When Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce all departed from Boston this offseason, speculation swirled that, for a variety of reasons, Rajon Rondo would be the next to go.
The All-Star Celtics point guard, speaking to reporters Tuesday night at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston, where he unveiled a new endorsement deal with the Chinese sports apparel brand Anta, strongly disagreed with the notion.
“I love it here,” Rondo said, according to this CSNNE transcript. “The fans are great here. And Danny [Ainge] has been straightforward with me. This is my team. Why would I want to leave? Why would I want out? I never really backed away from a challenge. This would be a challenge. I’m looking forward to working with coach [Brad] Stevens. It’s a brand new start for us as a team. A lot of new players and a lot of young guys willing to listen, so I’m very excited.”
Rondo, who is recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, also said his first instinct was not to be like NFL star running back Adrian Peterson, who suffered that injury, came back in six months and won the NFL MVP the next season.
“I want to be like Rajon Rondo,” Rondo said with a smile. “Obviously he came back and had an MVP season. That’s the type of season I want to have when I come back. I don’t want to come back and just be mediocre or have excuses about why I’m not playing up to par. When I come back, I won’t have any excuses. I’ll be ready to go. And if I’m not playing up to par, it’s just on me. I won’t blame it on my knee.”
It remains unclear when Rondo might return to action. The Celtics have said he won’t be ready by the Oct. 30 season opener against the Raptors in Toronto and there has been speculation that Rondo might not be ready until December.
When asked about the next hurdle for him as far as the recovery process, Rondo said, “Just getting my leg as strong as possible; getting my leg as strong as possible and getting my mind as strong as possible, get back out there and believe in my leg and do the things that I was able to do before this injury.”
Rondo also spoke about his comment made during media day that he “didn’t feel anything” when he learned about the trade involving Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce this summer.
“That was blown out of proportion,” he said. “I don’t really say much and speak out on exactly what happened. I talk to Kevin all the time. I talk to (Pierce). Obviously it was different when the trade went down. I didn’t expect it to happen. I had just gotten off the plane. It happens, and that’s the business. I’m not going to say it was, ‘forget about it’.
“We still talk about them in the locker room today, tell stories about how KG was, things Paul did. At the end of the day, I still talk to every one of those guys. I talk to (Jason Terry), I talk to (Pierce), I talked to (Garnett) yesterday. We still check on each other. It’s a brotherhood. It’s something that you can’t break. We won titles together. We been through the fire together. It’s just something for life.”
Pierce, Garnett and Terry were traded to Brooklyn in a blockbuster deal that netted the Celtics a cadre of players and first-round draft picks.