Danny Ainge now says Rajon Rondo was asked not to stay in L.A. to celebrate birthday
Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said on his weekly radio appearance on Wednesday that he and head coach Brad Stevens did in fact tell Rajon Rondo not to stay behind in Los Angeles to celebrate his birthday instead of traveling with the team on its West Coast road trip.
With the Celtics set to embark on a flight to Sacramento following a Friday game against Lakers, Rondo elected to stay in L.A. so he could to celebrate his 28th birthday with friends and family on Saturday, Feb. 22.
With Rondo still not playing in back-to-back games as he builds strength in his knee following surgery, he wasn’t going to be playing in the game against the Kings on Saturday anyway, but his absence was noticed and created a bit of a controversy regarding how committed Rondo was to his teammates and whether the loosey-goosey habits practiced under the old regime headed by Doc Rivers are causing problems and aren’t flying under new head coach Brad Stevens.
Ainge said that he and Rondo spoke about the issue last week and things were smoothed over.
“It was between Rondo and I, and I learned some things that I didn’t know and we had a long conversation about it and I’m satisfied with it,” Ainge told the Boston Globe. “He learned from it, too. Let’s move on.”
Both Rondo and Stevens seemed to echo Ainge’s sentiments that the issue had been resolved and nothing further needed to be discussed.
But Ainge again discussed the issue on Wednesday, disclosing that he and Stevens had in fact instructed — but not ordered — Rondo not to remain in Los Angeles.
“He let Brad know and he let me know that he was going to stay in L.A. an extra day,” Ainge said Wednesday on 98.5 The Sports Hub, as transcribed by ESPN.com. “We didn’t think that he should, but [told him] ‘It’s your choice and there may be consequences if you stay.’ It’s that simple.”
Despite the idle threat, no consequences were forthcoming, nor have any occurred since then.
“In the end, him and I had a long talk about it. This was all happening over the phone,” Ainge said. “He had planned it before and he had reason believe that it would be OK. I understand his reason to believe based on where he’s been and what he’s grown up with and what he’s seen and witnessed. You won’t see it happen again and we’ve just moved on from it.”
Ultimately, Ainge defended Rondo in a way, arguing that the point guard simply was playing by the rules of the old regime, not the new one.
“We’ve had a culture here that’s been a little bit different. … these kind of things have happened. We had a head coach [Doc Rivers] that lived in a different city and would take different planes to different cities,” Ainge said. “We’ve had [Kevin Garnett], who I think Rondo has probably learned more from as a leader and a basketball player and a pro than any other players because he was so young in his career playing with KG. KG didn’t sit on the bench when he didn’t play and Rondo’s been doing that every game except that Sacramento game and the Milwaukee game, which we held him back [in Boston] because were wanted to do therapy there.”
There seems to be some communications issues going on with the Celtics at the moment. Something that can be easily rectified.
So, much ado about … something? Not so much. Ainge insisted that the team has “no issues whatsoever with Rondo being our captain.”
“I think that now Rondo understands more clearly what we want out of him as a captain, that we want him on the road with the team,” Ainge said. “His leadership on the bench is important, whether he plays or doesn’t unless there’s a reason physically to not be with the team.”