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Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Danny Ainge: No Rajon Rondo trade

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Danny Ainge didn't leave himself any wiggle room Monday night when the topic of persistent trade rumors involving Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo arose.

"Rondo's not being traded," Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told CSNNE.com before the Celtics played the Clippers in Los Angeles. "I don't know how many times I have to say it. Rondo's not being traded."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers met with Ainge for 90 minutes last week, but Rivers said they never discussed a trade involving Rondo. And Rivers said at the time that he was irked by reports that the Celtics were shopping Rondo -- and frustrated that his relationship with Rondo is being cited as one of the reasons Boston is supposedly willing to part with him.

"My relationship with Rajon is as strong as it has ever been," Rivers said last week. "Our communication has never been better. I want him here. I can say with almost 100 percent certainty he will be here with us when the season ends. I'm tired of this stuff. It's not fair."

Ainge said last week during his weekly segment on Boston sports radio WEEI. "He's our best player, he's the most important part of our future. There's no way we're actively trying to trade Rondo. That makes no sense, no logical sense."

The NBA's trade deadline is Thursday.

On Monday night, Rondo faced Clippers point guard Chris Paul, with whom he was linked in trade talks following the lockout. Rivers made a point of praising Rondo for his defense after the Celtics' 94-85 win.

"I thought Rondo -- I don't even know what he did offensively -- I just thought, defensively, he was sensational," Rivers said. "He was absolutely wonderful. He had this one stretch where he switched a couple times (in pick-and-roll coverage) and we called a timeout and said, 'Oh, no no. We're not switching you off of Chris Paul, ever.' "

If the Celtics do make a move before the trade deadline, it's likely to be for a big man, Ainge said Monday, as the prognoses for centers Jermaine O'Neal (left wrist) and Chris Wilcox (cardiac issue) remain uncertain.

That addition, if needed, might not come from through a trade, he added.

"I don't feel like we have to do anything, other than we eventually have to get another big body," Ainge said. "But I don't think you have to make a trade at all."

If the Celtics can't find a deal that brings back a proven big man without sacrificing future financial flexibility, the team could examine other options to clear roster space, including releasing or buying out a player on its currently maxed-out 15-man roster.

Ainge said that if rookie center Greg Stiemsma, who is playing through a right foot ailment, continues to show he can be a serviceable backup center, it also takes some of the urgency off finding a big man.

As for the potential for trade activity, Ainge suggested nothing is imminent -- big or small -- with the Celtics.

"There's nothing going on right now, but we'll see," he said. "There's always a lot of calls. That's no different than usual -- you get calls a lot. That doesn't always translate into any results."

ESPNBoston.com Celtics writer Chris Forsberg contributed to this report.