ainge has maintained every year that the goal -- through the draft as well as free agency -- is get the best players.
If he sticks to that formula, you can bet Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, both of whom will be free agents this summer, are very much in the mix in terms of being targets of the C's in coming back to Boston next season.
While free agency is still a few weeks away, Ainge told CSNNE.com that all of the current Celtics who will become free agents next month are in the talent pool that the C's will be looking to pluck from in order in constructing the 2012-13 season.
When asked whether he was leaning one way or another in terms of which players he wanted to bring back, Ainge responded, "That's a tough 'yes' or 'no' question. We want guys back that we have on our roster now. We'll have good dialogue . . . and figure out who is coming back."
As it stands now, the Celtics under contract include Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, JaJuan Johnson and Avery Bradley. All but Johnson are starters.
Brandon Bass is under contract for next season with a 4.25 million salary. However, he can opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent, and multiple league sources told CSNNE.com this weekend that he's leaning in that direction.
Bass has indicated that he wants to stay with the Celtics, but in all likelihood he'll want to do so with a multiyear contract.