|Photo: Charles Krupa (Associated Press)
Ainge says the possibility of losing Rondo to free agency, and not being able to add impact players is what led to his decision.
He addressed reporters at TD Garden last night before the Celtics played against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"There was definitely uncertainty into what might happen [with Rondo as a free agent] this summer," Ainge said. "That was a big factor. We liked the players that we got in the trade. But, listen, with the impending free agency, and the uncertainty of what might happen this summer, I think that gave us the impetus of wanting to do a deal."The two shared conversations in the past over teams that were interested in trading for Rondo, but when Ainge set up a meeting with Rondo Thursday night, it wasn't about the possibility of a deal, it was to say thank you, and good luck. Last night Ainge told reporters who Rondo is as a person and why making this trade wasn't easy for him.
"The guy is a very unique person," Ainge said. "But watching him grow and watching him develop as a man and as a person and as a basketball player, I just enjoyed my interactions with him. It was an emotional time as we met last night. It was not an easy thing to do. But I believe it was the right thing to do."
Ainge says him and Rondo developed a special relationship over the past eight years and continued to talk about their relationship.
"It was hard. Yeah, it was very difficult to move Rajon," Ainge said. "I know it's a business in professional sports, but you really develop a lot of close relationships and I loved watching Rajon, I loved visiting him, our one-on-one conversations were fun, entertaining, frustrating sometimes. And always a surprise"
Photo: Josh Reynolds (Associated Press)
Rondo is going to one of the best teams in the Western Conference. He gets to plays alongside future Hall-of-Famer Dirk Nowitzki and will be surrounded by other good offensive weapons in what might be, now that Rondo is added, the best starting lineup in the league. Ainge acknowledged how the Dallas Mavericks is a good situation for Rondo.
"I'm rooting for him," Ainge said. "I think that, like Paul [Pierce] and Kevin [Garnett], when they were traded they were going to what everybody thought was a really special opportunity. I don't think, through any fault of their own, it turned out like they hoped. But I think they were enthusiastic and excited.
"And I think Rajon hasn't gotten to that point yet, but I think he should be excited, I think he should be enthusiastic about the opportunity that he's going to. It makes me feel a little better -- we have to do what's best for the Celtics, but it is, at the same time, a great opportunity for him and I think he appreciates that he's getting a chance to go to a terrific opportunity."Celtics coach Brad Stevens was also there when Ainge spoke to Rondo Thursday night. When asked what he said to Rondo, Stevens replied:
"It was just, 'Hey, Rajon, thanks for everything you've done. You've left a great legacy," Stevens said. "To be some place 8 and a half years, to have that kind of outpouring of emotion that you're going to have in leaving, it says what you did. I wish him nothing but the best. I think he's going into a great situation, a great coach, great players, and I'm sorry we have to play one more time -- because certainly I don't want to play against them. But it was more just that, and, 'Thanks.'"Rondo will play at TD Garden one last time this season on Jan. 2, as a member of the Dallas Mavericks.