Rondo’s agent responds

Irked by Ainge’s public criticism

By Marc J. Spears
Globe Staff / June 25, 2009
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The agent for Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo criticized team president Danny Ainge last night for being critical of his client yesterday morning on WEEI’s “Dennis & Callahan’’ radio program.

During the interview, Ainge commented that Rondo has “got to grow up,’’ and added, “his presence hurt us’’ against Orlando in the Eastern Conference semifinals, that Rondo wasn’t a “max contract player,’’ and acknowledged Rondo was fined for being tardy to postseason games.

“I am just surprised that Danny is speaking, even if he considers it constructively, in a public setting [about Rondo],’’ agent Bill Duffy said in a phone interview. “I don’t think that it’s appropriate to say that about one of your top players. Even if it’s spoken constructively, I don’t think it should be done in public. I don’t think [Ainge] would like it if [Celtics managing partner] Wyc [Grousbeck] was talking about him in public.

“What they’re saying about him critically is actually an asset to him. He is feisty. He is competitive, yes. Last time I checked they won a world championship with him at point guard. If the team wasn’t hurting they might have done it again this year. Rondo’s tough love from Danny isn’t necessary. He’s self-motivated and a self-starter.’’

Duffy said Rondo learned about Ainge’s interview after working out at the Celtics’ practice facility in Waltham. Rondo declined comment. As of last night, neither Duffy nor Rondo had spoken to Ainge. When asked how Rondo felt about Ainge’s comments, Duffy said: “He knows. He’s all right.’’

Rondo has been the subject of trade rumors leading up to tonight’s NBA draft. The 6-foot-1-inch, 191-pound guard averaged 11.9 points, 8.2 assists, and 5.2 rebounds this past season. The 23-year-old surged in the playoffs, averaging 16.9 points, 9.8 assists, and 9.7 rebounds in 14 games, building his reputation as one of the league’s up-and-coming players.

The Louisville, Ky., native will make $2.09 million next season, his last year under his rookie contract, and the Celtics have from July 1 through Oct. 31 to sign him to an extension. If they don’t, he will likely be a coveted restricted free agent in the highly anticipated 2010 market.

When asked if Ainge’s comments affected Rondo’s contract situation, Duffy said: “It doesn’t sound like a glowing endorsement. You say you love him and then you are critical? You’re certainly not recruiting him.’’

Ainge has squashed numerous trade rumors surrounding Rondo and expressed strong affection for him Tuesday. Ainge also said on “Dennis & Callahan’’ that Rondo was in the discussion among top five NBA point guards and was already in the top 10. He said Rondo wasn’t a “disruptive force’’ and was a “dynamic player and we love the kid.’’

Duffy said Ainge “gave me every assurance that he wasn’t moving [Rondo]’’ on Monday, and the agent hasn’t requested a trade either.

“No, it’s not to that point,’’ Duffy said. “But if they choose to trade him, then that’s their prerogative.’’

On Rondo’s fines for being late for playoff games, Duffy said: “That’s a private matter.’’

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