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Are the Celtics the main rivals for Bruce Brown?

Connecticut Sky v New York Liberty Photo by Michelle Farsi/NBAE via Getty Images

Bruce Brown showed up at a New York Liberty game earlier this week, all decked out in a Betnijah Laney jersey and sitting courtside with Clara Wu Tsai, the Liberty and Nets co-owner.

Hard not to see that as good news. Brown will be a unrestricted free agent this summer and the Tsais along with Sean Marks will have to decide how much to offer Brown. Speculation is that the Nets would be willing to go as high as $8 to $9 million. Although unrestricted, the Nets can match any number out there, but... would they? As Ian Eagle told ESPN Radio earlier this week there are questions...

“Bruce Brown has earned himself a healthy raise. Whether Nets are the team that provides it to him, I don’t know. I know they love him. And he’s easy to love. He’s a great guy. He’s a great teammate and he plays his butt off. He’s improved in every category. He makes winning plays,” said Eagle in assessing Brown’s value before adding, “But the number may be too rich for their blood with the tax ramifications. Lot of questions in there.”

There are indeed two questions with Brown’s free agency: how much will the Nets pay and who’s the competition?

Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney, who covered the NBA for the Sporting News, reports that “the Boston Celtics could make a run for him this offseason, and losing him would be a big blow to the Nets.” For starters, Brown grew up a Celtics fan, living in nearby Dorchester.

Deveney quotes an NBA executive who lays out how it could work — and the connection between Brown and Ime Udoka a former Nets assistant now coaching the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

“They will have limited resources,” said the executive said of the Celtics. “But they are going to look at guys who can defend. I would not be surprised if they make a pitch for Bruce Brown. He might be out of their price range in the end and maybe he goes back to Brooklyn, but Ime (Udoka) was an assistant there and we’ve seen that carries some weight with who they bring in. He was good in that Celtics series. If he can’t get a big offer, they could sneak in with him on a one-and-one (one year, with a player option) deal and put him to good use.”

As Bobby Marks noted in his look at team needs around the NBA, the Celtics are just over the luxury tax threshold and could with some manipulations, duck under it, but not under the salary cap. So any acquisition might be tricky.

A sign-and-trade is always a possibility as well and between them, the two teams have nine trade options to work if they so choose.

Start looking for hints prior to the June 23 NBA Draft. Between now and then will be focused on the current season and their match-up with Miami.