Owner: Celtics want to keep Rondo

DEDHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics decision-makers, including owner Wyc Grousbeck, made clear again on Tuesday that they desire to keep Rajon Rondo with the team for the long-term future.

Grousbeck raised some eyebrows Sunday when he told a television station that Rondo is "super stubborn" and questioned how coachable the All-Star point guard is.

But Grousbeck stressed in that interview that he wanted Rondo, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, to be a part of the team's future. He echoed those remarks when team officials gathered Tuesday at Dedham Country Club for an end-of-the-offseason golf tournament to benefit the team's Shamrock Foundation.

"It's my goal to keep Rondo here," Grousbeck said. "I think we all want that. And I actually honestly think -- he should speak for himself -- I think Rajon wants to stay, or would be very happy to stay. And we'll see how this season goes, and how the negotiations go, but he's proud to be a Celtic. I know that. He's proud to wear that [2008 title] ring and he deserved it."

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was downright exasperated when asked yet again about Rondo's future in Boston.

"Are you seriously asking me that again? Yes, we expect Rajon to be in Boston for the long term," Ainge said. "Does that need to be asked any more by anybody ever again?"

During an appearance on Sunday, Ainge admitted that Rondo's impending free-agent status means the team can't unequivocally rule out trading him, but stressed again on Tuesday that the preferred plan is to keep him in green.

Ainge did acknowledge there's virtually nothing he can do to limit those trade whispers, despite reaffirming that Rondo's presence here could be vital to a quick and efficient rebuilding process.

"There's been a lot of people that have flat-out made stuff up and it's become hot topics," Ainge explained. "Very credible people have made things up, and that even makes it worse. So yes, I think there's probably a lot of people out there that have some sort of belief that there is some truth in the rumors that go on out there. But I can't say more emphatically, my hope is that we can have a long-term relationship [with Rondo]. Players like Rondo are hard to find. Here we are trying to make big deals, and it's hard to make big deals -- it's hard to get free agents -- without players with some cache. And Rondo is our best player, simply."

Later Ainge added: "I expect the best year of [Rondo's] career. He's worked really hard this summer and I think Rondo's going to have the best year of his life. That's what I expect."

Ainge was asked if Rondo might be more motivated to have the best year of his career because of his impending free agency and a chance to drive up his price tag.

"No, he's just a year removed from the [ACL] injury," said Ainge, referring to the injury that limited Rondo to 68 games over the past two seasons. "He's growing all the time. He's improving, he's maturing as a leader. He's just getting better. He's in the prime of his career right now. And I think what he went through last year was frustrating for him, and I think that drove him to have a good, hard-working summer. I don't think it's the contract [motivating him] at all. I think it's who he is. He wants to be good."

The trio of Grousbeck, Ainge and coach Brad Stevens raved about what they've seen from Rondo this offseason as he's been a staple of Boston's summer workouts.

Asked about Grousbeck's comments regarding Rondo's coachability, Stevens downplayed any concerns.

"I saw a report, but I didn't hear the context, so it's hard to know exactly what was said or exactly what context that was put in," said Stevens. "[Rondo has] been around, he works hard and he's a guy that I've really enjoyed coaching."

Ainge has preached patience as the Celtics navigate a transition process that saw the team win 25 games in Stevens' first season at the helm last year. Ainge was asked if Rondo has the patience to endure this rebuild.

"I think that's a question that we'll probably have to address at least halfway through the season, if not at the end of the season," Ainge admitted. "But right now Rondo has indicated to me that he wants to stay in Boston and he loves it here. He knows who his teammates are and he loves his teammates and he loves playing with Jeff [Green] and Avery [Bradley] and [Jared Sullinger]. I think he's spent a lot of time with Brad this summer and they've talked a lot about basketball. Brad has individually got on the court and they've worked really hard together. I think that mutual respect is growing by the day. I just think that he's in a really good place."