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Danny Ainge isn’t ‘trying’ to trade Rajon Rondo

12.01.11 at 8:18 pm ET
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During a press conference Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers held on Thursday at the Celtics practice facility in Waltham, Ainge was asked what he would tell Rajon Rondo regarding trade rumors involving Chris Paul.

“I’€™ll talk to Rondo, but I won’€™t tell you what I’€™ll say to him,” Ainge said. “Rondo will be fine. Rondo knows that we love him. He’€™s excited to come back and play basketball, is my opinion. He gets a lot of attention. He’€™s a great player. There’€™s a lot of people that call me and ask me about Rondo. How these rumors get out, it’s unfortunate but we didn’€™t leak those rumors out and we’€™ll deal with it. He’€™ll be fine.”

To which Rivers added:

“I’€™m not going to compare him to the other guys but I think he’€™s one of the top point guards in the NBA. There’€™s a reason when whatever this thing leaked out was all over the news it’€™s because the players they were talking about are both really good. Rondo has established that through his play. He is a great basketball player and he does so many things for our team. He should be flattered, in a lot of ways, that this is news.”

This prompted the following follow-up exhange:

Reporter: So Danny, you’€™re not trying to trade Rondo?

Ainge: I’€™m not.

I believe that. I believe that Ainge isn’t trying to trade Rondo just as he doesn’t “anticipate” moving any of his other core players, which was another way in which the question was phrased on Thursday.

Pick any adjective or qualifier you want, but I also believe that if Paul could be acquired for a package of players that involves Rondo that Ainge would do the deal. Just as I believe that Ainge would trade anyone on the roster if he thought it would make the team better. At no point on Thursday did Ainge or Rivers say the rumors, which have been reported by Sports Illustrated and Yahoo! were off-base, inaccurate or wrong.

Ainge is in limbo because he’s still not allowed to talk to Rondo until the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified.

“Usually I’€™m around them when these things happen. It’€™s sort of a unique situation that’€™s happened now,” Ainge said. “I will talk to the players and share them the truth about rumors. I don’€™t like to discuss them in the media, but I will discuss them with players.”

The rumors took a different turn on Thursday because Yahoo! also reported that Paul’s agents told the Hornets that he won’t sign an extension and that he wants to be traded to the Knicks, who everyone agrees don’t have the assets to acquire Paul. If Paul holds firm to that demand — i.e. don’t trade me somewhere I don’t want to go because I won’t sign an extension and will go to New York one way or another — that could weed out potential suitors. Like the Celtics.

That leaves Ainge in the potentially unenviable position of reassuring Rondo that he’s a big part of the long-term future.

“We love our players and I think our players know that,” Ainge said. “There may be sensitive feelings here and there but I think those will be addressed. I’€™m not worried about that at all.”

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