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Boston Celtics bringing back free agent Jabari Bird ‘still in the works,’ says Danny Ainge


Bringing back free agent guard Jabari Bird is “still in the works,” Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge told reporters Monday.

“Still in the works,” Ainge said, via The Boston Herald‘s Mark Murphy. “We’re evaluating the basketball world. There’s a lot of players out there.”

The comments are in line with Ainge’s ones at Las Vegas Summer League only five days ago, when he told reporters he didn’t yet know Bird’s future.

“Jabari has played well,” Ainge said then. “He played well last summer too with us. He’s done really well this summer.”

Bird, who was one of two two-way players the Celtics employed this past season, was the team’s clear best player during the six-game Las Vegas Summer League run that ended with Sunday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Bird played in four of those games, averaging a team-leading 16.8 points to go with 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists. He shot 57 percent from the field, as well.

“He’s playing all facets of the game right now,” Celtics summer league coach Jay Larranaga said last week. “He’s playing pick-and-roll. He’s attacking the rim. He’s taking the 3 when it’s given to him. He’s cutting…Everybody here at summer league has to be impressed with how he’s playing.”

Bird, a 2017 second-round pick, is a restricted free agent at the moment. The Celtics, meanwhile, have 14 players under contract, one short of the league max (though second-year small forward Abdel Nader’s deal is only partially guaranteed until Aug. 1). Boston is also working with fellow restricted free agent Marcus Smart on a return.

The 24-year-old shooting guard could find himself on Boston’s active roster. He could end up elsewhere. He also has the option of picking up his qualifying offer and returning to the Celtics on another two-way deal, which allows him to spend most of his time in the G League and for the Celtics to call him up to the NBA for up to 45 days out of the season. 

The Celtics reportedly agreed to a two-way deal Monday with 6-foot-3 guard Walt Lemon Jr. They have one more two-way spot open.

Fred Katz covers the Celtics for MassLive.com. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.

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