It's becoming pretty apparent, however, that the coach-point guard relationship is only improving as the two spend more and more time together. In fact, the coach is downright impressed with the continued development of Rondo as one of the game's elite point guards.
Speaking on The Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday, Rivers, like Celtics president Danny Ainge, admitted that the Celtics explored the idea of trading Rondo last year for Chris Paul. That didn't work out, of course, and Rivers seems more than fine with that.
"We were not very close at all," Rivers said about any and all Rondo trade rumors. "We explored the Chris Paul thing. We were never, ever close to trading him, except for that moment [in a potential deal for Paul], and even that wasn't very close."
Rivers spoke glowingly of the continued progress that Rondo has made, not only in his game, but as a leader and a teammate. The coach did yield that Rondo can sometimes have the shortcomings that have been reported on over the years, but those pale in comparison to what he can do on the basketball court.
"I don't care if he's moody, or stubborn, but he's also a genius," Rivers shared. "You have to give him room, which I do."
In fact, you could make the argument that this is Rondo's team now, as he continues to evolve in just about every aspect of his game.
"You could not replace, especially with our team," Rivers explained. "We have a bunch of guys who are great shooters, great scorers, but they need a great point guard to play with them.
"He grew as a teammate, as a leader. I believe that's part of the reason Kevin [Garnett] is coming back. It's almost like the LeBron [James]-Dwyane [Wade] thing where the older guys have to give into the younger guy."
Rivers also added that Rondo "grew as much as any player I've ever seen" during the this year's playoffs. Rondo averaged 17 points, 6.7 rebounds and just under 12 rebounds per game in 19 playoff games.