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Robb: Jerebko Has 'Uncertain' Future with Celtics, Despite Late-Season Success

BOSTON (CBS) – Danny Ainge has a lot on his plate this offseason.

There are the four draft picks the team has at its disposal the 2015 NBA Draft. Then, there's an opportunity at the Celtics having salary cap space for the first time in his tenure as team president. Ainge must weigh using that space while also deciding which of the team's young role players (Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller) are worth keeping around for the long-term or should be traded for a bigger piece.

Needless to say, there's plenty of work to be done. However, the first item of business Ainge must face this offseason will be figuring out which of his own free agents he wants to retain this summer.

Some choices will be easy, such as former Maverick small forward Jae Crowder. The 24-year-old is a restricted free agent, so it's probable the team will bring him back given his superb series against the Cavs, barring an excessive offer from another franchise that the C's would decline to match.

One name that most folks didn't expect to be under consideration for the Celtics to re-sign a couple of months ago was 6-foot-10 forward Jonas Jerebko. The stretch-four was a rental the team acquired from the Detroit Pistons in the final two months of the season, but ended up being a pivotal contributor in the team's 24-12 finish to the regular season.

"I was impressed with Jonas," Ainge said at his end-of-season press conference on Thursday. "I know that Brad liked Jonas, and his teammates respected him. He plays very hard and he's a versatile defender, and he's a guy that can spread the floor."

Jerebko averaged 7.1 points in just 18 minutes per game in green and hit a scorching 40.6 percent of his 3-point attempts, serving as a valuable weapon in Boston's pace-and-space offense.

The Swedish veteran earned a meager $4.5 million during the 2014-15 season, but Ainge was more hesitant to discuss bringing him back than Crowder, likely due to the team's roster crunch in the frontcourt.

"We like what he brought to the table," Ainge said of Jerebko. "I think, again, in free agency and with our current roster, it all depends. So we have to just see how those negotiations are and how they go, and what we end up with in the draft, and what our needs are at the end of the day."

If the Celtics opt to use their salary cap space in other ways, expect them to try to find Isaiah Thomas some reinforcements in shot creation.

"I think the hardest thing to find in the league," Ainge said of a shot creator. "We often talk about transcendent players and stars, but I think the hardest skill to find in our league is guys that can score in the fourth quarter, last six minutes of the game type of scorers.

"Usually the offensive patterns don't score baskets at that time, usually it's the individuals and the talent. I think that that's always a priority regardless of need by position, those kind of players are hard to find. I think that Isaiah, he's our best at that right now, so it'd be nice to find one or two more of those before the season starts next year, and ideally at other positions...we need them wherever they are," Ainge explained.

Jerebko and the other Celtics free agents (Brandon Bass, Luigi Datome) don't fit that mold. For that reason, and Boston's crowded roster (11 under contract) the future of all those contributors to Boston's latest success looks uncertain moving forward.

Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.

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