ORLANDO — Rajon Rondo has no intention of giving new Celtics coach Brad Stevens any issues when the two begin working together and is becoming more excited about the post Big Three Era, according to Rondo’s agent, Bill Duffy.
Rondo has not commented publicly since the Celtics were eliminated from the playoffs by the Knicks May 3. There has been speculation that Rondo, the mercurial point guard, would clash with Stevens, who has no NBA experience and is joining the Celtics after six years as head coach of mid-major Butler University.
Stevens said at his introductory press conference Friday that he and Rondo had a good conversation, and that he was eager to work with the All-Star. Duffy described a conversation he had with Rondo.
“What I tried to convey to Rajon is you came in with some great mentoring, with some Hall of Fame players, so you learned and now you’re thrust in that role and you’re prepared for it,” Duffy said Monday at the summer league. “It’s going to be a challenge but a challenge you can be successful in, and it starts with you as a leader of the team.
“Brad Stevens has been very complimentary of [Rondo] and said he wants to learn from him because [Rondo] knows more about the league than [Stevens] does. But he’s a smart guy with a great pedigree thus far, and you’re one of the top players in the game, so it could be really special and unique.”
Duffy said Rondo is excited about his leadership role, but a bit anxious about the responsibility. “When you look at it from a myopic standpoint, he’s probably spoiled,” Duffy said. “It’s very rare throughout your entire career to have [the playoffs] locked. They’ve been very prominent and now it’s a rebuilding stage, and you’ve got to understand what they’re doing but you’re the centerpiece of it.”
Rondo is recovering from a torn right anterior cruciate ligament. Duffy said Rondo’s rehabilitation is going smoothly but would not place a date on his return. Team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he hopes Rondo can return by opening night.
The past month has been sobering for Rondo, who not only lost his first NBA coach in Doc Rivers, but close teammates Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who were traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a deal that will become official July 12.
“What I discussed with him is that if you’re in Danny Ainge’s position, there’s attrition, you have to turn the [roster] over,” Duffy said. “If you hold onto guys too long then you get no value for them, so that’s the nature of the business and the players understand that. You have to get value before someone is done.”