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Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Rondo on rumors: 'Year 8 for me'

By Chris Forsberg

PHOENIX -- Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo knows his birthday is approaching whenever the trade whispers pick up.

Rondo, who turns 28 on Friday, tried on Tuesday to shift the focus to that date rather than belabor the NBA trade deadline that falls the day before.

Rondo knows his name is in the trade whispers again. With each passing hour, a new rumor seems to crop up with teams such as Sacramento, Toronto and New York reportedly interested in him. And yet he's been down this road before and doesn't pay it much mind.

"This is Year 8 for me [in the NBA]," Rondo said. "And I think this is Year 8 for me being in trade rumors, especially around this time."

Asked if he's able to block out the noise, Rondo joked that it's impossible when reporters ask him about it every chance they get this time of year. Does Rondo pay attention to the chatter when the media isn't relaying him the latest?

"No, I’m enjoying life," Rondo said. "Just enjoying life, and have a lot to be thankful for. [Trade ruomrs are] part of [life in the NBA]."

Rondo acknowledged that Monday's blast of trade rumors that focused on his future were maybe the most deadline chatter he's endured in his career, and it's unlikely to slow down in advance of Thursday's 3 p.m. deadline. While the Celtics appear to have set a prohibitive price tag to simply start a conversation about his services, Rondo is at peace with whatever lies ahead.

"Like I said, this is pretty much the same thing I go through every year," he said. "I think this is the most, I guess, trade talk maybe, as far as seriousness for me, but, like I said, I still live my life every day and do what I do. Whatever happens, I’ll be able to adjust and adapt to it."

With Boston enduring a rebuilding season and Rondo coming back from ACL surgery, it's fair to wonder if opposing teams are expecting some sort of cut-rate price on Rondo. It's prudent to remember that the only serious discussions that the Celtics have had about trading Rondo would have seen Chris Paul -- an MVP-caliber player -- come back in return coming out of the lockout in 2011.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge seems open to listening to clubs that have young talent to part with or lottery-bound teams willing to give up unprotected picks, but that doesn't mean talks will get much beyond the floor level.

First-year Celtics coach Brad Stevens downplayed the trade chatter.

"I think the trading deadline is going to be full of rumors and part of it is, because there’s a deadline on Thursday, more are going to be created," he said. Later he added, "From everything that I know ... what you read is a lot more than what’s actually happening."

With 10 games under his belt after returning from a yearlong absence, Rondo said his focus is on further shaking rust and getting back to the level he's accustomed to playing at. He admits that Boston's team struggles make things a bit different at this trade deadline, as in the past the Celtics often would be looking to add parts for a stretch run. But that hasn't sapped his competitiveness.

"It feels different, but I still love to compete," Rondo said. "I still continue to try to win every game, that’s how I play, that’s the goal when I step out there on the floor."

Asked if he's heard the idea that it takes anywhere from a year to 18 months to fully rehab from an ACL tear, Rondo said, "It may take a year, it may take 18 months; hopefully it doesn’t take 36. I’m feeling more and more comfortable as time goes on. There’s still general soreness. I don’t think I’ve played even 10 games yet. I still feel good. I’m just glad to be back out on the court, playing basketball."

And, until he's told otherwise, he'll keep playing basketball for the Celtics.