Ainge wastes no time in pursuit of Big Baby

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Ainge wastes no time in pursuit of Big Baby

WALTHAM On the first day of free agency in which team officials can speak directly with players, one of the first calls Danny Ainge made was to unrestricted free agent Glen Davis.

With limited resources at their disposal and a shortened NBA season, the C's may very well adopt a get-the-band-back-together approach to assembling their team for the 2011-2012 season.

The fact that Ainge reached out to Davis so early was well received by Davis' camp.

"It's very important," John Hamilton, Davis' agent, told CSNNE.com. "It shows Danny and the Celtics appreciate the contributions he has made to the club, and are open to seeing if they can continue to relationship that started four years ago."

Ainge is not alone.

Two league sources on Monday said that a number of Davis' teammates, including Paul Pierce, have reached out to Davis in an effort to convince him to return to Boston.

But re-signing Davis won't be easy.

For starters, Davis is an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team he wants to. One of Boston's biggest challengers for Davis will be Detroit, a team that has coveted Davis for a number of years.

And the Pistons may be willing to offer Davis the full mid-level exception which is worth 5 million in the yet-to-be-ratified new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Celtics have Davis' Bird Rights which would allow them to exceed the salary cap to re-sign him.

But with the C's expected to bring back restricted free agent Jeff Green, they may very well be targeting Davis with their "mini" mid-level exception which is worth 3 million for tax-paying teams like the C's.

Money will certainly be a consideration for Davis, who made just over 3 million - 3,000,004 to be exact - last season.

The goal is to get Davis signed and in camp as soon as possible, with camp and the signing of free agents both beginning on Friday.

"But so much has to happen in such a short period of time, we know that (getting him in camp by Friday) just might not be possible," said Hamilton, who added that he is in the process of lining up visits for Davis. "The main thing is to find the best place, the best fit, for Glen."

According to Hamilton, the best fit would be a team that has the potential to make a deep playoff run - you know, a team like the one he's played for in Boston.

"That's very important to him," said Hamilton, who added that Davis was in Bradenton, Fla. at the IMG Academy working out.

Well aware of the Celtics' limitations financially, the team's run of success is a major factor in why Davis' camp hasn't ruled out a return to Boston.

The mutual interest is somewhat surprising when you consider how things ended for both sides last spring.

Davis had his worst stretch of play last season during the playoffs, which was among the many factors that contributed to the Miami Heat sending the Celtics home for the summer in five games.

"He feels there's some unfinished business there," Hamilton said. "He thinks this team can make another run at a championship, and he feels he can help them."

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

BOSTON -- On more than one occasion Monday night, the Boston Celtics were a discombobulated bunch with some players thinking they were running one play, while others were thinking the play called was something totally different.
 
You see that stuff in the preseason and to a certain extent in the regular season for a lot of teams. It is in those moments that we’re reminded that this Boston Celtics team is a work in progress on so many levels.
 
Because of that, we all need to hit the pause button when talking about them as a team inching closer towards Eastern Conference supremacy.
 
After the first month of the season, they have yet to show that they are going to be better than last season’s 48-win ball club.
 
The big problem a year ago was the offense bogging down and for the most part, not making shots. This year, it’s the team’s defense that has let them down on many nights.
 
And with that comes a sobering reminder this crew is good, but at best are maybe top-five in the East.
 
As a team on the rise, beating teams you’re not supposed to has to happen with some semblance of regularity.
 
There were only three teams on the Celtics’ docket this season thus far that they should have been beaten by without there being any argument: Golden State, San Antonio and Cleveland.
 
They were beaten in all three, two of which (Golden State and Cleveland) had final scores that did not indicate the level of dominance they had over the Celtics.
 
The average margin of defeat in the three games was 9.3 points, but two of them (San Antonio and Golden State) were at the TD Garden, which is supposed to be the equalizer for upset-minded teams.
 
But in each game, Boston put up a decent fight only to fail to emerge victorious.
 
The struggles against the upper echelon teams of the NBA has nothing to do with not having a superstar or a great rebounder or any of the kazillion reasons/excuses offered up as to why they’re not better.
 
It’s hunger.
 
It’s effort.
 
It’s about being blinded by the internet clicks that tout them as one of the best teams in the East, and them not seeing the danger that comes with embracing all that patting on the back.
 
It makes you soft.
 
It makes you fat and happy.
 
And maybe most significant, it creates a false sense of arrival before you’ve left the tarmac.
 
That’s where the Boston Celtics are right now: a team that seems to have forgotten why they were the team nobody wanted to play last year.
 
It wasn’t that teams feared playing them. It was the fact that they knew playing the Celtics would be tough, and it would force them to play a lot closer to their full potential than they were used to if they wanted to win.
 
It was because everyone knew that to beat the Celtics, you don’t have a choice but to play hard because you damn well knew they would.
 
Not anymore.
 
They bring that toughness to the game in small doses, like an intra-venous drip full of hope and promise, providing just enough to life to keep their fans optimistic but not nearly enough to kill the noise of their haters and critics.
 
And while the season is still young, the Celtics need to start racking up some quality wins.
 
Right now, their most impressive win is a toss-up between beating Charlotte 104-98 on Oct. 29, or a 94-92 win at Detroit on Nov. 19.
 
Boston plays at Orlando on Wednesday, a team that’s likely to be back in the lottery again. But after that, they travel back to Boston where they’ll host Toronto -- a game that they desperately need to not only to pad their win total but also provide a much-needed boost of energy and confidence going forward.

The Celtics have to find that hunger, that collective desire that we’ve seen in the past which has propelled them to greater heights than we’ve seen thus far.
 
Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford… you can go down the roster and the mission for all of them has to be the same: play harder, for longer, and be smarter about it, because this team has too much collective talent to be just three games above .500.
 
At 12-9, Boston is third in the East and trail conference-leading Cleveland by three games for the best record in the conference. But then you look at the teams behind the Celtics and realize that they’re only two games out of having the ninth-best record in the East.
 
It speaks in part to the season still being in its infancy stage. But it’s also telling as to how Boston does not have a huge margin of error when it comes to losing winnable games.
 
And as we’ve seen thus far, the Celtics can play with any team in the NBA and hold their own.
 
But beating them is a totally different narrative that this squad has yet to write.