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Friday, February 28, 2014
Ainge and Rondo talk, then move on

By Chris Forsberg

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and team captain Rajon Rondo engaged in a lengthy phone conversation Thursday aimed at clearing the air about Rondo's decision to not accompany the team on a trip to Sacramento last weekend.

Rondo, not scheduled to play on the second night of a back-to-back, elected to stay behind in Los Angeles and celebrate his 28th birthday on Saturday while his teammates lost to the Kings. Rondo rejoined the team in Utah before Monday's finale of a four-game road trip, but his decision raised eyebrows and sparked a firestorm of opinion back in Boston.

"I think it was important to talk because I just wanted to hear from Rondo," said Ainge, who had hoped to meet with Rondo in person, but departed on a scouting trip before the team returned from the coast. "I wanted to hear what he was thinking."

Ainge said he never thought the story was as big as it became in the aftermath, adding the conversation was important to learn from the experience.

"I'm completely satisfied," Ainge said. "I learned some things and I think he learned from this experience. We're moving on."

First-year coach Brad Stevens was tight-lipped earlier this week, but admitted that he had wrestled with whether Rondo made the right decision to stay in L.A. Stevens said he was moving forward after meeting with him on Monday in Utah. Ainge likewise wouldn't assign blame -- or reveal if any fine was levied against Rondo -- but stressed that the incident took nothing away from Rondo's ability to lead the Celtics.

"I've been around a lot of leaders and leaders make a lot of mistakes," Ainge said. "Mistakes don't disqualify you from being a leader."

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