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.
“I’d 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 – really good. But if you look at their team and you have to say, ‘What can we take away? What do we have to give them and play the odds?’ You have to give him his shot and you have to try to close up the middle on him and that’s kind of how we did it. We think that’s the best way to go. Nothing might work because they’re that good. He’s a very good basketball player, there’s no doubt about it.”
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, that’s probably what you’re going to get,” Rivers said. “I don’t think he would trade it. He enjoys playing with them. But if there’s a negative side, that would be it: No matter who well you play, the question will be. Some day that’ll be answered, too. I’ve got a feeling he’ll answer them all in the way he’s answered them now.”