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Rondo to join 2010 free-agent class

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo Sports

Rajon Rondo(notes) will not sign a contract extension with the Boston Celtics, allowing him to join next summer’s heralded free-agent class, the player’s agent told Yahoo! Sports late Monday.

Rondo and the Celtics have until Saturday to negotiate an extension, but his agent, Bill Duffy, said the point guard has already made a decision to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Duffy said he has had recent talks with the Celtics about Rondo, but the negotiations never progressed enough to lead him to believe the sides were close to a deal. Celtics president Danny Ainge couldn’t be reached for comment.

“We’re not going to do an extension right now,” Duffy said. “The conversation has been cordial. We’ve been talking the last couple of weeks. There is a difference between the perception of him in their eyes and our eyes. With that being said, the focus is on Rajon to have a fantastic season and concentrate on winning a championship.”

Duffy, who also counts Steve Nash(notes) among his clients, said he is seeking a contract that would pay Rondo like one of the NBA’s top five point guards.

The Celtics, Duffy said, “feel differently.”

Rondo, 23, is making $2.1 million in the final season of his rookie contract. 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. Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) also received a five-year extension that will pay him at least $65 million.

Rondo averaged 11.9 points. 8.2 assists and 5.2 rebounds for the Celtics last season. He had a breakthrough performance in the playoffs, nearly averaging a triple-double of 16.9 points, 9.8 assists and 9.7 rebounds in 14 games.

While LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes), Chris Bosh(notes) – and possibly Dirk Nowitzki(notes) and Amar'e Stoudemire (notes) – will headline the 2010 free-agent class, Rondo would be the best point guard available. Because he will be a restricted free agent, the Celtics will have seven days to match any offer sheet he receives from another team.

Celtics guard Ray Allen(notes) also will be a free agent at the end of the season and Paul Pierce(notes) could join them as well, should he opt out of the final year of his contract.

Rondo frustrated the Celtics at times last season with maturity issues and his name surfaced in trade talks over the summer. Duffy, however, said Rondo is completely on the “same page” with the Celtics now and that the summer problems had no bearing on Rondo’s decision to become a free agent.

“Danny knows Rajon is taking care of business on and off the court,” Duffy said. “Danny Ainge has stated happiness with Rondo’s work ethic and leadership at this point.”