Eddie House decided yesterday against free agency and will remain with the Celtics next season, according to his agent, Mark Bartelstein. House, who could have exercised a player option and declared for free agency today, has one year remaining on a contract worth $2.86 million. ``Eddie is staying in the contract,'' Bartelstein said. ``It was a tough decision. But, when it was all said and done, Eddie loved his time in Boston, he feels like he is on a championship contender, he really enjoys playing with his teammates and playing for Doc [Rivers], and the fans have been great to him.
``There is no question there would have been a tremendous amount of interest in Eddie. But there is the unknown, not knowing where you are going to end up, and he really enjoys going to work every day with the Celtics .
``He'll stay at least one more year and he can go into free agency next year, if he wants. But he has a comfort zone there; he's enjoyed the experience, and he didn't want to walk away from it.
``There are not a lot of times in life where you find a place that feels like home and you have a chance to win the championship, and he's got that.''
House, 31, averaged 8.5 points off the bench in 81 games last season.
The Celtics' other unrestricted free agents are guard Stephon Marbury and center Mikki Moore and president of Basketball operations Danny Ainge said the team will make a qualifying offer to Glen Davis, a restricted free agent.
``We're excited to have Eddie back,'' Ainge said. ``We hope we have Glen back - we are confident we can bring him back. The market will dictate what he gets. We have interest in Steph. We like who he was and what he did for us.''
Ainge confirmed the Celtics will attempt to use their mid-level exception. ``It just has to be for the right player,'' he said. The Celtics are concentrating on power forwards and backup centers.
Possible free agents on their list include: forwards Grant Hill (Phoenix), Antonio McDyess and Rasheed Wallace (Detroit), Jamario Moon (Miami), Lamar Odom (Lakers), Zaza Pachulia (Atlanta), Anthony Parker (Toronto); center Chris Wilcox (New York); and guard Marquis Daniels (Indiana).
Hill, 36, who was coached by Rivers in Orlando, played all 82 games for the Suns last season, the first time in his career he has not missed a game.
The Celtics pursued McDyess last February before signing Moore. Odom (who earned $11 million last season) and Wallace ($13.68 million) likely would have to take major pay reductions to join the Celtics . Pachulia or Wilcox could serve as reserves behind center Kendrick Perkins.
The Celtics are also considering a backup for Paul Pierce, but they could go with last year's draft choices, J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker.
Parker, a starter for the Raptors, Daniels, and Moon are perimeter threats who could fill in behind Pierce.
Former Celtic Jo Jo White said his Jo Jo's Boston club-restaurant will be opening across the street from the Garden in a 70,000-square foot space. White is opening the venue in part to give Celtics players and other pro athletes an upscale private nightspot, but it will also include a public restaurant and sports club. Jo Jo's in Maynard is having its grand opening today and a Saugus venue is to open in late July.