BOSTON (CBS) – Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge reiterated on Tuesday that Rajon Rondo is a big part of the Celtics future, saying the point guard is one player he has no intentions on letting go in a trade.
“For sure Rondo,” Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich when asked which building block for the future is un-tradeable. “The guy was a starter on the All Star team last year before he got hurt. That means he’s one of the top 10 players in the NBA. He’s still young and maturing all the time. He would be, by far, the most difficult piece to trade.”
Rondo is currently recovering from an ACL injury that sidelined him for the second half of last season, and while Ainge didn’t want to put a date on his return, said he doesn’t expect his star guard to be back until early December.
“I want to make sure Rondo comes back healthy. He’s such an important part of our future. We want him to come back healthy,” said Ainge.
Rondo was involved in trade rumors in 2011, with a swap for All-Star point guard Chris Paul on the table. The deal did not go through, but Ainge said his intentions with those discussions were to improve Boston’s fourth quarter scoring.
“Over the last few years out biggest weakness was scoring in the last six minutes of games. Even with Ray and Paul and KG we couldn’t get over the hump,” he said. “I thought Chris Paul could provide a lot of that. We though his offense at the time was better than Rondo’s. We’re excited to still have Rajon, and sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make.”
Ainge also dispelled a rumor that Ray Allen was told he was traded at the 2012 trade deadline, only to have the deal fall apart. Ainge said that never happened, though Allen was involved in some trade talk.
“Ray was told he was being talked about in a trade, he was not told he was being traded,” said Ainge. “I talk to all the guys when rumors come out and they have questions, I tell them straight out. Sometimes that can hurt an organization. In that situation I don’t think it hurt us. We didn’t trade Ray, and then the next summer we offered him a no-trade clause.”
With Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett now in Brooklyn, the Celtics have begun their rebuilding phase. But Ainge said his team will not be tanking to get a high draft pick, and feels the C’s are in a good position to compete for a playoff spot.
“Mediocrity is purgatory for an extended period of time. There can be some great benefits to have the goal to make the playoffs,” he said. “Young players develop in winning environments, playing meaningful games. I understand the theory of trying to tank games, but I don’t think our team is in that situation.”
The Celtics have a new leader in head coach Brad Stevens, who is entering his first year in the NBA. But Ainge is confident the 36-year-old will earn the respect of his new team, and have no difficulties making the transition from the college ranks to pro ball.
“When you’re teaching and coaching men, you have to earn your respect every day. We don’t live in an era anymore where if you have the title of coach you’re respected,” said Ainge. “He’ll earn the respect with his work ethic, knowledge and integrity. He’ll easily earn the respect of the players.”