Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday that the team has "every intention" of retaining Avery Bradley this offseason.
Bradley is set to be a restricted free agent and could attract outside interest, but Ainge said he believed Bradley would be back next season.
"I think Avery is a terrific player and I think he’s going to be with us," Ainge said during his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio 98.5 The Sports Hub. "Very hopeful. We have the ability to match [outside offers] as a restricted free agent and we have every intention of having Avery with us in the future."
Bradley and the Celtics failed to work out an extension of his rookie pact before a late October deadline earlier this season. Boston plans to extend a $3.6 million qualifying offer to Bradley, but rival teams could drive up his price tag by submitting offer sheets.
In declaring the team's desire to bring back Bradley, Ainge could also be trying to discourage potential bidders from even getting involved. The Celtics would benefit from retaining Bradley at a low price point like the qualifying offer, but will also have motivation to work out a long-term extension, particularly as Bradley's offensive game blossoms.
The 23-year-old Bradley is averaging career bests at 14.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 30.6 minutes per game. He missed extended time recently with an ankle injury, but it hasn't taken him long to shake any rust from missing much of February. Bradley hit a career-high six 3-pointers while scoring a team-high 23 points during Wednesday's 101-96 triumph over the Miami Heat.
Bradley, the 19th overall pick in the 2010 draft, was an NBA All-Defense second-teamer last season. The Celtics like the combination of Bradley and Rajon Rondo in their backcourt, but both have uncertain futures (Rondo is a free agent in the summer of 2015) and injuries have limited their time together.