ARON Baynes says he won't rule out a return to the NBL when his American basketball career is over, but his focus is on adding a second NBA championship ring to his collection.
The Far North product is back on the court after an injury-riddled season that saw him miss a month with a broken hand and then another month with a foot contusion.
But the Boston Celtics big man is putting his best foot forward at the right time of the season.
"I'm all right now. I'm ready to contribute whenever my name is called," Baynes said in Sacramento on Wednesday night after his side downed the Kings in a two-point thriller.
"Everything is going to plan right now."
Baynes is three games back from his latest injury and being held back by the medicos with minute restrictions until they deem him good to go.
"It's up to the sports science, treatment and support staff," he said.
"They're working me, they've got me on a good plan and I'm just following what they've prescribed."
He said a return to Australia to play in the NBL, following in the footsteps of Andrew Bogut, was the furthest thing from his mind.
"I'm never going to rule anything out. I'm pretty focused on where I am right now and what I got to do to keep getting better," the 32-year-old said.
But the 208cm giant admitted that he had kept an eye on Bogut's season in Australia, which culminated with him winning the NBL's MVP award and a contract back with the Golden State Warriors, the favourites to win the NBA championship this season.
"I don't think he's in retirement," Baynes said of Bogut.
"He's still fully playing and contributing a lot, everything he does is positive."
Baynes said the Warriors’ signing of Bogut made sense for the back-to-back NBA champions.
"He's a great player. He's been with them and he knows their system," the Mareeba product said.
"I'm not sure what his role is going to be but it’s always good to have another Aussie out there and I'm definitely going to be pulling for him; it’s always fun pulling for the Aussies out here."
Baynes said he hoped to be able to wear the green and gold singlet with Bogut at the FIBA World Cup later this year, starting August 31.
"Definitely we look forward to playing that. Every guy," he said.
"We don't play it for the money, we just play it for the privilege and the honour of putting on the green and gold.
"We're a bunch of mates that get to play together.
"We all look forward to it – we're all looking forward to it – but everyone has got a few things on their plate beforehand so hopefully we all stay healthy and then it’s going to be fun coming together as a team."
A week ago, it seemed that Boston's season was spiralling out of control, but some encouraging performances on the road have reminded the rest of the league – and the Celtics themselves – that they can contend during the post-season.
"We're playing with energy and when we play with energy, we can beat anyone," Baynes said.
"But if we don’t, we can get beaten by anyone. We've shown that both sides of the coin this year so hopefully we are able to keep being more consistent with playing the full 48 (minutes) with energy."
The Celtics have 16 games left in the regular season, starting with LeBron James’ LA Lakers this Sunday (Australian time).
Currently fifth on the East Conference table, a first-round playoffs duel with the Philadelphia 76ers, led by Ben Simmons, could be on the Celtics’ agenda.
“Ben is a great guy and they are a great team, but there’s a lot to happen before we get to the playoffs,” Baynes said.
“Our focus is now just on beating the Lakers.”