Danny Ainge Wonders Whether Rajon Rondo’s Talent Is Worth Headaches

In a lengthy profile of Rajon Rondo published earlier this week, ESPN.com’s Baxter Holmes illustrated something Boston Celtics fans have known for years: The four-time All-Star point guard isn’t always the easiest guy to deal with.

Holmes’ piece — which opens with an anecdote about Rondo, now on the Dallas Mavericks, angrily throwing a water bottle at a television and subsequently getting booted from the Celtics’ locker room by then-coach Doc Rivers — features accounts from players, coaches and staffers who have known Rondo over the years, including a telling one from Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

“He doesn’t like to be told what to do,” Ainge said. “He wants to be coached, but when you coach him, you’d better know what you’re talking about. And even then, he still may challenge you. The question always was, ‘Is he a good enough player to behave the way he does?'”

Ainge doesn’t offer an answer to that question, but the fact that he traded away Rondo for a relatively modest return earlier this season suggests that’d be “no.”

Some other highlights from the article, the full text of which can be found here:

— “Rondo’s Connect Four prowess has since become legendary and has made for heartwarming-yet-awkward community outreach moments. The day he was traded to Dallas in December, he spent his final hours as a Celtic at Boston Children’s Hospital, crushing all comers in the game, repeatedly telling kids, ‘No mercy.’ ”

— Rivers, on the idea that he left the Celtics to escape Rondo: “That’s ridiculous. Our biggest disagreements were usually over ‘Stop outsmarting yourself,’ because he’s so far ahead of the next action. You’ll run a play and it’ll work, and then he’s already thinking about what to do if they counter. And I would say, ‘Well, they haven’t countered yet, so let’s not change until they counter.’ We would run a play that works and he would come down and change the play. I’d say, ‘Why would you change that?’ He’d say, ‘Just in case.’ I’d say, ‘Well, let’s let them mess up first and then we’ll change it.’ ”

— “Before Rondo’s first playoff series against Atlanta in 2008, the Celtics distributed a 100-page book full of the Hawks’ plays and statistics. Rondo took it home, then challenged assistant Darren Erman the next morning: ‘Quiz me on anything.’ Rondo nailed every question, until Erman tossed a curveball — a question about something that wasn’t in the book. ‘(Expletive) you,’ Rondo said. ‘That’s not in there.’ ”

Thumbnail photo via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images

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