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Rajon Rondo finds comic relief in Stern warning

10.22.10 at 4:22 pm ET

WALTHAM — Rajon Rondo can be one difficult person to read.

Take Friday for example. Following practice, he was asked about David Stern‘s comments a day earlier in which the NBA commissioner said he wants player salaries cut by a third or up to four teams may have to be contracted. Stern is looking to save NBA owners – his bosses – between $750 and $800 million.

It was bargaining posture that sports fans have become accustomed to in the collective bargaining era. But still, the threat had a very serious undertone.

Are NBA players worried about Stern’s latest shot in the bargaining battle?

“Who? David Stern? It doesn’t worry me at all,” said Rondo, who is in line to make $9 million this season.

Is Rondo, the Celtics‘ alternate player rep behind Paul Pierce, preparing for the possibility of a lockout at the end of the season?

“I’m preparing for like there is one,” Rondo added. “I’m saving a lot of money this year. I’m saving a lot on my car insurance, too. Geico.”

While that might seem like the off-hand comedic comment it is, he followed up with something a little more telling.

“We’re focused on the season. It’d be great if we could get a ring heading into a lockout but other than that, I’m focused on the season.”

Rondo is scheduled to earn $9 million this season while Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are all in line to earn between $10 and 18 million this season. The Celtics payroll is at $83.3 million, not including the rookie contract to Semih Erden.

Stern said on Thursday that the league and its owners spend $2.1 billion on salaries and benefits and that can’t continue if the owners are going to make a profit in the league.

Other notes from Friday:

Delonte West practiced but only in a limited fashion as he heals a lower back/glute injury.

Jermaine O’€™Neal said he will be ready for the season opener on Tuesday despite playing with torn cartilage in his left wrist, injured when he took a charge in Toronto game in a preseason game on Oct. 15. He is wearing a small brace to protect the wrist.

O’€™Neal said he is also not worried about whether he or Shaquille O’€™Neal is the starting center beginning Tuesday night against Miami. ‘€œWe don’€™t compete for starting time, we compete for this team,” Jermaine said. “It’€™s not about who’€™s coming off the bench. Me and Shaq honestly believe we don’€™t care who starts. It’€™s an adjustment process for both of us. Sometimes, it’€™s going to be sporadic opportunities.’€

Coach Doc Rivers said he would like to see the preseason schedule cut in half to four games over the same time period. ‘€œI don’€™t run the league but I’€™d love to cut it down to four preseason games in the same length of time,” Rivers said. “That would give us a ton of practice, a ton of rest and would help everybody. That’€™s never going to happen.’€

Erden is playing with a sore shoulder. “It’s nothing like Perk shoulder but it is a problem and something we have to be aware of,” Rivers said.

Rondo on Miami on Tuesday: ‘€œIt’€™s just one game. We obviously have the back-to-back [against Cleveland]. We want to take care of Miami first. Hopefully, guys aren’€™t too nervous and for the most part, the starters have been in the league for a long time.

‘€œWe might [get lost in the moment]. It’€™s too early to say. Everything is different. Each Finals is different. This is a big Game 1. We had one last year [vs. Cavaliers] and one the year before. Obviously, the first game is a big step.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, David Stern, NBA, NBAPA
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