WALTHAM — Nearly a week since he missed a team trip to Sacramento to stay in Los Angeles and celebrate his 28th birthday, Rajon Rondo has hashed out the issue with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who said he was satisfied with the point guard’s explanation.
Rondo was not scheduled to play in last Saturday’s game at Sacramento, as it was the second in a back-to-back set and he was resting his surgically repaired knee after playing against the Lakers Friday night. But he did not have clearance to remain in Los Angeles.
Ainge and Rondo talked at length Thursday, and Ainge, who would not say whether Rondo had been fined or penalized, appeared content.
“It was between Rondo and I, and I learned some things that I didn’t know and we had a long conversation about it and I’m satisfied with it,” Ainge told the Globe. “He learned from it, too. Let’s move on.”
Rondo, who returned in mid-January after missing nearly a year following surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, does not play on the second night of back-to-backs. When the Celtics traveled to Milwaukee to play the Bucks Feb. 10, the day after losing to the Dallas Mavericks at home, Rondo remained in Boston with the team’s approval.
But this incident happened in the middle of a road trip, without the team’s endorsement.
Rondo has been the subject of trade rumors over the past few years, and when asked if this incident hurts the perception of him throughout the NBA, Ainge said, “I have no idea. I don’t think so. It certainly shouldn’t. It doesn’t change my perception of him at all.”
Rondo did not speak with reporters at practice Friday, but when asked about the issue following Wednesday’s win over the Atlanta Hawks, Rondo offered little insight.
“I haven’t really read much about it,” he said then. “Heard a lot of comments. Nobody knows the story. You guys keep making up every story you guys possibly can. It’s my business. Not yours.”
Ainge would not say Rondo was at fault for not being at the game or whether it was a misunderstanding, but he defended his point guard.
“Whether it was a mistake or whether it wasn’t a mistake I think is in question,” he said. “Second of all, for those that want to assume that it was a mistake, leaders make mistakes. All leaders make mistakes. That’s just part of it. That doesn’t disqualify them as leaders. Leaders learn, too.”
Coach Brad Stevens said he’s choosing to put the controversy in the past.
“I haven’t read or heard everything,” said Stevens, “because obviously I’ve got a lot of stuff going on right now. It really is closed from our standpoint and I think that the most important thing we all can do, as I said the other day, is continue to move forward. I thought the best way for him to do that was to lead and play well on Wednesday.”
On Wednesday, Rondo scored a season-high 22 points and had 11 assists in a 115-104 win. Rondo saved the Celtics, who started terribly, by diving for a steal on DeMarre Carroll, sparking a 23-6 run that put Boston ahead in the second period.
“I sent him a text [Thursday] because it’s not easy when you’re kind in the middle of a storm cloud to go out and perform or go out and put forth the right amount of effort,” Stevens said. “And we don’t win the game if he doesn’t dive on the floor when it’s 23-10 [Hawks].
“I am dead convinced. It turned the whole game around. He dove on the floor, he cut up his chin, we got energized. It became contagious and that was the best way he could respond to everything.
“From our relationship, from everything in here, this is in the past for us.”Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.