Former Boston Celtics center Aron Baynes will return to professional basketball next season. However, for now, it won’t be in the NBA. Brian Windhorst reported that Baynes has signed on with the Brisbane Bullets of the National Basketball League in his native country Australia. Windhorst also reported that his contract with the Bullets allows him to opt out for the NBA should a team be interested in bringing Baynes in during the 2022-23 season.
This will be the first time Baynes will play professional basketball since his tragic fall during the 2021 Olympics, which resulted in a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed. Since then, Baynes had to learn how to walk again and worked his way up to work out for NBA teams.
Baynes last played in the NBA during the 2020-21 season when he played for the Toronto Raptors. In his lone season with the Raptors, Baynes averaged 6.1 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 26.2 percent from three.
While Baynes may not start the 2022-23 season in the NBA, his opt-out clause clearly indicates he believes he can still be in the league. Considering he worked out for NBA teams during the 2022 NBA Las Vegas Summer League, maybe they do too.
Baynes Impressed NBA Personnel During His Workout
Scouts got a look up close to see what Baynes could still do during his workout in Las Vegas. One scout praised Baynes’ stamina but took his performance with a grain of salt since he wasn’t competing against anyone.
“That part was good, but it was 1-on-0, so there were some things you couldn’t really tell for sure,” the scout said.
That same scout added that while Baynes may not be what he was, he demonstrated he could still hit threes, which could potentially interest NBA teams knowing the league’s emphasis on stretch bigs.
“I’m not sure he’s going to be quite the banger he was before, but he can really shoot from the outside. He was drilling 3’s,” the scout said.
A team exec added that, after watching Baynes during his workout, he believes Baynes could help someone if they brought him in though Baynes may not be what he was pre-injury.
“He can play now,” the exec said. “I’m not sure he’s all the way back — or all the way to where he’s going to be with more time — but from what I saw today, he can help a team.”
After his workout ended, Baynes tweeted out that he was back doing what he loved.
Celtics Not Interested in Reunion
Among the teams that have checked in on Baynes since his attempted comeback are, in fact, the Celtics themselves. However, Adam Himmelsbach reported that while Boston checked in on Baynes, they were not interested in bringing him back.
The Celtics are in need of another big man after including Daniel Theis in their trade for Malcolm Brogdon. While they’re not interested in bringing back Baynes to be Theis’ replacement, that could change if Baynes proves in the NBL that he’s still an NBA-caliber player.
Baynes played in Boston from 2017 to 2019 before being traded to the Phoenix Suns.