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July 2, 2013

Celtics' Ainge says he's not trying to trade Rondo

BOSTON — Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge understands why other teams keep calling to see if he will trade Rajon Rondo.

The Celtics traded away coach Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers for a first-round draft pick. And a deal to send the team’s biggest stars, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, to the Brooklyn Nets for a package including three more No. 1 picks is just waiting for the NBA signing period to begin.

“Maybe the assumption is that we’ll give away any of our players,” Ainge said on Monday, listing not just Rondo but Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger and first-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk as players who have attracted interest. “There’s been calls for all those guys. And maybe the assumption is we are just changing everybody, but we’re not.

“We’re starting to get younger.”

Speaking at the news conference to introduce Olynyk and second-round pick Colton Iverson, Ainge said he was not interested in stripping the Celtics down as much as building with younger players and draft choices. A key part of that is Rondo, he said.

But other GMs don’t seem to believe him.

So, the calls continue.

“The calls are coming in,” Ainge said, “the calls have not been going out.”

Ainge said he was in no rush to hire a coach, and he repeated — definitively — that he would not take the job himself. But asked for a similar pronouncement to put the end to Rondo trade talks, Ainge said, “I always listen to calls and listen to what ideas are, but we have no intentions of moving Rajon.”

NBA free agency began on Monday, and it was a quiet day for the Celtics, who aren’t likely to be active in the open market. While other teams were showing up on the doorstep of free agents at 12:01 a.m., Ainge said the Celtics don’t have the cap room to add a free agent this summer — or the interest.

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