Celtics’ Danny Ainge: Rajon Rondo ‘very motivated to prove he’s a max guy’

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Rajon Rondo was traded to the Mavericks a couple of weeks ago, and already has a return to Boston on deck this weekend when Dallas will face the Celtics on Friday.

Rondo admitted it will be an emotional evening for him, but Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge seems to have already moved on from the deal, while being ready to offer his assessment of exactly what the Mavericks may have received.

Ainge believes that Dallas will be getting a highly-motivated version of Rondo for the remainder of the season, thanks to the fact that his contract is up at the end of the year, when he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.

From Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston:

Be prepared to witness a rejuvenated Rondo who will assail his former team with increased intensity and energy. He’s playing for a contender, a contract, and in some respects, his reputation.

“This second half of the year is a very big one for Rajon,” Ainge agreed. “Dallas is getting a player who is very motivated to prove he’s a max guy.”

Ainge is simply stating his beliefs, after being close to Rondo for the past eight-plus seasons. But he’s also exposing a bit of a harsh reality for the Mavericks while doing so.

Despite the fact that Boston was reportedly pleased with what it got in exchange for Rondo, it wasn’t much to give up on the Dallas side for a player with that kind of resum√©. The Mavericks wouldn’t have made the deal without assurances that Rondo would at least be open to re-signing with the team if the money offered was competitive, and they’ll undoubtedly have the right of first refusal.

But if Ainge is correct, Rondo may do everything he can to earn that next contract with the way he plays for the remainder of the season. While that could be beneficial for the Mavs and their chances this year, it could put them in a tough place this offseason if they’re not prepared to sign Rondo to the max contract he may be seeking.