League sources said the extension is for five years and guarantees Rondo at least $55 million. With the two sides facing a Monday deadline to get a deal done, Duffy said he called Celtics president Danny Ainge on Sunday to inform him Rondo was prepared to play out his contract and become a restricted free agent next summer because they weren’t satisfied with the team’s previous offers. Ainge, however, surprised Duffy by responding that Rondo’s contract hopes would be met.
“As much as we were willing to wait his contract out, the Celtics stepped up to the plate to meet the original request,” Duffy said by phone. “This is a really fair contract. We wanted him to be paid like one of the top five point guards around. It also allows the Celtics to maintain continuity to continue to be one of the best teams at this time.”
Rondo, 23, averaged 11.9 points, 8.2 assists and 5.2 rebounds for the Celtics last season, and had a terrific playoff run. He was drafted by the Phoenix Suns with the 21st pick in the 2006 draft before his rights were traded to Boston.
Had the Celtics not extended Rondo’s contract, he likely would have become the top point guard in a heralded free-agent class next summer that will include LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes). Because Rondo would have been a restricted free agent, the Celtics would have had the right to match any offer sheet he signed with another team.
With the Celtics’ four other marquee players all in their 30s – Paul Pierce(notes) (32), Kevin Garnett(notes) (33), Ray Allen(notes) (34) and Rasheed Wallace(notes) (35) – Rondo’s extension makes him an important piece of the franchise’s future.
Rondo’s new deal averages $11 million a season, the same amount San Antonio Spurs All-Star point guard Tony Parker(notes) earned when he signed a six-year, $66 million extension to his rookie contract in 2004. Among members of Rondo’s 2006 rookie class, Portland Trail Blazers All-Star guard Brandon Roy(notes) received a five-year, $80 million contract extension. The Blazers also gave forward LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) a five-year, $65 million extension.
“This is unbelievable for a kid that was taken far down in the draft,” Duffy said of Rondo, who was picked 21st overall in the 2006 draft. “But we’ve said that it’s not where you’re drafted, but where you are selected. He ended up being in the perfect situation.”
The Celtics expressed disappointment in Rondo’s maturity over the summer, and even raised his name in trade talks. Since training camp, however, team officials have said nothing but positive things about Rondo’s progress.
“The relationship between Rajon and the Celtics is on the highest level on and off the court,” Duffy said. “It’s a strong bond right now. Any concerns they had relative to this approach are no longer.”
- Bill Duffy