I don't remember ever seeing as many conflicting stories and rumors surrounding the team as I have seen this off season. It seems as though every day there is a new trade rumor and every day there is a new denial or conflicting statement from Danny Ainge.
It all started with the rumor from the Suns that Danny offered Rondo and Ray for Amare Stoudamire, Leandro Barbosa and the 14th pick in the draft. Next came the rumor that Danny was offering Kendrick Perkins and Bill Walker for the second pick in the draft. Next up was the rumor about Danny offering Ray and Rondo for Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey. Finally we have the story circulating about Danny offering Ray and Rondo for Rudy Gay and Mike Conley.
Amid all these rumors, we have gotten mixed messages from Danny. It's almost as though he has a split personality as one minute he says he loves Rondo and the next he is saying how immature he is and how he needs to work on several things. Here is a sampling of quotes from Danny: First from his press conference yesterday.
“He showed up late for a playoff game so we’re going to trade him. None of those things is true. We love the kid and we think he’s got a very bright future. I don’t anticipate any trades happening this offseason involving any of our core players.”
“The notion that we might be trading him for some reason other than we think that we could be better or trading any player because of some reason (like) his contract,” Ainge said. “I’ve heard speculation of we’re dissatisfied with him or his attitude. That stuff is so false.”
That sounds simple enough. Danny loves Rondo. There is no problem with his attitude or upcoming contract extension.
Then, Danny was on Dennis and Callahan the next day and had this to say about Rondo:
Rondo, as we saw in the Orlando series, they left him wide open. His presence hurt us in winning right now. His man left him and doubled Ray or Paul. It made it difficult for us.
I don’t think that Rondo’s a max contract player. I think it’s a good goal for Rondo to have from a monetary standpoint, to be that kind of player that warrants a max-contract player. I certainly don’t see Rondo as a max contract player today.
There was just a couple of situations where Rajon was late. I don’t know if he was sitting in his car, but he showed up late and the rest of the team was there, and he was late. There are team rules in place and he said he was in traffic. That was unacceptable.
While he also still has some positive things to say about Rondo and repeated that he doesn't plan on trading Rondo, it is clear that there are some problems and he does expect more out of his point guard. There are reports that Rondo has an attitude problem. Here are some quotes from Chris Broussard on the ESPN Buzz.
"Rajon Rondo is definitely on the market. I'm told he's very hard for Doc Rivers to coach, and that although Rondo gets along OK with his teammates, he's far from a great teammate. The fear in Boston is that if Rondo is this difficult to handle on a rookie-scale salary, he'll be a monster once he earns big money.
One GM told me, "They won a championship with this guy, and he's coming off a tremendous playoff performance ... and they're looking to trade him. That tells you how bad things are."
We hear all of the rumors with a new one seemingly popping up every day. We hear Danny saying that he loves Rondo on one hand but that he needs to grow up and be a leader and learn to shoot and he isn't going to get the max contract he is hoping for on the other hand. And then, tucked in Marc Spears' article in the Globe, we see this little bit:
One NBA GM said that he asked Celtics president Danny Ainge about Rondo and Ainge said he didn't want to trade him.
What all this says to me is that Danny really doesn't want to trade Rondo, but sees an opportunity to get the price down on what it will take to sign him. However, he may be opening a can of worms with the way he is handling this because Rondo's agent, Bill Duffy, isn't too happy with Ainge's comments:
"I am just surprised that Danny is speaking, even if he considers it constructively, in a public setting,'' agent Bill Duffy said to Marc J. Spears of the Boston Globe. "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 he would like it if Wyc was talking about him in public."
In other news, the Bucks and Spurs have made a significant trade sending Richard Jefferson to the Spurs for Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto, and Kurt Thomas. Oberto has already been traded to Detroit for Amir Johnson and there have been reports that they may buy out Bowen. This doesn't make much sense for the Bucks as they seem to have gotten very little in return for a key player. But, it gives them them some cap space next year so it may have been mostly a financial move. It makes the Spurs a contender in the west again.
After sending Foye and Miller to Washington for the 5th pick, the Wolves now have 4 first round picks, including the Celtics pick from the Garnett trade. Rumors are that they are looking to make even more trades before the draft is over. They are offering the 5th and 6th picks to try to entice the Grizzlies to give up the second pick.
I'd love to see Chris Anderson as the back up PF/C for the Celtics next season. I still don't know why Danny didn't sign him last season. He was definitely a better choice than O'Bryant and he signed with Denver for only $998,398. I'd love to sign him as a free agent this off season but word is that re-signing Anderson is one of the Nuggets' priorities this off season.
Apparently, the Nuggets want Dahntay Jones back as well. There were rumors around that Jones was the Celtics target in free agency but the Denver Post has this to say about him.
Meanwhile, the agent for unrestricted free agent Dahntay Jones said the "goal" is for Jones to return to Denver, but that Jones desires a multiyear deal. He signed with Denver last summer for one year at $926,678.
"I think Dahntay would like to make a home, feel like he'll be a part of something for a long period of time," agent Mark Bartelstein said. "We're not going to rule out anything else, but he'd prefer a lengthy deal. . . . We'll go through the world of free agency. He's proven he can be a really valuable piece to a very good team.
In other Celtics' news, they are expected to give Big Baby a qualifying offer making him a restricted free agent. They could then match any offers that he receives from other teams. It will depend on how crazy other teams get with their offers as to whether the Celtics see fit to match them. Also, Eddie House is still deciding whether to take his player option with the team for next season or try to get more money elsewhere. Both the offer for Big Baby and the option by House have to be made by June 30. Free agents can begin negotiating on July 1.
In the bizarre category, Phil Jackson is considering coaching next season without any travel. He wants to coach the home games and then when they go on the road, Rambis would be the coach on site but Phil would still be making the calls from home via computer and telephone. Now that would be weird. I wonder if they would hold up a picture of Phil when they do the introductions on the road.
Bill Simmons isn't a big fan of what Danny is doing. Here is what he had to say on Twitter.
Danny: You're handling this Rondo thing poorly. You don't want to pay him + are ACTIVELY shopping him to other teams. Stop saying otherwise.
Tomorrow's the big night and I expect it to be a busy night but Danny still insists it won't be one for the Celtics: http://www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/extras/celtics_blog/2009/06/ainge_to_stay_p.html
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge acknowledged via text message tonight that he doesn't expect his franchise to make any trades to get into the first round, acquire a second round pick or to get a player. Boston currently only has the 58th overall pick in the second round.
But then again, it may just be smoke and mirrors as he said pretty much the same thing before he traded the 5th pick for Ray Allen a couple years back. There certainly has been plenty of smoke. Now it's time to see if there is any fire behind it.