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Etan Thomas with the MLE?

From the Washington Post

The Boston Celtics will pursue Washington Wizards restricted free agent center Etan Thomas when the free agency period begins July 1, according to a league official who asked not to be identified.

Thomas is the Celtics' top free agent target and, according to the source, they are willing to offer him a salary starting at $5.1 million, the league-allotted mid-level exception.

Washington has the right to match any offer for Thomas since he is a restricted free agent, however, it might not be willing to pay the 6-foot-9 inside presence as much as the mid-level exception, based on conversations with team and league officials earlier this season.

If Washington were to lose Thomas, it likely would prompt the Wizards to pursue a free agent big man with the $6.6 million it will have under the salary cap, a total combining the mid-level and the $1.5 million exception awarded to teams every other season.

The Celtics' pursuit of Thomas comes as they are looking to fortify their front court, which could take a huge loss with the possible departure of free agent center Mark Blount. Thomas, who had the best season of his four-year career last season, mainly because he was healthy for the first time, backed up starter Brendan Haywood, but was frequently used in the fourth quarters of games because of his rebounding and shot-blocking prowess. He played 79 games, averaging 8.9 points and 6.7 rebounds.