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Rajon Rondo loves Jrue Holiday trade, discusses future plans in surprise visit to Celtics practice

Rajon Rondo got an unusually timed phone call recently. It was around 3 a.m. His former teammate Paul Pierce was on the other line.

“He was like, ‘They want us back.’ I’m like, ‘Hello?’” Rondo said.

Pierce was talking about the Celtics, and specifically coach Joe Mazzulla, who sent out an email to all the franchise’s alumni with an open invitation to practice. Pierce and several others have already returned. Rondo got the email, and with a little nudging from Pierce, he took up the opportunity with a surprise visit to Friday’s practice at the Auerbach Center.

“You do that in a lot of college programs where alumni come back,” Rondo said. “As a pro, you don’t do it as much because guys get traded to so many different teams and it’s the NBA. So to get that email was very welcoming and humbling at the same time.”

Rondo, who played the first nine seasons of his career with the Celtics before being traded in 2015, was excited to check out the Auerbach Center for the first time. He used Friday as an opportunity to talk basketball, catch up with old friends and briefly stop by with the media to share his thoughts on these Celtics.

Rondo, like many, is very impressed with the championship favorites and was a big fan of their trade for Jrue Holiday, who he played with during his one season with the New Orleans Pelicans.

“I love the Jrue Holiday pickup,” Rondo said. “He’s one of my favorite teammates I’ve ever played with all-time and I’m excited for you guys to see what he can bring night in, night out. …

“Just his mentality, his mindset, his professional approach to the game, and just what he brings out there on the court. He does a lot of intangibles, he’s a very unselfish guy, and he’s fun to be around. But he’s a winner. He’s a competitor.”

Rondo had not been around this Celtics team long enough to compare them to the 2008 championship team, but there is another former teammate of his who’s now on the coaching staff in Sam Cassell who he thinks will be a huge benefit as they chase a title this season.

“A lot. He helped me the year we won the championship in 2008,” Rondo said. “He was a very vocal veteran for me on the team, a guy that I always still call to this day for advice. So the guys having him around is going to be big for them.”

The 37-year-old Rondo has not played in an NBA game since 2022 when he was with the Cavaliers, and while he did not admit if he was officially retired, he’s clearly transitioning into the next chapter of his life. Rondo said he’s back in school at the University of Kentucky – where he played two seasons – to pursue a degree in communications.

Rondo also said coaching is in his future, and used Friday’s visit as a chance to pick the brains of Mazzulla and the rest of his staff.

“I love teaching the game,” Rondo said. “Right now I have a young AAU program with my son’s team. I coach at that level and want to dedicate my time with him and try to get him off to the right start. My daughter is in volleyball. I’m not an expert coach in that but I do study that game as well and try to put her in the right positions to get a scholarship. So, coaching is in the future. I wanted to come here this week and learn from Joe and pick up as much knowledge as I can from him and the rest of the staff and just kind of learn.”

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