BOSTON – It's been a decade since Rajon Rondo and Josh Smith have been teammate, but that's something Smith still dreams about recreating to this day. Speaking before his Detroit Pistons take on Rondo's Boston Celtics, Smith discussed the pipedream of a reunion.
"We always tell each other how surreal a moment that would be to reconnect in that realm but with the different free agencies that we both have, it could be far-fetched. But it could be possible too."
Long time friends -- which came to light especially when Rondo yelled at a TNT cameraman for filming the two families together after a playoff game in May 2012 -- Smith and Rondo remain tight despite not playing together for over a decade.
"He's my best friend, especially in the NBA," Smith said. "We definitely connect. We take family vacations together." Those vacations also included Kevin Garnett, who has been one of Rondo's most publicly recognized mentors since coming into the league.
Going back to their days together at the famed Oak Hill Academy, Smith provided insights on what has become the latest topic du jour, warranted or not, in Boston: Rondo's leadership.
"I think being a veteran on the team, teaching these guys verbally and showing them how to do it," Smith said. "He's a player with a very high basketball IQ and he's doing his due diligence on how to win and how to do it the right way."
But just playing itself has been a developing factor this season, as Rondo continues to sit out the second leg of back-to-backs. But that could be changing soon...sort of.
"I talked to [Rondo] yesterday for a minute about that," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Sunday. "We'll talk to him and [Celtics trainer] Ed [Lacerte] later tonight or tomorrow and see what it looks like. My guess is probably that he will not play on the second of a back-to-back [Wednesday]."
While the decision has been guided by the team's training staff in conjunction with Rondo, Stevens is relying on Rondo to make the call himself this far into his return.
"It's really more how he feels the day after a game," Stevens said. "So yesterday, I asked him, ‘Are you sore? Are you tired? How do you feel?' He's still a little bit sore a day after games.
"Obviously, when we have these 48 hours instead of 24 hours, he can recover and just another day to get his body right. So that's at least the thought but it will be more his call than anybody else's.
"He knows his body better than any of us."
One possibility is to sit Rondo on the first leg of the back-to-back if the second leg is against a priority opponent. But Stevens isn't buying into that.
"I haven't even thought about that kind of thing. To be honest, I've always thought that you play the first one and then if you can't play the second. But I haven't even thought about that to be honest."
BABB BACK IN BOSTON?
Chris Babb's 10-day contract expires after 11:59 Sunday evening and despite losing an hour on his contract due to daylight savings time, he has already done enough to earn Stevens' vote of confidence.
"We'll see how tonight goes from that standpoint," Stevens said when asked if Babb will get a second deal. "His 10 days are up at midnight tonight. Like I said, I think it was yesterday, I would really like to have him around and we'll see how tonight goes. All indications are that everybody feels that way in our organization."
Stevens heaped plenty of praise on Babb after Wednesday's win over the Nets, telling CLNS Radio he is hoping for a return from the rookie shooting guard.
"The best compliment I can give him, and I think I said this about Chris Johnson: I hope like heck he's back with us Monday."
Babb, who shot 2-for-4 from deep against Brooklyn Friday and grabbed five rebounds against the Warriors Wednesday, has shown the same type of hustle and perimeter effectiveness that earned Johnson a four-year non-guaranteed deal earlier this year.
He'll get his last chance Sunday against the Pistons, but it doesn't look like that will be too necessary.