source: Jackie MacMullan | ESPNBoston.com
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Doc Rivers spent an hour and a half with president of basketball operations Danny Ainge before Wednesday's win over Milwaukee, but the Boston Celtics' coach says they never discussed trading point guard Rajon Rondo.
"In all that time we did not talk once about any trades," Rivers said. "There was not one single thing about Rajon Rondo that crossed my desk."
Rivers said Thursday afternoon he is irked by reports the Celtics were aggressively shopping his mercurial point guard and frustrated that his relationship with Rondo is being cited as one of the reasons Boston is willing to part with him.
"My relationship with Rajon is as strong as it has ever been," he said. "Our communication has never been better. I want him here. I can say with almost 100 percent certainty he will be here with us when the season ends. I'm tired of this stuff. It's not fair."
Ainge called Rondo the team's "best player" and reaffirmed on Thursday during his weekly call to Boston sports radio WEEI that he's not actively trying to trade the 26-year-old.
"He's our best player, he's the most important part of our future," said Ainge. "There's no way we're actively trying to trade Rondo. That makes no sense, no logical sense."
Ainge went on to note that another team could always bowl over the Celtics with an offer to obtain Rondo's services and admitted he couldn't turn down one that made the Celtics better, but concluded, "I've made zero calls to try to trade him, and I won't."
As the March 15 trading deadline inches closer, Rondo's name will continue to be brought up. Boston did use Rondo as trade bait in an attempt to acquire point guard Chris Paul during the preseason, but the All-Star veteran ended up in Los Angeles with the Clippers instead.
Team and league sources said that while the Celtics were willing to part with Rondo if it yielded someone of Paul's caliber, they are not actively trying to unload him. Two general managers initially involved in the Rondo-Paul trade talks as a potential third party confirmed Thursday they have not received any calls in recent months from Boston regarding the point guard.
"I'm very confident that Rondo knows what I think of him, what I feel about him as a player and how important he is to our team," Ainge told WEEI. "I feel like Rondo is making incredible strides as a player, as a leader, as a teammate, and as a player in every way -- offense and defense."
Rondo's uneven demeanor has been a constant topic of discussion throughout his career, from his days at Kentucky when he butted heads with then-coach Tubby Smith to his time with Boston. Early in his career, Rivers actually hauled Rondo into his office and informed him: "Your own teammates can't stand you. You need to fix that."
According to his coach and his teammates, Rondo took that advice to heart and tried to be more communicative with and responsive to his fellow Celtics. He, along with his more decorated Big Three teammates, went on to win a title in 2008.
"Rondo is a moody guy," one Celtics official said, "but so what? Stand in line. There's a league full of NBA guys who are more high-maintenance than he is.
"He's a real competitor, wants to get better and he's a real gamer. Doc loves the fact that Rondo will fight through anything to be out on the court."
In fact, Celtics sources said, if there is any friction regarding Rondo, it well could be between him and his veteran teammates, who have publicly conceded that this is now Rondo's team, but still become occasionally irritated with his antics.
His outburst Feb. 19 when he threw the ball at referee Sean Wright and was given a two-game suspension was not well-received, nor was his anger over his initial All-Star snub. Rondo eventually was named to the team to replace the injured Joe Johnson.
The Celtics will continue to listen to offers for all of their players as the deadline approaches, with veteran Ray Allen continuing to draw the most interest.
Ainge has consistently said he will always listen to offers, but added Thursday, "That's a lot different from saying we're shopping a player. We aren't. We are not out there trying to trade Rajon Rondo."
Jackie MacMullan is a columnist and reporter for ESPNBoston.com. ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg contributed to this report.