From the moment Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge made the decision to dip into the college ranks and hire Brad Stevens as head coach, most people assumed that Rajon Rondo would become difficult for the first-time NBA head coach to handle. Stevens made a special trip on Thursday to Rondo's basketball camp in Louisville to break the ice, and after a two-hour meeting with his point guard, Stevens felt pretty good about the situation. In fact, he called Rondo a "neat person" during an on-camera interview with WDRB Fox 41 in Louisville, and made it a point to play up positives from the exchange: (via ESPN Boston)
"[Meeting Rondo] was great. What an insightful, intelligent, neat person to sit down with. I've got a chance to meet a lot of his teammates because we were down at the summer league and some guys would come by, so it's been great to meet him and the other teammates. I think it's been a really good situation thus far. It's been a little bit of a whirlwind for me."
...asked at Rondo's camp if he desired to have Rondo playing for him next season, Stevens added, "No question. Yeah, absolutely. And he is obviously one of the best point guards in the league and has been one of the best performers over the last ... seven years. He's had a terrific young career and I can't wait to get working with him."
Rondo is a Connect Four savant who manages multiple games at once and is willing to take on all challengers, so I'd say he can easily qualify as a "neat person." No problem there. As for the more serious stuff, the amplification of Rondo's attitude issues in the wake of Doc Rivers' departure and the deals to send out Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce has led to a somewhat distorted image of the young point guard.
SB Nation's Paul Flannery recently wrote an excellent piece that explains why Rondo is capable of becoming a valuable co-pilot to the sabermetrically-savvy Stevens next season:
Rondo is not a follower, which the previous era demanded. He's intelligent, quirky, competitive as hell and yes, difficult in the way that most intelligent people are difficult for the rest of the world to deal with on a regular basis. If this situation doesn't appeal to him, then there's a real question of what, exactly, would satisfy his professional needs.
This is a brand new day for the franchise with fresh ideas and input from young, talented people. The opportunity is there for Rondo to "get on the bus" -- to use one of Stevens' pet phrases -- and establish his own legacy as the leader of this new generation.
Stevens is trying hard to make a good first impression on his point guard, and in the early stages of the relationship everything seems to be going well.