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Danny Ainge on why he traded Rajon Rondo 12.20.14 at 1:55 am ET
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Here’€™s the first question Danny Ainge was asked in his press conference prior to Friday’€™s game: “Why did you trade Rajon Rondo?”

Ainge’€™s answer was brief, “€œThere was a definite uncertainty into what may happen this summer. So that was a big factor.”

That’€™s all Ainge initially said on trading away his largest asset for what will presumably be a late first-round pick in 2016 and a second-rounder in that same draft, as well as a few misfit parts. Those few words tell us everything we need to know, though.

Ainge believed Rondo was going to bolt in free agency and didn’€™t want to lose him for nothing, so he traded him. It was the right move, plain and simple.

However, uncertainty remained a key word.

“We like the players that we got in the trade,”€ Ainge expanded. “€œBut, listen, I think that with [Rondo’€™s] impending free agency and uncertainty of what may happen this summer, I think that gave us the impetus of wanting to do a deal.”

Ainge was later asked how long these uncertainties had existed regarding Rondo’€™s future in Boston.

“Oh, I think that there’€™s been uncertainty for a while,”€ Ainge said. “You know, as to what kind of team we’€™d be able to put together. We tried this summer to get some significant players in, unsuccessfully, and there’€™s a price that we won’€™t go [to], either. [A price] that we won’€™t pay for any player in order to make that happen this past summer.

“At the same time, there’€™s been uncertainty as to what [Rondo’€™s] future would be, and there’€™s been uncertainty as to how he would return and how he’€™d come back and play [after tearing his ACL]. Yeah, I think he’€™s understood that, and I’€™ve understood that and we’€™ve talked about it.”

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Right move to trade Rajon Rondo, but Celtics waited too long 12.19.14 at 4:33 pm ET
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Danny Ainge finally decided it was time to send the last standing piece of his 2008 championship roster on its way. It was the right move, there’s no doubt about it. But couldn’t it have been done sooner?

Ainge’s Plan A was no secret: Find a star to place next to Rajon Rondo. This plan began on June 27, 2013 — the day the Celtics agreed in principle to send Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn. Despite Ainge aggressively searching for that star, it just wasn’t there. When no deal presented itself at last season’s trade deadline, Boston patiently waited for summer to arrive.

By June, it looked like the Celtics might be rewarded. Kevin Love did some notable flirting with Boston, and even chatted with Rondo himself at Fenway Park. Ainge went all-out to bring Love to Boston, and for a while it looked like he could offer Minnesota the best package to pry Love away. As we now know, one thing led to another and Minnesota got an offer it couldn’t decline. It was almost an unthinkable offer in which the Timberwolves received back-to-back No. 1 overall picks (Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett) for their star. In ways it was bad luck for the Celtics, but Plan A failed the second Love went to Cleveland.

Ainge kept looking for trades but just never found one. Not only was a deal to add a star not out there at the time, there were no foreseeable trades on the horizon for the upcoming (now current) season. Plan B, it’s now clear, was to trade Rondo. Which begs the question: Why not trade Rondo as soon as Plan A failed?

This is the part I don’t understand. Was Rondo really expected to succeed on the team he was given to lead this season? He’s not that type of player. In years past, debates have gone as far as to question which point guard you would rather have with players like Rondo against the likes of Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. Those debates are nowhere to be found today. Most of that is to blame on Rondo’s ACL tear suffered in January 2013. But Rondo has never been the same type of player as other point guards in the league.

Rondo’s uniqueness lies in the fact that his value is controlled by the talent of his teammates — something we can’t attribute to any other player. Rondo will thrive in Dallas, mostly because he will be playing with his best surrounding cast since at least 2010. He couldn’t succeed in Boston because the talent was not there, and for that reason Boston should have moved Rondo as soon as it realized it couldn’t add the necessary stars that its current star required.

Knowing now what Ainge’s floor was, in terms of a deal he would accept for Rondo, wouldn’t he have taken a first-round pick in the 15-25 range of this past June’s draft? Yes, Love still was an option at the time, but the idea of him coming to Boston was fading. Even after the draft, a team like the Rockets had long been rumored to be interested in Rondo. Just a day prior the draft, Houston acquired New Orleans’ 2015 first-round pick in a deal for Omer Asik. That pick figures to be higher than Dallas’ will be in 2016, why not go for that? Obviously, Houston didn’t want to make a deal using that pick now. But what about five or six months ago?

Hindsight is 20/20, but I (like many) was shocked by the low return on Rondo. Boston recieved Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder and conditional first- and second-round draft picks. But Rondo had to go — Kendrick Perkins has even revealed to Yahoo! Sports that Rondo wanted out of Boston.

In the end, Ainge made the right move for the franchise. Why he waited so long I may never understand, but, in fairness, we still don’t know what the final return on Rondo will be. Wright is a nice player with one of the highest efficiency ratings in the league. Could Wright, Nelson and/or Crowder fetch another draft pick before the trade deadline? Ainge purposely got this deal done more than 60 days before the deadline so that trading players he got in return this season remains an option.

Ainge is a smart guy. He often makes gutsy and questionable moves. One of them was taking a gangly point guard who couldn’t shoot with the No. 21 pick 8 1/2 years ago. Who’s to say he won’t experience that success again with the pick he just got from Dallas?

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Celtics trade Rajon Rondo to Mavericks 12.18.14 at 6:17 pm ET
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It all happened very quickly, but Rajon Rondo is now a member of the Dallas Mavericks.

Trade rumors crept up on Wednesday before ESPN.com’s Marc Stein originally reported what has since become official: Rondo has been shipped to Dallas along with rookie Canadian forward Dwight Powell for a package that leaves many questioning if Boston got enough.

“We would like to thank Rajon for everything that he has done for the Celtics organization and the success we have experienced during his tenure with us,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a statement.

“We would not have won Banner 17 without Rajon and will always consider him one of our most valuable Celtics, both on the court and in the community working with kids,” added Celtics managing partners Wyc Grousbeck, Irv Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca and Robert Epstein. “We will always cherish the time he was here.”

The deal, which has since been announced on the Mavericks’ website, landed Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder and two draft picks in return — Dallas’ 2015 first-round selection and 2016 second-rounder. The move also forced Boston to release second-year Brazilian center Vitor Faverani.

Rondo took to Twitter just after midnight and sent out multiple tweets. Here’s Rondo’s message in full:

My time in Boston has meant so much. I’ve grown up with this city both as a basketball player and person. The love I have for the most loyal and supportive fans in the league is unmatched. My teammates have shown nothing but heart the last couple of seasons. They are some of the hardest working guys I have played with and I wish them the best. I’ve experienced my most successful and challenging years with the Celtics, fans and city. The opportunity to play with guys like Dirk, Monta, Tyson and the young talent of Chandler is exciting. I look forward to building something special in Dallas.

Rondo averaged 10.8 assists, 8.3 points, 7.5 rebounds in 22 games this season with the Celtics.

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Brad Stevens addresses Rajon Rondo trade rumors at 1:21 pm ET
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Following the Celtics‘ victory over the Magic on Wednesday night, Rajon Rondo spoke about the trade rumors surrounding him. Essentially, Rondo maintained the stance that he does not want to be traded, but that the rumors will continue to be part of life in the NBA.

Before Thursday’s practice, Celtics coach Brad Stevens addresed the trade rumors.

“Obviously, we experienced it all the way through last year,” Stevens said. “From my standpoint, the most challenging thing of it is, number one is just coaching the group and making sure that everybody knows we’re focused on playing Minnesota [on Friday]. We’re focused on doing what we need to do to get everybody playing at the best level that they can.

“I think that a lot of these guys that are older have probably dealt with the talk throughout their years in the league, but I don’t know that it’s ever not unsettling. [My] door is open if anybody wants to talk about it and those type of things. I don’t talk a ton to Danny [Ainge] and his staff, they only say if there’s really something that I need to know. It’s one of those things you just try to do your job the best you can through all circumstances.”

So does Stevens expect to be a part of any trade discussions?

“My job is pretty well defined,” Stevens said. “And that is to coach, and to get our team ready to play and to play as well as we can. My expectations aren’t very big. I just want to be in the loop as [Ainge and his staff] deem appropriate. They’re good at their jobs and I’m hired to coach.”

Stevens went on to speak very highly of Rondo when asked how he thought his point guard was playing this season, but that’s to be expected whether Rondo remains the captain of the Celtics, or if the final rebuilding move is to ship him out.

We already know it isn’t Stevens’ call as to the future of Rondo, but the coach seems very set on sticking to what is asked of him and keeping faith in Ainge’s ability to build winning teams. Many of the trade rumors that have circulated so far don’t seem to accomplish that for the Celtics, so expect the rumors to drag on.

Read More: Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge, Rajon Rondo,
Report: Carmelo Anthony would consider a trade 24 games into $124M contract 12.12.14 at 1:44 pm ET
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Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony

Well, this didn’t take long.

Marc Berman of the New York Post is reporting that Carmelo Anthony would consider waiving his no-trade clause (for the right situation) just 24 games into his five-year $124 million contract. Of course, many reporters who cover the Knicks have come out to dispute this report. It is a bit ridiculous that Melo would give up on New York this early, but let’s roll with Berman’s story for argument’s sake.

Is Anthony a player worth pursuing if you’re Danny Ainge?

Strong arguments can be made for both sides.

WHY A CELTICS-KNICKS TRADE FOR ANTHONY MAKES SENSE

Ainge has been waiting for a big name to be made available, and Anthony would be the only one with trade speculation swirling around him … well, outside of Boston’s own Rajon Rondo. The Celtics are at a crossroads when it comes to the direction of the team. Ainge has been stockpiling assets for a youthful rebuild, but it has always been on his mind that he could turn those assets into win-now players if the opportunity presented itself, much like it did in the summer of 2007.

Boston would provide Anthony with a significantly better supporting cast than he has been given in New York, specifically Rondo. Ainge runs one of the only franchises with the combination of draft picks and expiring contracts to land Anthony, as well as persuade the star that the Celtics are a team worth his while.

Here’s an idea of what the Celtics could offer the Knicks: Jeff Green ($9.2M player option next season), Marcus Thornton ($8.6M expiring), Brandon Bass ($6.9M expiring) and a first-round pick in each of the next three drafts. Normally teams can’t trade picks in back-to-back drafts (let alone three in a row), but thanks to the C’s situation, they could offer their own picks in 2015 and 2017 (and the Knicks would have the right to swap picks with the Nets in 2017 if their pick ends up a better one than Boston’s) and the Nets‘ pick in 2016.

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Read More: Carmelo Anthony, Danny Ainge, Rajon Rondo,
Celtics might be in big trouble if their leader can’t step up 12.03.14 at 12:38 pm ET
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Last year, in the first season of the Celtics‘ post-Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett rebuild, we expected them to stumble to one of the league’s worst records. They did just that, ending up with a record of 25-57. No big deal. We all saw it coming and knew the results would be tough. But 15 games into last season the C’s held a record of 5-10 — all games in which Rajon Rondo did not play. That’s not bad.

This year was expected to be different. Rondo would be beginning the season with the team, Danny Ainge used the No. 6 pick in the draft on the promising Marcus Smart, and the rest of the youngsters had another year of experience under their belts. That young core included Brad Stevens, who arguably had as much learning to do as any player on his roster in his first go-round as an NBA head coach.

Despite all of the positive signs heading into the season, it has not been any different. In fact, it has been worse. The Celtics have a record of 4-11 after 15 games — that’s bad. Their loss to the Hawks on Tuesday night was the fifth time this season that the C’s have blown a lead of 15 or more points and lost the game. Growing an enormous first-half lead and then losing the game has become routine for these Celtics, especially on their home floor.

In ways it’s depressing that after opening up a 23-point lead in Atlanta the expectation was that they would find a way to lose, but those who saw it coming were right. The reason is their fourth-quarter execution, as they rank last in the league in fourth-quarter scoring. Stevens knows that the C’s will continue to produce disappointing results until his team does something about it.

“The game honors the more physical team,” Stevens said following the loss. “It does night in and night out. We’ve just got to improve in that area.”

He later concluded: “I’m not crazy enough to think that if [the physicality] doesn’t change, we’ll be sitting up here a lot like this.”

The fourth-quarter numbers have been well documented at this point, but it seems laughable that the Celtics haven’t even gotten lucky and been able to close out any of these games. The main problem in the fourth quarter has been the apparent disconnect between Rondo and his teammates during crunch time.

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Rajon Rondo didn’t want to miss last Saturday’s game vs. Bulls 11.11.14 at 3:40 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics held practice at their training facility in Waltham on Tuesday as they prepare for a three-game homestand, beginning Wednesday night against the Thunder.

The most noteworthy news from practice was the fact that Rajon Rondo practiced in full after missing last Saturday’s game in Chicago to have screws removed from his surgically repaired left hand. Although minor, this certainly was not a procedure that was planned far in advance — nor did Rondo seem happy about missing the game.

“Danny [Ainge] made a decision at halftime [of Friday’€™s victory over the Pacers], I had no idea,”€ said Rondo when asked when it was made official he wouldn’€™t be joining the team on its flight to Chicago Friday night.

After Friday’s game was when Rondo was notified he would be staying back in Boston to get the screws removed. Even without Rondo Saturday night, the Celtics defeated the Bulls, 106-101.

“€œ[I] came in very pissed off, but, you know, the team got the win. … I just wanted to go travel with my team and play against Chicago,” Rondo said.

Rondo added he thought he would have had the surgery on Sunday — an off day.

“Well, I thought we would have the day off Sunday anyway, and I thought I could do it Sunday, but they [Ainge and team doctors] make the decisions,”€ Rondo said.

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