WALTHAM -- Rajon Rondo is still a Celtic, and the point guard seemed to revel in that fact tonight, spending almost an hour after the team's first practice of the season shooting around with the newly re-signed Marquis Daniels. Afterward, a confident Rondo stood in the middle of a media scrum and calmly answered questions about the trade rumors that have surrounded him all week.
"It's just part of it," said Rondo, who surprised reporters by engaging the media in a prolonged discussion after practice. "It hasn't discouraged me at all. I've actually been in the gym every day this week trying to be the best player I want to be this year."
Rondo said he hasn't been watching television, but he did address the canceled trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers Thursday.
"The thing that happened to him was unfortunate, but other than that I'm just playing basketball," he said. "I'm excited to be here with this organization. I want to get back and win a championship this year."
While Rondo said the right things, he made it clear that he didn't think he was out of the running in terms of being traded. At one point Rondo said he was "still here so far" and at another said he hadn't been traded "yet", but he also said he has a good relationship with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. He called Ainge "honest" several times, and said the two have spoken a few times in the last two weeks.
"You guys have heard different rumors, and they might have been true," said Rondo. "They might have been shopping me ... I could have been one of those guys [who gets traded] easily, and I still might be."
Rondo was asked if who the best point guard in the league was, and he joked, "Besides me?", before going on, saying he has to believe he's the best in order to be the best.
"I've gotten better each year since I've been here. Somebody wants me if I'm not wanted here, but obviously these guys want me. Danny's believed in me since Day 1. He drafted me. I've been through a lot of different trade talks and I'm still here. I may be sensitive. Iím human. But I donít think [the rumors] have hurt my game.íí
Rondo said that he didn't need the rumors to fuel him in any way. He stopped short of saying the Celtics were now his team, crediting the team's veterans for inspiring him with their hard work.