Rajon Rondo On Track for Training Camp Return to Celtics, Still Not on Trade Block

Rajon Rondo, Amare StoudemireBOSTON — Teams are calling to inquire whether the Celtics are willing to trade Rajon Rondo or not. The Celtics are answering those calls, but they aren’t placing any themselves.

That is the version of events offered up Monday by Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. Take that claim with a grain of salt, since it is Ainge’s stock answer whenever he is asked about trading his players. He said the same thing in the last two years regarding trades of the “Big Three,” and it later came out that he was very close to sending Paul Pierce to New Jersey, Ray Allen to Memphis and Kevin Garnett to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Ainge was adamant on Monday that Rondo is not on the block, though. He reiterated his comments from draft night, when he said Rondo was one of the few players on the roster he is not looking to deal, and again brought out his go-to line about the phone calls.

“The calls are coming in,” Ainge said after he introduced draft picks Kelly Olynyk and Colton Iverson at a news conference at the Mildred Avenue Teen Center in Mattapan. “The calls have not been going out. I think that the assumption is that what … maybe we’ll give away any of our players.

“Yeah, we have had calls on Jeff [Green], on Courtney [Lee], on Brandon [Bass], on Rondo and on our draft pick Kelly. There’s been calls for all those guys. Maybe the assumption is that we’re just changing everybody, but we’re not.”

Ainge’s insistence makes strategic sense. If a team wants to trade for Rondo, Ainge holds the position of strength by saying publicly that he does not want to deal his All-Star point guard. Ainge’s position is also strengthened if Rondo is recovered from surgery on his ACL by the start of training camp, which Ainge said is still the goal.

“That’s our objective,” Ainge said. “I’m sure there will be some maintenance, but opening day is a goal of his and ours. There’s no certainty in any of that. We think things are going really well and that’s still a good goal to have.”

So go ahead and give Ainge a call, rest of the NBA. He’s listening.

Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.

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