Al Jefferson Hints At Return To Celtics

November 14 2012 at 10:00pm CDT By Chuck Myron

10:00pm: Jefferson responded to the reports that he would consider signing with the Celtics, reiterating that the Jazz are his first choice, saying, "The only way I won't be there is they don't want me there," reports Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter links). 

6:58pm: Al Jefferson is a free agent next summer and said he'd love to stay with the Jazz, but expressed a willingness to return to the Celtics, for whom he played the first three seasons of his career, writes Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com.

"This is my first home," he said of Boston, where the Jazz are playing tonight. "This will always be my home away from home. (Celtics president) Danny Ainge gave me a chance when nobody else did. If that situation were to happen, I’d love to do that again. But right now, like I said, it’s all about taking care of business and finishing out the season right."

Jefferson spoke highly of the Jazz organization as well, and said it reminds him of the Celtics. The 6'10" 27-year-old figures to be one of the most highly sought-after big men on the market in the offseason. It would be difficult to envision Boston, which has about $70MM in commitments next season, including Paul Pierce's $15.3MM player option, having anywhere near enough room to sign him outright. Ainge could engineer some kind of sign-and-trade or another swap that frees up cap space, but it's likely Jefferson won't be back in green anytime soon, barring a Celtics collapse this season that prods Ainge into significant changes.

Still, it seems the affection is mutual, as Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston notes Celtics coach Doc Rivers had dinner with Jefferson when the Jazz and Celtics played last season.

"He just keeps getting better and better," Rivers said. "The thing I thought I’d never say about Al, he’s becoming a better passer. And I’ve very happy about that for him. He just keeps working on his game. He hit that one little stretch where, he had lost a lot, you could see he’s fought through that now. Making that playoff run, and he was a big part of it last year, has kind of re-stoked him and that’s good. He’s a heck of a guy." 

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