Rajon Rondo declined an extension offer from the Celtics, as president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said today on WEEI radio. That’s no surprise, given that Ainge said in January that they’d spoken about an extension but that the discussion had ended. Most veterans in Rondo’s position don’t sign extensions, since the collective bargaining agreement makes free agent contracts much more player-friendly, though Ainge said in January that he’d continue to try to strike up talks as the point guard’s 2015 free agency approaches. Ainge made plenty of remarks today on WEEI and 98.5 The Hub, and we passed along Ainge’s willingness to bring back Paul Pierce earlier today. Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com chronicled Ainge’s comments today, and we’ll hit the highlights. All links go to Rohrbach’s Twitter account, unless otherwise noted:
- Rondo’s name has also appeared in trade rumors, and while Ainge said that he can envision the point guard back in Boston next season for the final year of his contract, he also said no one on the roster is off-limits for a trade.
- Ainge and his staff will consider trading this year’s lottery pick, and Ainge added that he doesn’t have patience for another losing season.
- The team might bring back soon-to-be free agent Kris Humphries, too, Ainge says, but at a pay cut from his $12MM salary this season. Ainge nonetheless suggests that he might include Humphries in a sign-and-trade that would benefit him financially.
- Ainge isn’t putting a timetable on the team’s return to title contention after a rough 2013/14, as Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com chronicles.
Earlier today, we were given an early peek at Steve Mills’ interview with Spike Lee on XM Radio via ESPN New York, where the Knicks GM said that he and team president Phil Jackson could “do something special” while working together. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News weighed-in on the interview, passing along that Mills’ original plan upon being hired was to hire someone to run day-to-day basketball operations while then focusing on the business side of things. Ironically, Mills is now operating under the direction of a basketball executive.
Here’s what else we’ve gathered out of the Atlantic Division, including more from Isola:
- During the interview, Mills claimed that he gave up his title as president and retained his title as general manager once Jackson was hired, which implies that Mills had a choice in the matter, opines Isola.
- Isola says it’s unclear if Jackson still plans to hire his own personnel guy and what that could mean for Mills. Mills has suggested that his strengths lie in his relationships with players and agents, though Isola wonders how that will mesh with Jackson plans. The Knicks president recently told the media that he doesn’t plan to work as closely with agents or any one agency as the team had done in recent years.
- One source tells Isola that Mills was prepared to make a coaching change on several occasions this season; Mike Woodson was ultimately kept on board because the team had either gone on a winning streak or owner James Dolan decided to overrule Mills.
- Celtics guard Rajon Rondo hasn’t asked management to inform him about personnel decisions, but he told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe that he’d like to know what direction the team is going in: “I want to be aware of what’s going on, especially if I’m part of the future here…And being the point guard, I would like to know what the team has in store or wants to do or the moves they want to make. I think I’ll be around in Boston this summer and I’ll look forward to what’s going to happen. I’m very excited.”
- This offseason, Boston will have plenty of available assets at their disposal to make significant moves, details Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston.
Here’s the latest from Atlantic Division that doesn’t involve Phil Jackson and the Knicks:
- Evan Turner told reporters. including Michael Kaskey-Blomain of Philly.com, that he has no animosity toward the Sixers, who traded him away to the Pacers at the trade deadline.
- Turner was surprised that the Sixers traded him and Lavoy Allen for just a second-round draft pick and the now-bought out contract of Danny Granger but said he’s confident Sixers GM Sam Hinkie has something “up his sleeve.” Turner said it takes guts to commit to rebuild in a city like Philadelphia, per Tom Moore of Calkins Media (Twitter links).
- The Sixers are sending Arnett Moultrie to the D-League, a league source tells Moore (Twitter link).
- Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck tells Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe he wants Rajon Rondo to stay with Boston beyond his current contract. “I love the guy. I love his championship ring when he was the young kid. I love his growth.” said Grousbeck. “It reminds me of Paul Pierce. Growing from the moments in his younger days and making progress toward being an all-time Celtic and a leader. I am always hopeful that a guy like that is going to stay around.”
- Rondo appreciated Grousbeck’s comments, he tells Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe (All Twitter links). “It means a lot, especially coming from the head guy,” said Rondo. “With all the rumors swirling, the criticism that I was having throughout the past couple weeks, he stuck his neck out. (Wyc) didn’t have to say anything, but he did. I’ve talked to Wyc since then. Everything is what it’s supposed to be.”
- Jerryd Bayless echoes Grousbeck’s appreciation of Rondo, and writes on his personal blog that he hopes to play with him as Celtics teammates beyond this season (H/T Alex Kennedy). “It seems like transitioning to being the team leader has come pretty naturally for Rondo,” Bayless writes. “I think he has been preparing for it for a long time, and it shows. He’s a great leader, I’ve had a great time being able to get to know him in the last couple months, and hopefully, we can grow as teammates for a long time.” Bayless will be a free agent after this season.
- Recent Suns acquisition Shavlik Randolph told Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com that he was shocked and disappointed when the Celtics released him last summer, but he understands Boston’s decision (Twitter links).
Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck sat down with Bob Neumeier of CSNNE at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference to discuss a handful of team-related topics. Although Grousbeck admitted some disappointment about the team’s struggles this season, he remains focused on the future: “I had hoped for a better record than this, I know Brad Stevens had hoped for a better record for sure, because he’s a guy that would light himself on fire to win even a quarter of the game much less the whole game…So we’re about winning around here. It’s not happening for us this year, but we’re going to take a long-term view.”
You can find more of Grousebeck’s notable comments below (link provided from a CSNNE Staff Report).
On Rajon Rondo:
“… I can’t imagine the Celtics without him. It’s challenging. There’s a lot of interest in him. He’s going to come up in a year on his free agency. So we’re going to try to keep him. I hope it works out. If it doesn’t work out we’ll go to Plan B. But he’s been great for us, he’s got us a ring, and is now the captain of the team, and I love having him here.”
“Now having Brad replace Doc, I wasn’t sure I was ready for Doc to go, but it seemed to be time when it all shook out. Brad is, I can’t think of a more fabulous coach and up-and-coming coach in the league. I think there’s 30 teams one way or the other that are envious of our coach right now.”
On attracting premier free agents to Boston:
“The more I hear about free agency in Boston and the more that I see all the money that’s … the money in the league has doubled just even since I’ve been here. Everything’s doubled and almost doubled again. There’s tons of money. What these guys don’t have is a ring. If we can get it to a place … we really attracted Kevin Garnett here with a chance to win a championship. You can say technically he wasn’t a free agent, but really technically he was. He didn’t have to come to Boston and he did. So in my opinion KG was a free agent who came to Boston and won a championship. And there are other guys out there that want to win rings, and if they want to win them, I think we have to be in the mix.”
Pistons forward Josh Smith acknowledges the idea that he’ll join prep school teammate Rajon Rondo on the same NBA team anytime soon is far-fetched, but he’s optimistic that it will happen sometime, as he tells Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe. The two have spoken about the possibility multiple times, Smith says.
“He’s my best friend, especially in the NBA,” Smith said. “We definitely connect. We take family vacations together.”
Smith added that Kevin Garnett joined them for those trips. There was trade talk surrounding Rondo and Smith prior to the deadline, but neither ever appeared close to changing teams. Smith says he’s content playing with the Pistons, who last month reportedly shopped him. A pair of reports this summer from fellow Globe scribe Gary Washburn indicated that Detroit was interested in acquiring Rondo via trade. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge insisted he wasn’t looking to deal the four-time All-Star, and set a steep price tag on him as the deadline approached.
Smith is under contract through 2016/17, while Rondo is set to become a free agent after next season. The Pistons, at this point, have enough cap flexibility for the summer of 2015 to sign Rondo for up to the max if both sides would be willing, but the BDA Sports Management client will surely have plenty of other suitors.
Rondo didn’t speak to Holmes about his relationship with Smith, who was the point guard’s roommate at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. Oak Hill coach Steve Smith invoked Rondo’s connection to the school earlier this season when he claimed that Carmelo Anthony, another Oak Hill alum, was attempting to recruit Rondo to the Knicks, but Anthony and Rondo denied those talks.
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com looks at a recent report from Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report about the future of Joe Dumars in Detroit. Dumars is weary of the criticism he has received in trying to rebuild the Pistons after constructing a franchise that went to the Eastern Conference Finals six years in a row. The criticism fails to account for the dismal Detroit economy and restraints placed on Dumars while the team was up for sale and changing ownership, as Bucher notes, and Moore points to the success the team had early in Dumars’ tenure. Still, Moore advocates for a change. The Pistons are currently 24-36, three games out of the 8th spot in the East.
More from around the league:
- During a rough season, Bucks GM John Hammond is being praised for drafting a “gem” in Giannis Antetokounmpo, tweets Chris Mannix of SI.com. The “Greek Freak” is averaging 7.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 1.9 APG over 24.5 MPG.
- Evan Turner is still getting acclimated with the Pacers, but both he and the team think it’s been a good fit so far, writes Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Turner has played in five games with the team, and has averaged 9.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 1.6 APG in 22.2 MPG. How Turner adjusts to the Pacers will impact if he is in their plans going forward when he becomes a free-agent after the season, writes Kennedy.
- Danny Ainge said that the Celtics had asked Rajon Rondo to travel with the team last week, but instead Rondo chose to stay in Los Angeles to celebrate his 28th birthday, writes Royce Young of CBSSports.com. Ainge said, “In the end, him and I had a long talk about it. He planned it before and he had reason to believe it would be OK. I understand his reason because of what he’s grown up with and what he’s witnessed. You won’t see it happen again, and we’ve just moved on from it.” This isn’t expected to change the team’s immediate plans regarding keeping Rondo, according to Young.
Should the Knicks decide that it’s in their best interest to keep Carmelo Anthony and try to surround him with the requisite pieces needed for title contention, it’s almost a given that one plan would involve adding a big-name free agent during the summer of 2015 – when names such as Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo could hit the open market and New York would have plenty of cap room to work with. Such a plan might not be that appealing to Anthony, as rumblings indicate that the Syracuse star’s camp is only interested in what gets done this summer and not in 2015, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.
Here’s a roundup of more significant points from Isola’s piece:
- By July 2015, Anthony will be 31 years old; the thought of added mileage from another NBA season without the proper reinforcements could possibly be enough to dissuade the Knicks star from committing to New York long-term,
- James Dolan would be wise to bid farewell to Carmelo this summer rather than give him five years and $127MM to stay, especially when the alternative involves clearing valuable cap space and still having a first round pick in what would most likely be a rebuilding year in 2014/15.
- As for Love, Isola hears word that the 6’10″ big man’s current train of thinking involves either re-signing with the Timberwolves or heading to the Lakers once he hits free agency.
- While Rondo’s success includes a championship in Boston, Isola adds that the 28-year-old point guard’s personality, his clashes with Celtics coaches in the past, and that he played a role in Ray Allen‘s decision to leave for Miami make him a less-than-ideal fit next to Carmelo.
The Celtics and Lakers played last night, but there wasn’t nearly as much at stake as there usually is when the storied franchises meet. Both teams are struggling this season, although it has been more so by design in Boston. Here’s more from the team that usually resides a lot higher in the standings:
- Rajon Rondo wasn’t upset by the trade rumors that spiked around the trade deadline, but he apparently didn’t rule out the possibility that he could be dealt, telling Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe in a subscription-only article, “I didn’t know what was going to happen.” It never appeared that the Celtics were open to moving him for anything in the ballpark of what teams were offering.
- Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald thinks that Rondo’s detached leadership could hurt the Celtics, specifically players who are anxious when they hear their names swirling in trade rumors. Rondo says he doesn’t worry about reassuring players of their value to the team. “I don’t talk much about it,” he said. “We didn’t speak much about it as a team. [Coach Brad Stevens] announced it a couple of times in the meetings, but I didn’t say much about it.” Bulpett thinks Rondo should think more highly of his own voice within the organization, but the point guard doesn’t seem to think his input would change much. “You can’t worry about stuff you can’t control, you know? Everybody’s situation is different. I can’t worry about [Jeff Green] being traded, because it’s out of my control. He can’t worry about if I get traded. That’s just part of the game. It’s not the first trades that a lot of these guys have been through. We’ve all been through them, and when that time comes, it comes.”
- In his “GM for a Day” series, Bradford Doolittle of ESPN Insider [subscription only] takes a look at the Celtics. Doolittle thinks that GM Danny Ainge is in no danger of growing impatient and trying to jump-start the rebuilding process at the expense of the team’s long-term plan. He also covers decisions that lie ahead for Boston, including whether they will still eventually trade Brandon Bass, if they will waive Gerald Wallace and absorb the remainder of his dubious contract, and the outlook for soon-to-be free agents Jerryd Bayless, Kris Humphries, and Avery Bradley.
The Knicks‘ Iman Shumpert managed only 17 minutes on the court tonight before he was forced to leave the game with a knee injury. With his name involved in at least two deals under discussion, the early word on the second-year man out of Georgia Tech was that he has a sprained MCL in his left knee, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski, adding that Shumpert is on his way back to New York to undergo an MRI.
- Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, citing a source close to the situation, tweets that a deal sending Jeremy Lin back to New York is very unlikely.
- While they’re desperate to deal Evan Turner, it looks like the Sixers may not get what they want in return. Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that Philly may settle for a second rounder as part of a bigger package for the Ohio State product, adding that the team has plenty of cap room to take back money but doesn’t want to make Turner a qualifying offer this summer (Twitter links).
- Point guard Rajon Rondo is unlikely to be traded, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England, who adds that the Celtics star is likely to draw significantly more interest this summer once he re-establishes his health.
- Sam Amick of USA Today offers his ruminations on Rondo, opining that having the point guard under contract through next season gives general manager all the leverage in any negotiations. Amick also reiterates his report that the Rockets and Celtics have not discussed a deal involving Rondo.
3:23pm: The teams have yet to speak about any Rondo deal, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today.
2:25pm: The Rockets have “absolute interest” in trading for Rajon Rondo, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. That alone doesn’t make a deal happen, Stein cautions, but he notes that talks could easily strike up between Rockets GM Daryl Morey and his former boss, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge (Twitter link). The Rockets were also linked to Rondo last month.
The asking price for Rondo is astronomical, as the team appears to be looking for a pair of unprotected first-round picks virtually guaranteed to come near the top of the order. A source tells Stein that Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck is behind the team’s lofty demands, as the ESPN scribe noted in a piece earlier today.
The Celtics would insist on acquiring Chandler Parsons, but Houston doesn’t appear willing to give him up, Stein tweets. Still, the Rockets are making renewed attempts at trading Omer Asik, and Boston was involved in rumors when Morey made efforts to unload his backup center in December. The notion of Asik getting involved in any Rondo talks is just my speculation, however.