Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said last week he was eager to meet with point guard Rajon Rondo, and Stevens hinted it was at the top of his to-do list after a stop at the Orlando Summer League. True to his word, Stevens made a two-hour trek Thursday for his first face-to-face meeting with his All-Star point guard, traveling south on Interstate 65 from Indianapolis to Rondo's annual basketball camp in Louisville.
After meeting many of Rondo's teammates since being officially introduced as coach last week, Stevens spoke to the attendees at Camp Rondo and got a chance to chat with his point guard.
"[Meeting Rondo] was great. What an insightful, intelligent, neat person to sit down with," Stevens said during an on-camera interview with WDRB Fox 41 in Louisville. "I’ve got a chance to meet a lot of his teammates because we were down at the summer league and some guys would come by, so it’s been great to meet him and the other teammates. I think it’s been a really good situation thus far. It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind for me."
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has stressed that he has no intentions of trading Rondo this offseason, and when Stevens was asked at Rondo's camp whether he wanted Rondo playing for him next season, the coach said, "No question. Yeah, absolutely. And he is obviously one of the best point guards in the league and has been one of the best performers over the last ... seven years. He’s had a terrific young career and I can’t wait to get working with him."
In the seven days since Stevens was formally introduced as the 17th head coach of the Celtics, he has met with nearly all the returning members of the Celtics' core, including Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee and Brandon Bass. Being around the summer squad also allowed Stevens to meet younger players like Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo, Kelly Olynyk and Colton Iverson, along with roster hopefuls like Phil Pressey.
As Stevens noted, it's certainly been a "whirlwind" first week on the job, but clearly he has accomplished his primary goal of starting to build relationships with his players.
Last week, Stevens stressed his excitement to meet Rondo.
"I can't wait to sit down with him," Stevens said. "Because he's not only a really good basketball player, he's really intelligent, and you can see that in his game. And I think he's got that, not only an intelligence about the way he plays, but also an instinctive ability to see the next play coming. You can see that on both ends of the floor.
"Combine that with a good competitive spirit, and you've really got what he's been, and that's a really, really good player, one of the best players in this league. I can't wait to meet him. I can't wait to spend time with him. I hope that he can feel like, at the end of the day, he's learned a thing or two from me, but I'm guessing I'll learn a lot more from him."
Read on for video of Stevens at Camp Rondo via Fox 41 in Louisville: