ORLANDO — The Celtics’ roster is as clogged as freeways during rush hour. Team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has said it’s a priority to clean it up.
The Celtics’ salary-cap figures are nearing the tax line for next season, and thus they could be facing a potentially steep penalty. Moves likely will be made soon to shed salaries, which means shedding players, ones they might like but can’t afford to keep.
So these were the pretenses, the overwhelming elephant in the room, that existed when Celtics forward Brandon Bass met with reporters Wednesday during Orlando Summer League.
He stood in a hallway that led to the Orlando Magic’s practice court, where teams played, and leaned back against the white wall while wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and sneakers.
He sipped on a smoothie, seemingly as calm and carefree as he always is, deflecting worries with his slightly Southern accent that dates to his hometown of Baton Rouge, La.
“I just gotta take care of myself, to be ready to succeed in whatever situation that presents itself,” the eight-year veteran said.
Bass was up and down for the Celtics last season. He averaged 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds all told, but 12.9 points and 5.8 rebounds in the final 14 games. Consistency, as former coach Doc Rivers said, was Bass’s biggest issue.
Late in the season, when his numbers improved, Bass said he figured out how to clear his mind of all the clutter and just simply play. Bass also started talking more on the court, barking out defensive orders in the way Kevin Garnett often did.
All that said, Bass might be one of the odd men out. He’s under contract to make about $6.5 million next season and $6.9 million the season after. With the Celtics pinching pennies this offseason, Bass easily could be a salary cap casualty, though it likely would require that the Celtics find a trading partner willing to accept his deal.
Which likely won’t be an easy proposition for the Celtics.
Knowing all these truths doesn’t seem to have Bass worried — at least not outwardly. He said he doesn’t sit and think about what moves the Celtics should make, either.
“I got kids, man,” he said. “If I had to think about that . . . Man, they don’t pay me enough to do all that. I just gotta play basketball.
“If I got a raise, I’ll start thinking about who we should bring in. I’ll start thinking like Kobe Bryant and all these guys, that ‘The GM needs to talk to me first.’
“No, I just need to be Brandon Bass and do my job. Come in ready, come in good shape, and contribute any way I can.”
For now, he’s shuttling between Florida and Louisiana. He’s working out plenty, trying to stay in shape. He also started a Twitter account.
Meanwhile, the team around him has undergone massive changes. Garnett and Paul Pierce are gone in a trade to Brooklyn that won’t become official until Friday. The Nets will be sending back a bevy of new players in return.
And the Celtics no longer will be coached by Rivers, who left after nine seasons in Boston to join the Los Angeles Clippers as a coach and a front office executive.
“All I know is Doc is in LA,” Bass said. “That’s strange, I mean, but he’s there. I don’t really have an opinion about it. You gotta do what’s best for you and your family.”
In Rivers’s place steps 36-year-old Brad Stevens from Butler University, a coach with no NBA experience, whom Bass said he hadn’t met until Wednesday, when the two sat together and chatted sat during Boston’s 85-78 summer league loss to Houston.
There are always uncertain summers, such as when players are free agents.
“Now, things like that, I think about,” Bass said. “For me, it’s a blessing to be here still, to be in the position I’m in.”
But all the changes that occurred this offseason — players and coaches coming and going — don’t seem to faze Bass, or at least he won’t admit as much.
“I don’t have no impressions, I don’t have no feelings,” he said. “It’s the business of basketball. It comes with it. I’ll be ready come training camp. I don’t really get too caught up into what happens, as far as the business side of it. It’s out of my control.
“I just think that what we got, we can win with it. We got a great young group and we could build, so I’m ready to build.”
The idea of “tanking” is another issue that Bass isn’t interested in.
“I don’t really try to be too smart of a guy as far as thinking about basketball and being an analyst,” he said. “I just take care of myself.”
The Celtics’ future is uncertain, and so the same is true for Bass. He could be gone in the weeks or months ahead, if only because he is simply too expensive to keep.
But, for now, Bass likes to say that he doesn’t concern himself with that which he cannot control. His relaxed Southern mien belies any unease. As he said, he can only be the best Brandon Bass that he can be, wherever that may be, Boston or destinations unknown.