The two-game suspension for Rajon Rondo likely won’t change the demeanor of the All-Star point guard, and the Celtics have no issue with that.
President of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he had a private conversation with Rondo regarding his third suspension in nine months, and he understands that Rondo’s temper and passion won’t change.
“Rondo and I talked and I think Rondo is not happy with the fact that he’s not there on this team in the next two games,” Ainge said Friday. “I think that’s the most important thing. Rondo’s a very emotional player, he’s a tough competitor. And I think he realizes that it’s more important to play.”
When asked about Rondo’s growing reputation as a volatile player, Ainge said: “I think [three suspensions in nine months] is high. I just hope the next nine months is better.
“Hey, listen, it’s not good. There’s nothing good about it but I love the kid, he’s a competitor, he’s a warrior, and he needs to be in control, and I’m confident he will.
“If it happens once in the next nine months, then maybe that’s progress instead of three times. I don’t expect that Rondo’s going to play the rest of his career and not go over the line emotionally. I guess I’m OK with that, just going to learn from it.”
The Celtics have an open roster spot and Ainge said a big man is a more pressing need than backup point guard. He would not comment on whether the club has had discussions with free agent forward Kenyon Martin, considered the best available rebounder.
“There’s some thoughts but there’s nothing imminent,” Ainge said of adding a player. “You’ve got to score and you’ve got to stop, it doesn’t matter what plays you run. It doesn’t matter if your playbook’s five [plays] or your playbook’s 500. We need to get stops and rebound the ball is what we need to do.”
Though the Celtics entered Friday last in the league in rebounding average, Ainge said the current roster can improve that weakness.
“It’s been shown that it can come from within, and there’s no doubt in my mind,” he said. “Last year we were one of the worst rebounding teams. We got into the playoffs and we rebounded well.
“It’s focus. It’s effort. It’s five guys doing it. All it takes is one guy to not be doing his job. That’s sort of where we are. We are not getting everybody to lock in on every possession, and until we do we’ll be ordinary.”
Rest isn’t easy
The Spurs were fined $250,000 by the league Friday for sending four of their top players home before Thursday’s showdown with the Heat in Miami. Doc Rivers, a close friend of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, didn’t agree with the penalty.
“I don’t like it. I think we should have our [choice]. I do get the other side of it but it’s a tough one,” Rivers said. “You’ve got to coach your team to win in the long run and you’ve got to do whatever you need to do, and if it’s sitting players, you sit players. It’s a tough one.”
Rivers also has veteran players to rest but has never done something as drastic as send players home before the end of a road trip.
“Listen, we’ll [rest players] when we want to do it, and we should be able to do it. It could be early in the season, end of the season,” Rivers said. “There’s just so many [issues]. Hopefully, we’ll figure it out. I think it was an action and a reaction, and I thought the reaction was probably overdone and then you have to have an action [the fine].
“Whatever is going to help your team win, a coach is going to do because if you don’t and it hurts your team then you won’t be around.”
The Celtics were glad to have Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox available in Friday night’s 96-78 win over the Trail Blazers; both left Wednesday’s loss to the Nets.
Green sprained his right knee but finished the game and participated in Friday’s shootaround. He scored 19 points. Wilcox left the Brooklyn game with an illness and did not participate in shootaround. Rivers said he was leaning toward keeping the forward/center out of Friday’s game, but he came off the bench after Jason Collins picked up three first-quarter fouls. Wilcox had 2 points in 14 minutes.
Joseph back up
The Celtics recalled forward Kris Joseph from the Maine Red Claws of the NBADL. He scored his first NBA points on two fourth-quarter free throws . . . Avery Bradley was shooting on the court before Friday’s game but his return to practice is uncertain. An NBA source said Bradley is “very close” to being ready for competition.Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe