About a decade ago, Josh Smith and Rajon Rondo teamed up for a dominant 38-0 season at Oak Hill Academy, a prep powerhouse in Virginia.
Smith and Rondo are now in the NBA, Smith with the Detroit Pistons, Rondo with the Celtics, but the two have talked about reuniting again.
“The conversation comes up,” Smith said Sunday before the Celtics defeated the Pistons, 118-111, at TD Garden. “We always tell each other how surreal a moment that would be for us to be able to reconnect again in that realm.”
Smith noted the differences with his and Rondo’s contracts — Smith is signed with the Pistons until 2016-17, Rondo’s deal expires after the 2014-15 season.
“It can be far-fetched, but it could be possible too, at the same time,” Smith said.
Has Smith ever thought that it could happen?
“I’m always optimistic,” he said. “I always think of different scenarios. It could happen, but who knows?”
Smith admitted to thinking about he and Rondo reuniting last summer before Smith signed a four-year deal with the Pistons.
“I thought it could’ve been a possibility, but you know, I’m in Detroit,” Smith said. “I’m happy I’m here. He’s still here. He’s still creating his market as a Celtic.”
The two were roommates at Oak Hill.
“That’s where the relationship started,” Smith said.
They broke down film together and worked out before and after practices, as the gym was within walking distance of their dormitory.
They’ve remained close since.
“He’s my best friend, especially in the NBA,” Smith said. “We definitely connect. We take family vacations together.”
Smith said that he has gone on vacations with Rondo and former Celtics forward Kevin Garnett.
“I could see the friendship that they carried,” Smith said. “Both of those guys are really good individuals and really good people. Just being able to see how they carry themselves and how they hang out. They have a very close relationship. I know when KG first got on the team, [Rondo] kind of paid attention to pretty much everything that [Garnett] did as far as his work ethic and his professionalism.”
Smith said he also has confidence that Rondo can adjust to his new role as the captain of a rebuilding team.
“He’s the type of player that accepts challenges and this was just an obstacle in his way,” Smith said. “I think that he’s overcoming it. Each and every game in each and every week that he’s playing, he’s picking his numbers up and he’s playing the way that everybody knows how he’s capable of playing.”
Said Smith, “He’s doing a good job of being a veteran on the team, teaching these guys verbally and showing them how to do it. He’s a player with a very high basketball IQ and he’s doing his due diligence to apply it to the game and help these young guys on how to win and how to do it the right way.”
Rondo ruled himself out of Wednesday’s game against the New York Knicks, which is the second game of a back-to-back, saying that he still isn’t physically ready.
“I’m still pretty sore when I wake up [the day after games], he said. “My Achilles’ bothers me the most when I get out of the bed. Throughout the day, it gets better, but I still don’t want to try to overdo it and [then] something else happens because of that.”
Rondo hasn’t played in the second game of a back-to-back since he returned to action in January after missing nearly a year following a knee injury.
Rondo said the determining factor for him on how he feels is his calves, his Achilles’ tendon, and his knees.
Wallace stops by
Swingman Gerald Wallace stopped by the Garden after having season-ending knee and ankle surgery last week.
The veteran said the surgeries, which were his first ever, went well.
“Not as bad as I thought it would be,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be back on my feet and start rehabbing by some time next week.”
His target for being full speed, he said, is training camp.
“That’s my goal right now, so I’m not rushing it,” Wallace said. “Got a couple of months, so hopefully by training camp I won’t have any worries.”
Wallace said he plans to hang around the team until the season ends. Then he’ll return to his native Alabama for the summer.
But while he’s in Boston, Wallace said he’d like to catch some Red Sox games.
“As long as the snow’s gone,” he added.
Babb stays on
Chris Babb said he agreed to sign a second 10-day contract with the Celtics. His first 10-day contract was set to expire Sunday at midnight.
“Yeah, yeah it’s definitely a relief,” the guard said.
He was notified by Celtics executive Mike Zarren, who came into the locker room after Sunday’s game and asked Babb, “Do you want to stick around?”
“Yeah, sure. Why not?” Babb replied.
Babb has averaged 3.8 points in four appearances with the Celtics.
“Like I said, I’d really like to have him around,” said coach Brad Stevens. “All indications are that everybody feels that way within our organization.”