For what it's worth, he said they have had "a few conversations." That's nothing definitive, but there's a mutual interest there. The team likes him and Hump has mentioned in the past that he'd like to return to Boston. He understands the where the team is at and seems willing to be part of the rebuild process. Who would have thought eight months ago that it would be Humphries and not the elder statesman Keith Bogans or the up-and-coming MarShon Brooks who would be the lone survivor from last summer's blockbuster trade? He looked less than enthusiastic when they were introduced to the media and his expiring contract was trade bait all season.
But the Celtics kept him. I thought for sure he'd be gone by the deadline but instead, he's soldiered on. He's arguably been our most consistent big over the last few weeks and his blue collar attitude has made him an unlikely fan favorite. So what do the Celtics do?
KEEP HIM: The dude has been a warrior for us all season, but let's face it, Hump will be hitting the big 3-0 by the halfway point of next season. He's a great influence in the locker room, but a role player who shouldn't be starting on a rebuilding team. The question is whether the Celtics are there yet? Is the team in a position to be signing veteran role players with the hopes of a making a run? If Ainge and Humphries' agent can work out a cap friendly contract, that deal could signal a definitive direction for the club.
Hump's return isn't exactly the fireworks that Wyc promised, but it could be a lit match. If Danny is targeting a big free agent to be--say, Kevin Love for example--he'll want to make Boston as attractive a destination as possible. Los Angeles might have the palm trees and weather, but the Lakers won't be able to court Love with their current personnel. Of course, free agents don't go to teams to play alongside Kris Humphries alone, but it helps if Ainge can prove that the cupboards are fully stocked for contention.
LET KELLY PLAY: This is the other route. There have been rumblings that Ainge isn't looking to make a big move until the summer of 2015 and that the team will still be in rebuild mode next year. Re-signing Hump would only extend the big man log jam that the Celtics have been dealing with all year. We've seen flashes from Kelly Olynyk in the second half of the season with an increase in playing time helping him gain confidence in his game. He's getting used to the speed of the game, specifically on defense, and you can see him turning the corner by putting himself in better positions to defend and rebound.
For a player with Olynyk's talent, their sophomore season can make or break their career. He's often been compared to Dirk Nowitzki and the aforementioned Kevin Love and if you look at their career arcs, season #2 (#3 might be more appropriate for Love) is crucial. You get to see if those per 36 minutes projections are real or not. Olynyk has been hovering around the 20 mpg mark for the month of March and if you extrapolate those numbers, you're looking at a 17 and 10 big man that can shoot the three. Those numbers might be a mirage, but we won't know until he's playing consistently.
To a lesser extent, there's also Vitor Faverani. Hump didn't start playing consistently until Vitor went down, but El Hombre Indestructible still has one year guaranteed on his contract and I can't imagine Danny and Brad passing up on next season's look-see year. Like Kelly, Vitor showed some promise when he was healthy and if they're prioritizing the evaluation of cheap, young talent over established journeymen, bringing back Humphries might be a luxury they can't afford.