Just after free agency opened at midnight on Sunday morning, the Celtics and Aron Baynes agreed to terms on a two-year, $11 million deal, according to a league source.
Yahoo Sports reported that the second year of the deal will be a player option for Baynes.
The contract cannot officially be signed until the league-wide moratorium is lifted July 6, but Baynes alluded to the agreement in a Twitter post early Sunday morning.
“Staying where I wanted to be!!” he wrote. “Last year added fuel to the [fire] bleed green banner 18.”
Baynes, 31, averaged 6 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Celtics last season and became a key cog in Boston’s top-ranked defense.
After the season ended, Baynes and the Celtics both made it clear that they hoped their partnership could continue.
“I’ve loved every opportunity I’ve had here, every step of the way,” Baynes said June 7. “It’s a great team to be a part of. We definitely came in with 11 new guys, but, by the end of the season, we were playing as a team, which is something that’s pretty crazy to be able to do that, with a team with so many new faces, after the team was so successful last year as well. So it was great being a part of that.”
In a June interview, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he hoped to have Baynes back, too.
“Baynes was everything we could’ve expected and more,” he said, “and as good of a leader with Al [Horford], when you talk about 30-year-olds, multiple years in the NBA, husbands and dads, as good as it gets. Taking care of their body, those are guys young players can look up to.”
On the court, the presence of Baynes often allowed Horford to slide over to the power forward position in which he is most comfortable. Baynes also appeared to add some floor-stretching outside shooting to his game late in this season. After making a total of four 3-pointers over his first six seasons, the Australian drilled 11 of them in 19 Celtics playoff games.
The Celtics’ focus will now turn toward guard Marcus Smart, who is a restricted free agent. Boston will be able to match any offer sheet Smart signs with another team, and the Celtics have made it no secret that they intend to bring back the athletic guard.