In his weekly interview with WEEI's The Big Show, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge discussed the surprising start to Greg Stiemsma's career, the maturation process of Rajon Rondo and a possible debut date for Mickael Pietrus.
Stiemsma, a 26-year-old former Defensive Player of the Year in the D-League for Sioux Falls Skyforce, has emerged as a legitimate NBA center early in his career. Ainge was asked about Stiemsma's performance.
"He's played very well from the first day of training camp," said Ainge of Stiemsma, who is averaging 4.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in his first five NBA games. "He's been a positive influence on our team, our coaches have really liked him, he earned their respect right away. He's been good."
Ainge was asked if he was ever concerned that Rondo would be at all affected by the rumors that had the point guard potentially being swapped for Chris Paul.
"I sat down with Rondo when he got back into town, when the lockout ended, and I just told him the truth of what was going on. And that was it," Ainge said. "I've had conversations since, told him exactly what was happening. … I was not trying to trade Rajon Rondo. There's a big difference between trying to acquire a player and trying to trade a player. Rondo knows what I was trying to do, and he knows I wasn't shopping him around and trying to trade him, as has been reported. There's a big difference."
As for Rondo's early-season performance (15.3 points per game, league-best 10.7 assists per game), Ainge credits the point guard's work ethic during the lockout.
"I think that that he was very motivated, we had received reports all summer how hard he was working this offseason," said Ainge. "He showed up in great shape and he came out of the gates playing fantastic basketball for us, and he had a great training camp and he has the right mindset when he goes out on the court."
Ainge also told Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley that Mickael Pietrus (knee surgery) could debut for the Celtics next Wednesday vs. the Mavericks at the Garden.