NEW YORK — While Rajon Rondo was rather blasé about the return of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to TD Garden Sunday night, he left the weekend with a couple of lasting messages about his future in Boston.
The fact the Celtics attempted to re-sign the four-time All-Star point guard was an indication that the organization sees him in its rebuilding plan. And during dinner Saturday with Garnett and Pierce, Rondo received more encouragement regarding his longevity in Boston.
The veterans both said following the Nets’ 85-79 win over the Celtics that Rondo has the guile and maturity to lead the Celtics into a new era. They relayed the same message to Rondo at dinner.
“I think he’s ready now,” Pierce said Sunday. “Rondo is mature, he understood what was coming. Before he had me and Kevin to lean on, and now he’s the guy. He’s the captain, he is who everybody looks to for leadership and I think he’s ready.
“He’s grown. He’s matured. He’s seen the bottom. He’s seen the top. He’s got to understand that this is his team to lead through good and through bad. I think he understands that and he is ready for that role. And he’s ready to deal with it.”
Rondo said he keeps in touch with his former teammates, and Pierce has been encouraging him to embrace a leadership role.
“I think he took notes last time we were talking to him,” Garnett said. “More importantly, we stressed that you need to lead by example, even when he doesn’t want to. I also talk to him about being professional and being a pro. You don’t get to pick and choose when you get to do that. Just understand the pedigree of a champion. You don’t let losing become something usual. Keep the mentality tough, and not all are going to follow but most will. Lead by example and just having a voice, do it by example.
“Rondo is ready. I think he is very comfortable in his role here. I think he understood the transition when it was happening, and he has the type of mentality and he’s the type of person with the personality to do just that.”
Rondo, as his style, downplayed the dinner: “Nothing in particular. It’s just what I’ve been learning from those guys over the past 5-6 years that they’ve been here. Just continue to grow as a person and lead by example.”
A brief stay
Vitor Faverani returned to the Celtics Sunday after a one-day stint with the Maine Red Claws. He had 13 points and seven rebounds in a 115-104 win over Fort Wayne Saturday. He trekked to Portland with his brother and a few friends and said he enjoyed the experience.
“I take my car, take my brother, take the trip and come back after the game,” he said. “No, [I didn’t get lost], Google maps is my best friend right here in America.”
Faverani, who played five minutes Sunday and scored 2 points, has fallen out of Brad Stevens’s rotation. Faverani said he would be open to returning to Maine to play more minutes.
“It reminds me when I played in Spain, the second league, six years ago,” he said of the Portland Expo Building, home of the Red Claws. “So it’s really, really nice for me. I really liked playing there. The guys on the team are really good people. They tried to help me. The coach [Mike Taylor] is very nice.
“I am ready to play there when they want me.”
Faverani said he stopped at Burger King on the way back from Portland because his brother loves hamburgers. When asked what he ordered, the burly Faverani said: “I got a big salad with grilled chicken.”
Johnson with team
Former D-Leaguer Chris Johnson accompanied the Celtics to New York Monday afternoon, an indication the team will sign him to a second 10-day contract.
Johnson has averaged 27 minutes over four games, averaging 10 points and 3.3 rebounds. The former Dayton standout scored 11 points in his Celtics debut Jan. 21 at Miami. He had 12 points Sunday.