Carry the ball bag, pick up the dinner tabs, let Austin Rivers ride him around the locker room like a tiny horse: Rondo did it all*, slowly but surely endearing himself to his veteran brothers to eventually become—in their eyes—something of an equal.
(*I don’t think he did any of these things.)
Now, with the Boston Celtics in full-on rebuilding mode and Rondo facing unrestricted free agency in one short year, the 28-year-old All-Star point guard is hoping to have more than a small say in how his team approaches this offseason—everything from who the Celtics draft to potential free-agent pickups.
From a recent interview with The Boston Globe’s Baxter Holmes:
I want to know what’s going on, but Danny [Ainge] communicates with me, talks to me about guys he might possibly bring in during the trade deadline. Obviously, nothing happened [at this season’s deadline], but communication lines were open. They’ve been honest.
If you’re the Celtics, that kind of transparency makes total sense: Even if you plan on shopping Rondo heavily ahead of next season’s trade deadline—something they’ve done since he was in middle school, it seems—it’s important to make your best player at least feel like he’s part of the plans.
Even more so when you’re talking about Rondo, an unapologetically mercurial guy whose introspective intelligence can often be mistaken for aloofness—arrogance, even.
Holmes’ interview is chock full of evidential gems on this front:
I don’t really care what people think. The people in my circle do know the type of person that I am and know the genuine person that I am. If you don’t know me, then you just don’t know me.
I don’t go to bed at night thinking about what people say about me. If people think I’m a bad person, so be it. That’s their problem. Millions of people only know me from what they see on TV.
What they’ve seen, on the whole, is one of the league’s most unique, creative point guards—a quintessential floor general whose impeccable offensive decision-making is matched by his rangy defensive presence.
The question now becomes: Does Rondo see promise in Boston’s youthful rudiments? Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk all showed flashes of potential over an otherwise forgettable 25-win season.
If this story by CBS Sports' Ken Berger—written, it should be noted, while Rondo’s name was being bandied about in endless trade rumors—can be believed, Boston may well be able to convince their cagey cornerstone to stick around a bit longer:
If Rondo is going to stay, he must be willing to endure some pain first. He must be willing to tolerate losing, which is something he does not accept willingly. He also must understand that the team around him is going to change again -- dramatically, and he would hope, for the better. Gerald Wallace and Brandon Bass are clogging up the Celtics' cap room. But Ainge's most prized asset remains Rondo, who said before the season, "This is my team. Why would I want to leave? ... I've never backed away from a challenge."
With Kris Humphries $12 million salary officially off the books, Boston will have a bit of cap room to play with this summer. Not enough to reel in a star, perhaps, but plenty with which to pursue some solid ancillary pieces.
Whatever route the Celtics choose, it sounds like Rondo will be right there in their top-five in-case-of-emergency contacts—right there with Brad Stevens, Bill Russell and definitely not Antoine Walker.