Rondo, Celtics go back to bargaining table

Contract talks between Rajon Rondo(notes) and the Boston Celtics were revived from the dead Tuesday.

Agent Bill Duffy said Celtics president Danny Ainge restarted talks by expressing a willingness to improve a possible offer to Rondo during a meeting at halftime of Boston's 95-89 win in Cleveland on Tuesday. On Monday, Duffy told Yahoo! Sports that Rondo would not sign a contract extension with the Celtics and would become a restricted free agent next summer. The deadline for a possible extension is Saturday.

"Our position was firm, but Danny Ainge reached out and said they were willing to move," Duffy told Yahoo! Sports in a phone interview. "Our mind was made up on this. But he said, 'Let's try to talk again, let us put some stuff together and talk [Wednesday].' "

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

Rondo declined comment on his contract situation prior to the Celtics' win at Cleveland on Tuesday. Ainge could not be reached for comment.

Duffy said Ainge reached out to him Tuesday morning via text message to see if they could talk at halftime of the Cleveland game. During the meeting, Duffy said Ainge spoke of an improved counterproposal from their previous contract talks.

"If the Celtics are willing to move, we'll entertain it," Duffy said.

Duffy has told Yahoo! Sports that Rondo merits a contract worthy of a top-five point guard. A source, however, said Rondo is seeking a five-year deal in the $55 million to $65 million range.

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.

While both sides are speaking again, Duffy cautions that it's not a given that a new pact will be made.

"It comes down to how much they're willing to move," Duffy said. "But Rajon is completely prepared to play his contract out [to become a restricted free agent]."

While the marquee players of the 2010 free agent class include LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes), Chris Bosh(notes) and possibly Dirk Nowitzki(notes) and Amar'e Stoudemire(notes), Rondo appears to easily be the top point guard available. While numerous teams have deep pockets next summer, the Celtics would have seven days to match any potential offer sheet that Rondo could sign due to his restricted status. While Rondo is just 23 years old now, the Celtics' four other marquee players are all in their 30s – Paul Pierce(notes) (32), Kevin Garnett(notes) (33), Ray Allen(notes) (34) and Rasheed Wallace(notes) (35).

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