By Marc Stein
In a discussion with ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard two nights ago, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo insisted that it won’t mess with his psyche or his season to “just wait” until next summer should Boston maintain its current stance and resist signing him to a significant contract extension before the Halloween deadline.
I don’t think Rondo’s kidding, either.
Rondo’s situation will continue to generate scrutiny because of trade speculation in June and the occasional public criticism he’s absorbed from his bosses despite averaging close to a triple-double in last season’s playoffs (16.9 ppg, 9.8 apg and 9.7 rpg) . . . after helping the Celtics win it all one season before.
The reality, though, is that Rondo -- barring a slip in production that roughly no one in the NBA expects -- is headed for a substantial payday if he winds up as a member of the 2010 free-agent class.
Rondo would be part of that class as a restricted free agent, true, but at worst that means he’d likely be forced to sign an offer sheet with one of the many teams that have positioned themselves to have significant salary-cap space next July and then return to the Celtics if the offer sheet is matched. Some team out there will inevitably test Boston's resolve if it gets that far.
“It’s not the worst situation,” one Rondo confidante insists. “He will get paid. It won’t affect him if he has to wait. He is fearless.”
Our man Chad Ford has a very thorough rundown of Rondo’s 2006 draft class and its struggles as a group to score extensions this October. Something materializing with Rondo and the Celtics before Halloween appears to be a long shot – apparently because Boston fears that it’s too soon to give the 23-year-old a fat new deal – but I tend to believe Rondo when he tries to convince us that the situation is “not something I’m worried about.”
On Tuesday, speaking to Broussard, Rondo said: “It’s just not a big deal right now. Of course I’d like to get it done, but if it doesn’t happen, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. . . . I feel like if we win another title, obviously that helps my chances [of getting more money].’’