Rajon Rondo skipped his team’s trip to Sacramento late Friday night, preferring to stay in Los Angeles to celebrate his 28th birthday with friends and family instead.
Rondo hasn’t been playing on the second night of back-to-backs since returning from injury this season, and wasn’t scheduled to play Saturday night against the Kings. But he didn’t exactly clear his absence with the team, which created a bit of an internal firestorm.
A few days later, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens wouldn’t comment on whether or not Rondo would face discipline, leaving that to team president Danny Ainge to deal with. But he is treating it as though it’s nothing more than a minor infraction.
“We’ve sat down and talked. We did that Monday,” said Stevens. “In my mind, I’m moving forward. Then when [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] gets back in town, they can meet and go from there.” …
Stevens was asked if he thought Rondo should have accompanied the team to Sacramento.
“I think the biggest thing right now is for me to move forward and for us to move forward from that,” said Stevens. “Obviously, it’s something that is a great question to ask, something that I’ve certainly spent a lot of time thinking about. But at the end of the day, I’ve passed that point.”
This seems to be more of a miscommunication than anything else, which is why it’s understandable for Stevens to take a position that appears to be overly weak on the surface.
When Doc Rivers was running the show, veterans were routinely excused from coming to the arena on game days if they weren’t expected to play that night, for whatever reason. It’s not a great policy for a younger team or one led by a first-year head coach, but you can see how Rondo might feel he could get away with skipping a trip under these circumstances.
Stevens in his first NBA season is taking the right approach in letting Ainge deal with this admittedly minor infraction. He’ll preserve his relationship with the lone All-Star veteran on the roster, and can implement his own policies going forward without needlessly creating a rift with someone who will likely be his best player for the foreseeable future.