HOUSTON — No player is untradeable. That’s a take-it-to-the-bank truism no matter the player or his situation, because the NBA — like other professional leagues — is, of course, a business.
With that said, it seems unlikely that Rajon Rondo will be leaving Boston any time soon.
“What’s real is, he’s going nowhere,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Monday. “That’s what’s real.”
Ainge was speaking on the heels of another round of trade rumors involving the Celtics’ star point guard, who has yet to play a game this season because he is recovering from right knee surgery.
The latest batch of buzz involved a New York Daily News report Sunday alleging that the New York Knicks, a division rival of the Celtics, were interested in acquiring the four-time All-Star.
The terms of a proposed deal included Knicks guards Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton, along with big man Amar’e Stoudemire.
However, Ainge, speaking generally, said that he has not received any inquires from teams interested in acquiring Rondo, something he doesn’t believe will change.
“Rondo is coming off an injury and I think people know how much we love Rondo, so I don’t expect anybody to inquire, quite honestly,” Ainge said.
“People know that Rondo is a big part of our future and that we’re not going to trade him.”
From afar, the terms proposed in the Daily News report make zero sense for the Celtics (4-7), who play the Houston Rockets (7-4) Tuesday night at the Toyota Center.
Firstly, the aforementioned players aren’t in the same stratosphere of talent as the 27-year-old Rondo, one of the league’s elite players who led the NBA in assists per game the past two seasons.
Secondly, Ainge, known for demanding a steep price in any transaction, is adamant in his view that Rondo is the “centerpiece of our future,” a point he repeated Monday.
“Guys that are starting All-Star players just don’t come around,” said Ainge.
“The special players, the transcendent players in our league, are very difficult to find and acquire. We believe Rondo is one of those guys. He’s a very special player. We value him a great deal.”
The Celtics made many offseason changes, overhauling the roster and hiring Brad Stevens as coach after Doc Rivers left for the Clippers.
And there could always be more changes around the bend, especially as the February trade deadline draws closer and the Celtics work to reshape their roster.
“In this situation,” Ainge said, “Rondo is ours and we’re anxiously awaiting his return.”
Rondo had surgery in February to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
He has made progress with his recovery, and was running wind sprints and even trying to dunk the ball before the Celtics played the Timberwolves in Minneapolis Saturday.
Rondo didn’t participate in a full practice with his teammates here Monday, but Stevens said Rondo, who was soaked with sweat by the end of the session, was more active than usual.
“He did a lot of things, which was good,” Stevens said.
Stevens added, “You can clearly see he’s making progress.”
Ainge said there is no time frame for Rondo’s return, but added, “I don’t think we’re feeling that it’s real close. It’s not any time real soon.”
Stevens echoed that point with regards to a timetable, saying, “I can’t imagine its any time very, very soon.”
Stevens pointed out that he’s not intimately involved in the trade discussions, but he indicated that he’d know if they were taking place.
And on that note, Stevens dismissed any alleged discussions involving the Celtics.
“I think until it’s something validated on the inside, then I would say I don’t even pay attention to rumors,” Stevens said. “Nothing, to me, has really been discussed.
“I’m not a part of that group, with regard to making decisions like those, so I just focus on coaching the team. The one thing you can’t get caught up in, and I lived this in college, is not everything you read has any validity.”
Then in a moment of levity, Stevens, who was standing before three Boston reporters, paused.
“No offense,” he said with a smile. “Everything you guys write is valid.
“But you know how Twitter rumors go. You know how those things go. And they’re going to gain steam any time things like that are out there, but I don’t consider them to be valid until I hear from the important people.
“I think it’s all speculative talk right now, and it’s probably going to continue to ramp up as teams get more into their season, I would guess.
“You guys know that a lot more than I do.”