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Rajon Rondo Wants to Stay on Boston Celtics, but Does Danny Ainge Care?

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COMMENTARY | The Celtics basketball universe has been abuzz over All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo's recent assurance that he desires to stay in Boston and presumably extend his contract for the foreseeable future.

"Why would I want out? This is a brand new start for us as a team," Rondo insisted to the Boston Herald's Mark Murphy in a recent interview. "I love it here, the fans are great here, Danny [Ainge] has been straight with me, so why would I want to leave?" he said.

Fair enough. Maybe Rondo doesn't want out of Boston, but does this even matter? The man who has "been straight" with Rondo, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, holds all the cards. Rondo isn't a free agent deciding between staying with the Celtics or leaving for a better city; he is an asset on a rebuilding team whose value for Boston probably cannot get any higher than it will be when he returns from his ACL injury.

The real question then has nothing to do with whether Rajon Rondo wants to remain on the Boston Celtics; it's all about whether Danny Ainge wants to rebuild around him or go in a completely different direction, as well as the degree to which Ainge is loyal to Rondo.

The answer to the first question is difficult to decipher. Ainge repeatedly insisted over the summer that he had no interest in trading Rondo. He even referred to Rondo in September as the "most difficult piece [of the team] to trade."

But if there is no fire behind all of this smoke, why have Celtics fans continued to hear about numerous trade rumors over the past three seasons? If Danny Ainge is just innocently listening to phone calls with no intention of moving his most prized possession, why is it that we don't hear about other similar rumors for stars across the NBA like Chris Paul?

Other organizations must have some reason for believing that Rondo is available, especially since Ainge has been so vocal in public about keeping Rondo around.

The second issue, Ainge's loyalty, is a much easier mystery to solve. Ainge doesn't have any. Love him or hate him as the leader in Boston's front office, it's clear that Ainge doesn't care about player loyalty. For those of you Ainge supporters who will argue otherwise, remember that future Celtics Hall of Famer Paul Pierce wanted to stay in Boston, admitting he was "hurt" by Ainge's decision to include him in trade rumors.

Kevin Garnett, who also reportedly had no desire to leave Boston and was contemplating retirement, only decided to leave after realizing he too was likely going to be traded and after having been convinced by Pierce.

It's clear then that Ainge, who wasn't loyal to Pierce or Garnett, won't keep Rondo around for the sake of loyalty. It's also apparent from the numerous trade rumors that the thought of trading Rondo has more than just passively crossed Ainge's mind. So although I think it's a good sign that Rondo is interested in staying, it will ultimately mean nothing when it comes down to making a decision about a potential trade.

Don't agree with me? Tell me why I am wrong on Twitter @THATCelticsGuy.

Justin Haskins is a New England native and a freelance journalist. He has been obsessively following Boston professional sports for 10 years and has been published in numerous online publications and websites.

Statistics provided by Basketball-reference.com and NBA.com.

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