BOSTON (AP/CBS) — Rajon Rondo wore a black sling on his left arm to help protect the surgically repaired bone in his hand at Celtics media day on Monday.
His relationship with the Boston Celtics appears healthy.
Entering the final season of his contract, the only star on the rebuilding team had a simple answer Monday when asked if he wants to stick around beyond that: “Yes,” he said.
The point guard is expected to miss at least the first two weeks of Boston’s season, which starts Oct. 29 at home against the Brooklyn Nets.
President of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Monday that he has tried to sign Rondo to an extension, but the collective bargaining agreement makes it in Rondo’s financial interests to wait. Rondo said Monday that he feels he is a max-contract player.
Meanwhile, the star point guard must wait to play until getting medical clearance for the injury that he said occurred when he slipped in the shower.
“Am I under investigation?” Rondo joked when asked about the injury. “I slipped and tried to catch my hand. It wasn’t like a banana (peel) slip. I actually almost caught myself. I landed on my knuckle on the windowsill in my home.”
Rondo, Ainge Discuss Injury:
The four-time All-Star became the undisputed leader of the young team when the Celtics traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets before last season. But he has been the subject of trade speculation several times in his eight NBA seasons, all with Boston.
The 28-year-old Rondo seems to have bonded with 37-year-old Brad Stevens, who took over as coach before last season.
“He’s the most positive coach I’ve ever played for,” said Rondo, who played his first seven NBA season under Doc Rivers and his two seasons at Kentucky under Tubby Smith. “We talk a lot. He’s actually the guy I call and work out with. So it’s kind of unusual for the head coach to be the guy that you work out with.”
Working with a rebuilt roster, Stevens was 25-57 last season for the third-worst record in team history. It was the first season of Stevens’ six-year, $22 million contract.
Rondo missed the first 40 games last season recovering from major knee surgery and was healthy this offseason, until Thursday night. He had surgery on Friday.
Ainge said he has no reason to doubt Rondo’s description of the incident and recalled his own injury from slipping after a shower in Las Vegas this summer.
“I was staying at the Wynn Hotel and I came out of the shower and slipped and smashed my head (and) had to go to the emergency room,” Ainge said, “so I guess it’s not so shocking to me that that’s possible. Talking to the medical staff and so forth, (Rondo’s) injury is an injury that happens when you land. It’s not like a hitting injury or a hitting-a-wall injury or something like that.
“I’ve been with him now for eight years and he’s never lied to me that I’m aware of and I have no reason not to believe him.”
He also said the team is not investigating the incident.
Without Rondo, the point guard candidates include Avery Bradley, Phil Pressey, Marcus Smart and Evan Turner.
Bradley, the 19th player drafted in 2010, signed a four-year contract in the offseason. Pressey made the team as a rookie free agent last season. Smart was drafted in the first round this year.
Turner, the No. 2 overall pick in 2010, signed with the Celtics on Monday. He spent his entire career with Philadelphia before being traded to Indiana on Feb. 20.
The 6-foot-7 Turner “played (point guard) one year in college and he was national college player of the year,” in his final season at Ohio State, Stevens said.
“I just want to come in and help the team where I possibly can,” said Turner, who averaged 17.4 points in 54 games with the 76ers last season and just 7.1 in 27 games with Pacers. “I really want to earn my minutes on the floor.”
Once Rondo is healthy, the point guard job is his.
“I’m just anxious to get back out there on the court and show what I can do,” he said. “I know this isn’t a championship team, but we’re going to go out there every night and play hard.”
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