By ROBERT LEE
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- The NBA announced Thursday night that it has pushed back the deadline for contract extensions for all players from the 2006 draft class from Saturday to Monday, meaning that the Celtics will now have until Monday to extend Rajon Rondo's contract or he will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
The previous deadline was on Saturday, but the NBA decided to push it back to the next business day.
The Celtics initially offered Rondo a five-year deal worth a reported $45 million, but Rondo and his agent Bill Duffy believe he should be paid as one of the top five point guards in the league and they are seeking a five-year deal reportedly worth between $55 and $60.
The Celtics don't want to pay him that much if they don't have to. But if they do not give in to his demands, they could end up paying him a lot more if he is offered more than that in free agency next summer and if they want to keep him.
"It's a difficult situation because is he risking a bigger contract for next year [if he decides to sign]? Are we risking paying him more than having to match a contract next year? Ultimately he wants to be here," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said on WEEI on Wednesday. "We want him here so it's kind of trying to figure out the future and what sort of money is out there. There is a lot of money out there in the free agent market next year. There are a lot of teams with cap space.
"There are a lot of teams that like Rondo as I found out this year with all of the draft rumors...Potentially he could make more money than he's even asking. Potentially he could make less. It's all about finances and trying to predict the future."
Of the 30 first-round picks from 2006 that are eligible for new contracts, only four -- Toronto's Andrea Bargnani (the top overall pick in 2006), Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge (second overall) and Brandon Roy (sixth), and Oklahoma City's Thabo Sefolosha (13th) -- have been signed by their current teams, with high-profile picks like Chicago's Tyrus Thomas (second overall), Washington guard Randy Foye (seventh), Memphis forward Rudy Gay (eighth) and Utah guard Ronnie Brewer (14th) unable to make much headway toward a deal.