Ainge: Humphries "might" be playing well enough to stick around after this year

Outside of the draft picks, the best piece the Celtics received from Brooklyn in the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade has easily been Kris Humphries.

MarShon Brooks has been traded, Keith Bogans is no longer with the team and the biggest impact Gerald Wallace has made has been off the court repeatedly putting his teammates on blast to the media.

Humphries, on the other hand, is averaging a double-double per 36 minutes with 14.2 ppg and 11.1 rpg. He's also pulling his weight on the defensive end, averaging two blocks and almost a steal per 36 minutes.

Celtics GM Danny Ainge has taken notice of Humphries level of play and told Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett he's considering keeping the big man around.

You know, we didn’t go into this with a preconceived idea of who is on the bus. We think every one of them have a chance to be guys we really like, and Kris Humphries is a good example. I think everybody would think he’s not part of our long-term plans, but as well as he’s played and the character he has and the work ethic might play him into consideration for us down the road. We’re trying to figure all that out.”

Humphries' $12 million contract expires at the end of the season. That's a good chunk of change and an attractive chip for a team looking for cap relief. That's why the general consensus around NBA circles is Humphries, 28, will be one of the guys sent packing before the trade deadline as part of the rebuild. But there's a strong case to be made for Boston holding onto Humphries and re-signing him in the offseason.

Earlier this month, Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix said Humphries will make around $3-$5 million per year on his next contract during one of the post game shows on CSNNE. That's pretty reasonable for a guy who can block shots and rip rebounds off the bench. If the Celtics did re-sign Humphries for around $4 million or even $5 million per year, the team would still have $7 million coming off the books and another $5 million coming off when the team waives Bogans. That money should be more than enough to re-sign upcoming restricted free agent Avery Bradley and still leave wiggle room for trades or other signings.

Even if the Celtics do trade Humphries, there is no reason the team couldn't sign him in the offseason anyway. Ainge admitted to such a strategy as it pertains to Brooks and Jordan Crawford, who were traded to Golden State. From the same Boston Herald piece:

“But with MarShon and Jordan, they’re still young players. I like how Jordan played for us, and I like him as a kid. I like what I saw in MarShon when he got a chance to play in the D-League and his last game with us. I think he has potential and possibilities.

“We’ll continue to monitor them, as well. Those guys are free agents this summer. We’re evaluating everybody in the NBA, along with our own guys. But where we are now, we need to see some guys play.

The Celtics do have plenty of power forwards with Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass, Kelly Olynyk and Humphries. But Bass will likely not be with the team next season, if he even sticks around this season, and Olynyk hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire. If the team is committed to developing their latest first round pick, Boston could keep Olynyk in the rotation and slot Humphries in as the backup center, assuming the team either trades for, drafts or signs a starting center they desperately need.

Those draft picks from Brooklyn are great, but the trade could have provided more long-term value to Boston than some realized.

Follow Eric