BOSTON -- Just like Kyrie Irving not opting into the final year of his current contract came as a surprise to no one, the same can be said for Aron Baynes opting into the final year of his deal with the Boston Celtics that’ll pay $5.45 million next season.
At no point in his time since being a Celtic has Baynes given any indication that he wanted to be anywhere but here.
And his decision to opt-in to the final year cements that reality.
But really, what does having Baynes, 32, back in the fold next season really mean for the Celtics?
We can talk all day long about what he brings to the floor defensively because he does have a significant impact for Boston at that end of the floor.
But more than his defense, the return of Baynes provides a level of stability in what is shaping up to be a tumultuous offseason where the waves of change are expected to come crashing in like we haven’t seen in years with this franchise.
It's unclear if Irving will re-sign with Boston or sign with another team. Al Horford has a player option and can hit the free agent market and potentially sign elsewhere.
Boston is trying to work out a deal to trade for New Orleans' Anthony Davis, a deal that will surely cost them at least one of their youngsters - Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and/or Marcus Smart.
That means the Celtics will likely add at least one youngster to the mix.
Having Baynes back, a player who has shown the ability to impact games, both as a starter and coming off the bench, can help set the kind of example the Celtics will want from its older, more seasoned players.
And a big part of Baynes’ success and ability to lead, hinges heavily on the Teflon-tough faith he has in Brad Stevens’ coaching.
It is the kind of loyalty you seldom see from a role player whose role has fluctuated the way Baynes has in his time in Boston.
But the way this past season ended, Boston was in no position to just assume Baynes would return.
And Baynes said as much recently when discussing his future in Boston.
“I love Boston,” Baynes said. “It’s been great for my family. I know where I want to be. But at the same time I’ve got to talk with Danny, I’ve got to talk to Brad and see what their thoughts are as well. I want to be in the right situation.”
The return of Baynes can only help Boston in its efforts to get a new deal done with Horford who can also opt-out of his current deal which is set to pay him $30.1 million this season.
Danny Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, said recently that getting a new, longer-term deal done with Horford is an offseason priority for the Celtics.
Knowing that Baynes will be back in the fold, provides Horford with a familiar presence who he knows well and trusts both on the floor and inside the locker room as the Celtics look to rebuild their roster for another run at Banner 18.
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