WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics have no intentions of trading point guard Rajon Rondo, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday, adding he wasn't sure where the rumors insinuating he wanted to acquire New Orleans star Chris Paul originated this week.
After noting that he wanted to keep his core together -- and later identifying that core as the team's four All-Stars (Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett) -- Ainge was asked point-blank if he was planning to trade Rondo.
"I'm not, no," Ainge said during a news conference with coach Doc Rivers to discuss the team's post-lockout agenda.
"I'll talk to Rondo," he added. "But I won't tell you what I'll say to him. Rondo will be fine, Rondo knows that we love him. He knows that we like him. He's excited to come back and play basketball, in my opinion. He gets a lot of attention. He's a great player. There's a lot of people that call me and ask me about Rondo. So, how these rumors get out, it's unfortunate, but we didn't leak those rumors out."
Earlier this week, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard that the Celtics were eying a Rondo-for-Paul swap. Other reports indicated the Celtics might be shopping the point guard to other teams, with the goal of obtaining the necessary pieces to facilitate a swap with New Orleans for Paul.
On Wednesday, sources told Broussard that Paul wouldn't sign a long-term extension with Boston, throwing cold water on any potential deal.
Ainge said the lockout has exacerbated matters because he hasn't been able to correspond directly with Rondo.
"Usually, I'm around [the players] when these [trade rumors] happen," Ainge said. "This is a unique situation in that it's happened now. I will talk to the players and share with them the truth about rumors and everything else. I don't like to discuss them with the media -- the truth or validity of rumors. But I do discuss them with players."
Some will wonder if it's simply spin control, but Ainge went so far as to suggest Rondo's name being mentioned in such a deal is quite the compliment for the 25-year-old.
"Trade rumors are part of the world we live in," Ainge said. "It's a media circus out there and everybody's name has been in trade rumors. And everybody's name will be. If you're worth your salt, you'll be mentioned in a trade somewhere along the line. That's just a part of the business that players have to learn to deal with as well.
"We love our players and I think our players know that. They know that we really like them. There may be sensitive feelings here and there, but I think those will be addressed. I'm not worried about that at all."
Echoed Rivers: "The veterans, obviously, are used to it. The younger guys will get used to it. Danny's right -- if you're a good player, it's very likely at some point that you're going to be mentioned in a rumor. That doesn't mean any of them are true."
Asked specifically about Rondo, Rivers offered high praise.
"I'm not going to compare him to the other guys, but I think he's one of the top point guards in the NBA," he said. "I think Rondo has established that. There's a reason that, whenever this thing leaked out, that it was all over the news. It's because the players they are talking about are both really good. That's why. Rondo has established that through his play. Listen, he's a great basketball player and he does so many things for our team. He should be flattered in a lot of ways that this is news."
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.