With Rajon Rondo's name continually popping up in trade rumors, Celtics president Danny Ainge spoke once again this morning about his point guard, stressing his value to the team while also saying "he's got to grow up" in some areas and making other critical comments.
"We expect him to play by the rules and be a leader as a point guard. We need him to be more of a leader," Ainge said. "There were just a couple situations where he was late this year, I don't know if he was sitting in his car, but showed up late and the rest of the team was there. We have team rules and you have to be on time. He was fined for being late, he said he was stuck in traffic, and it's just unacceptable."
Ainge was also critical of Rondo's play during the Celtics' second-round loss to the Magic.
Ainge said Rondo still hasn't fully matured.
"He's got to grow up in some cases, and I think he is, too," Ainge said. "Slowly but surely Rondo is maturing. He's getting a little bit more control over his emotions and he's responding in a more positive way as he gets older and more mature in the league. We certainly would not trade him because of those things. ... We really need him as our point guard to be a leader than someone who thinks more of himself at times."
Ainge's comments were not entirely negative. When asked if Rondo was one of the top handful of point guards in the league, Ainge said he was "in the conversation" and "in the top 10 for sure". He also stressed again that the Celtics were not looking to run Rondo out of town.
"Rondo certainly is not a disruptive force on our team," Ainge said. "He’s a dynamic player and we love the kid. We’re not looking to trade Rondo because he was late for a playoff game or because he’s got some growing up to do. Some of our 30-year-old players have growing up to do as well. ... I think a lot of people are making something out of nothing that’s really there."
Rondo is still on a rookie contract, but his deal can be extended before the end of October. If the Celtics haven't reached an agreement with Rondo by then he will become a restricted free agent after next season, but Boston will have the chance to match any offer he may get. Rondo could be difficult for the Celtics to re-sign for salary cap reasons. Rondo has said he hopes to be a maximum-contract player.
"I think it's a good goal for Rondo to have just from a monetary standpoint, but to be that kind of player that warrants a max contract -- I certainly don't see Rondo as a max-contract player today," Ainge said. "Next summer is a summer where we'll probably have to make some financial decisions on Rondo if we don't come to a conclusion this summer."
(Last updated at 1:30 p.m.) ... Listen to the full WEEI interview here.