Danny Ainge, the Celtics' president of basketball operations, says he thinks Kevin Garnett will return to the team in 2012-13 "but I'm just not certain."
Garnett, an unrestricted free agent, has talked about retirement, but also figures to draw attention from contenders on the open market. Ainge, however, believes Garnett will only play in Boston if he chooses to continue his career.
"I don't want to speak for Kevin," Ainge said Wednesday on WEEI Radio's 'The Big Show'. "I know he wants to come back to Boston if he wants to play -- that's what he has shared at this stage -- but I'm not holding him to that. I know he's got a lot of options."
If Garnett's status isn't decided by July 1, which is when teams can begin negotiations with free agents (though they can't begin signing them until July 10), the Celtics would be in a state of limbo regarding how they would build their roster for next year. Still, Ainge said he isn't pressing Garnett for a decision.
"I really don't want to push Kevin," he said. "I mean, obviously, we have to get some answers by July 1. Right now, I'm just letting him get back to me and hopefully he'll do that soon."
Ainge said Garnett understands that dragging out his decision could hurt the Celtics.
"He doesn't want to do that. He's not looking to do that," Ainge said. "Kevin's a team guy and the last thing he wants to do is put us in a tough position. He wants to help us and hopefully he wants to come back.
"I think he will, but I'm just not certain."