Rondo "intrigued" by free agency

Rondo "intrigued" by free agency
January 31, 2014, 6:45 pm
(AP Photo)

WALTHAM, Mass. — Less than a week ago Rajon Rondo said he wouldn't mind finishing out his career with the Boston Celtics.

Following the Boston Celtics' practice today, Rondo said he was "intrigued" by free agency.

Rondo's response comes on the heels of a report that says the four-time All-Star does indeed plan to test the free agent waters in 2015, the earliest he can become a free agent.

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, calls the latest talk about Rondo's future as being "ridiculous."

"Come on, man! They're talking about Kevin Durant's free agency in 2016 already; Carmelo Anthony. It's ridiculous," Ainge told CSNNE.com.

"It becomes a story because not very many people understand what free agency brings to Carmelo and Kevin Durant and Rajon Rondo," Ainge said. "It gives them (the potential for) five-year max contracts which are way more significant than two-year extensions, three-year extensions. And they have to say these things. From my perspective, it's like, 'duh.' If you're around the NBA, those are like obvious things."

Ainge added, "Rondo doesn't know what he's gonna do. We don't know what he's gonna do. We don't know what we're gonna do. Nobody knows the answer to this."

Rondo isn't fanning the speculative flames of his impending free agency status. But he's not exactly going out of his way to put an end to the talk, either.

When asked if he had a response to the report about him testing the free agent waters in 2015 Rondo said, "no; not at all."

That was "No, not at all" in reference to having a response to the story which is very different than "no, not at all" that the story isn't true.

The only thing Rondo can commit to at this point is that free agency is an option for him, one that he has never had as an NBA player that he should should give some consideration to going forward.

"It's kind of like college recruiting, but I'm pretty sure a lot more goes into it in the NBA," Rondo said. "A lot more money is spent. I heard stories, guys get called at midnight. It's something I haven't experienced. I may want to go through it, but I haven't thought about it at all."

Lost in Rondo's interview session on Friday was him acknowledging that this season is about him shaking off the rust while next year will be about him regaining the form that made him one of the NBA's top point guards.

Well aware of this, it's hard to imagine the Celtics would trade a player that they know is going to be better - a lot better - than the shell of a player he is currently.

And while he shakes off that rust, Boston will still struggle and in all likelihood wind up with one of the league's worst records. Rondo's return hasn't helped the Celtics win any games (they are 0-6 with him this year), it will in all likelihood keep them from sinking to the absolute bottom of the NBA standings.

That's a good thing.

The last time the team with the league's worst record wound up with the No. 1 overall pick was the Orlando Magic in 2004 when they selected Dwight Howard.

Looking ahead for a moment ... if you throw a healthy Rondo on the floor with what would most likely be a top-five pick plus youngsters on the rise such as Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, Boston would likely have a core group at that point that could get back to the postseason which would be tangible progress.

And it's hard to imagine that trading away Rondo will net them a player that can move them any closer to being a postseason mainstay next season.

Ainge reiterated on Friday that it is his intent to keep Rondo in a Celtics uniform.

But part of his job as the team's GM is to listen to any and all offers and then decide if there are deals to be made that can help the Celtics, either immediately or in the future.

The Celtics are far more interested in what's around the corner than what's directly in front of them, which is why adding a high-impact player now is not necessarily a priority.

It's all about developing the young players, seeing who fits into the plans going forward and who does he need to move on elsewhere.

And Rondo - for now at least - figures prominently in the Celtics' plans for the future.

But will that necessarily get a deal done between the two this summer or the summer of 2015?

Both sides will have more in-depth discussions during the offseason about a new deal which is why the speculation that Rondo will definitely test free agency 18 months from now, isn't something that Ainge will lose any sleep over.

"There's so much time between now and then," Ainge said. "Who knows what the heck happens in a year and half from now. Why are we wasting our time talking about it now?"