Barry Chin/Globe Staff
NEW YORK -- Mike D'Antoni could taste his foot in his mouth the second he finished his sentence. Asked about his impression of Rajon Rondo after the Celtics' point guard sprayed a team playoff record 20 assists around two nights ago, D'Antoni was too cheeky for his own good.
ďIíd like to see him play in Minnesota and see how he does," D'Antoni said.
It's nothing Rondo hasn't heard before. Chris Paul's said it. So has Brandon Jennings. Rondo, they say, is more a product of the Hall of Famers around him.
"Everybody is tied together and they have three Hall-of-Famers out there," D'Antoni said. "Rondo is a very good basketball player Ė really good. But if you look at their team and you have to say, ĎWhat can we take away? What do we have to give them and play the odds?í You have to give him his shot and you have to try to close up the middle on him and thatís kind of how we did it. We think thatís the best way to go. Nothing might work because theyíre that good. Heís a very good basketball player, thereís no doubt about it.Ē
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Rondo isn't necessarily a product of the players around him, but the stigma won't leave him until they do.
"You play with those guys, thatís probably what youíre going to get," Rivers said. "I donít think he would trade it. He enjoys playing with them. But if thereís a negative side, that would be it: No matter who well you play, the question will be. Some day thatíll be answered, too. Iíve got a feeling heíll answer them all in the way heís answered them now."