A week after being formally added to the USA Basketball roster, Rajon Rondo touched down in Vegas. It's a big deal mostly because of the drawn-out process of getting Rondo on the team. It started with a miscommunication between Team USA and Rondo's camp during the season and even though they announced his addition last week, Rondo still sounded uncertain Sunday at Dwyane Wade's charity game in Miami, when he told reporters he didn't have a plane ticket to Vegas.
Now that he's in Sin City, the Celtics all-star point guard will join the likes of Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Chauncey Billups and Amar'e Stoudemire for the six-day training camp.
NBA TV is showing its "Real Training Camp Special" today at 3 p.m. John Schumann talked to Jerry Colangelo about shaping the new team, and the managing director of USA Basketball dropped Rondo's name came up a couple times.
NBA.com: Can Kevin Durant be a leader with this group?
Colangelo: He's one of the outstanding players in the game today, without question. I've been saying that he's the whole package and I believe he is. Some people lead verbally, some people lead by just a presence, others by performance. And he's evolving. He's still developing as a young man. He's 21 years old.
Chauncey Billups gives you veteran backcourt leadership for certain. When you look at some of the headliners, with Amar'e [Stoudemire], Lamar Odom, Chauncey and Durant to begin with, and then you add someone like Rondo, who had an outstanding year and playoff performances, that's just giving you a few names. We're going to see it unfold very shortly, and that anticipation and excitement is what gets our juices going too.
NBA.com: Rondo, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry. It will be great to watch those guys compete for roster spots.
Colangelo: The one thing I would add to that is we don't have any specific game plan to cut to 12 necessarily at the end of the Las Vegas camp. Our plan right now, tentatively, is to have 15 or 16 players with us in New York. And it could be more than 12 when we leave. We don't have to cut down to our 12-man roster until 48 hours before our first game in Turkey.So we're anticipating we may have some issues with decisions. That's a high-class problem though.
While he was in Miami, though, Rondo inevitably answered questions about the Heat's new Big Three.
Rajon Rondo was in Miami over the weekend for a charity game hosted by Dwyane Wade and answered the inevitable questions about the Heat's Big Three. Right now, he said, you can't compare Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Miami's third-year point guard Mario Chalmers was also there, and since he's in a position similar to the one Rondo was in three years ago, Chalmers said he would reach out to Rondo. "I really want to talk with Rajon,'' Chalmers said. "I'd like to hear what he says about that.''
The biggest difference is that the Boston Big Three were older when they came together, none had won a championship, and two of the three were past their physical primes. In Miami, Dwyane Wade already has won a title, and all three are in their physical primes.
"I can't predict how they'll do. It's a long season. It could be Game 38, or Game 56, and things could change when one guy isn't touching the ball as much as he used to,'' Rondo said. "It depends on personality. The Celtics group did a good job. Everyone was very unselfish.''
Rondo did sound slightly surprised at all the attention the Heat have received, and how they were being hailed as the overwhelming favorites to win a title. When the Celtics came together, most people thought it would take a couple years before they could jell.
"It depends on how you view it. The Lakers (two-time defending champs) are still the team to beat. In the East, we're the champs,'' he said. "But that's in the past. It's a new season. The playoffs are going to be great this season. I'm looking forward to playing them (Heat).''