By ROBERT LEE
Journal Sports Writer
WALTHAM -- It only took three short seasons for Rajon Rondo to become one of the best point guards in the NBA, so the Celtics should try to do everything in their power to keep him.
But if the Celtics don't sign him by Oct. 31, Rondo will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
Both Celtics director of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, and Rondo said that they will resume contract talks at some point this preseason. In the mean time, neither one is worried about it.
"I try not to focus on it,'' Rondo said. "What's going to happen is going to happen. I'm trying to get a ring.
"I don't think it'll be on my mind. I won't allow it to affect me during the season. Of course, everyone wants security and it'd be great if I could sign now, but the focus is a ring. I'll let my agent (Bill Duffy) handle the contract stuff and I'll just play.''
"We had a good conversation last week to kind of kick things off, but I'm not going to address that at all," said Ainge. "We have until Oct. 31. Our intention is to have Rondo as our franchise point guard for a decade, and I think Rondo wants to be here for a long time as well."
The Celtics have Rondo at a bargain price of $2.6 million this season, but after nearly averaging a triple-double in the playoffs last year (16.9 points, 9.8 assists and 9.7 rebounds), is due for a big raise.
"Our intention is to have Rondo as our franchise point guard for a decade,'' Ainge said. "I think Rondo wants to be here for a long time as well. These things are just about dollar amounts. We may do something in October, or next summer we'll have the ability to do it. We'll just play it by ear.
"I think it's clear to everyone he's a player we feel can help must make the transition from where we are now and in the next couple of years to the future.''
So does Rondo want to be the Celtics point guard of the future?
"I want to be wherever I'm wanted for the next 10 years. If Danny wants me, I'll be here for the next 10 years.
"This may be the biggest contract I get, but I don't think about it like that. The more wins I get, the more chance I'll have to play long term. I've got a chance to get a couple of rings and take advantage of the team we have.''
Rondo said that he has been working on his all-around game this summer, including his jump shot, ball handling skills, and court awareness.
He added 11 pounds of muscle in the offseason and is ready to go.