Over the weekend Celtics GM Danny Ainge dithered about the chances he would trade Rajon Rondo, saying the C’s weren’t looking to move their all-star, before cautioning that anyone could be traded. The same weekend, Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck was a guest on WBZ-TV’s “Sports Final Overtime” and attempted to explain his mercurial point guard, clouding Rondo’s future in a C’s uniform even more.
The owner said he’d “absolutely” like Rondo to remain with the Celtics long-term, but cautioned that “[Rondo’s] super stubborn.” Grousbeck added that Rajon was a solid kid who loves Boston, but revealed, “I don’t know how coachable he really is.
“I know if you ask [former, long-time head coach] Doc [Rivers], ‘Was he the most coachable guy, or in the top half, 50 percent,’ he’d say, ‘No, he’s in the bottom 50 percent of being coachable.’ It’s hard with him,” Grousbeck warned.
So why does Grousbeck want Rondo to remain in Boston if he’s such a headache to coach?
“It’s intangible,” Grousbeck said of the Celtics captain. “You just watch him. He played through sort of a broken elbow, a ripped knee. He’s a gamer, he’s a competitor, and he’s got world-class talent.”
Remember, Jackie MacMullen told colleague Frank Isola during a behind-the-scenes taping of “Around the Horn” that the Clippers wouldn’t trade for Rondo because coach Doc Rivers, “doesn’t like Rondo, remember that. I mean, he’s done with Rondo.”
In the summer of 2013, at the time Doc Rivers was mulling his future and eventually decided to leave the Celtics — in return for a first-round pick — to coach the Clippers, Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com reported that Rondo and Rivers had come close to blows after Rondo cursed him out during a team meeting. Sheridan wrote that Rondo was the primary reason Doc took the Clippers job rather than stick around Boston to coach Rondo through a rebuild.
There haven’t been any altercations on that scale between new Celtics coach Brad Stevens and his captain, but it’s clear from the earlier reports Rondo can be a handful for a coach, and Grousbeck acknowledged that Sunday night.
We’re not sure what Grousbeck is doing here. Ainge is understandably cagey about Rondo’s future, since he’s evaluating any offer that comes across his desk while trying to refurbish the team. Rondo is Ainge’s biggest trade asset right now, but first Rajon will need to show he’s all the way back from ACL surgery before Ainge can sell high — hopefully before the February deadline so they don’t lose him in free agency this summer.
Except, why wouldn’t Grousbeck only play up Rondo’s positives — his will to compete, and “world-class skills” — while ignoring his contentious relationship with his former coach?
Rondo is one of the more mysterious players in the league primarily because he plays everything so close to the chest. He’d much rather play Connect Four with an eight-year-old than talk about anything with a reporter, and that’s what makes him so unique. He’s also a point guard who can spot passing angles seemingly from a different realm while beating pretty much everyone off the dribble. Maybe he lacks three-point accuracy of some of his peers, but he was elite at his position before the injury.
Rondo is an all-star, and when the lights are the brightest — national television games, the playoffs — he’s usually at his best. But he doesn’t get along with everyone, and that could hinder Boston’s chances at getting equal value for him on the trade market. They’ve already found it difficult to move him because a lot of possible trade partners want to see Rondo in the 2014-15 campaign to evaluate how healthy and explosive he is after ACL surgery. If Grousbeck were smart, he’d downplay Rondo’s negatives and ac-cen-tuate the positive.
Will the Celtics trade Rondo or try to re-sign him as a free agent this summer?
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