BOSTON (CBS) – It’s coming. Rajon Rondo will soon make his return to the floor for the Boston Celtics.

He’s practicing 5-on-0, playing in no-contact 1-on-1 games, and has even ditched the knee brace.

Brad Stevens has said he’s had his team run their system as if Rondo was in, so the rookie head coach is expecting a smooth transition when the All Star point guard does return — likely in the next month or so.

So when Rondo comes back , will that make the Celtics “too good” from a ping-pong perspective. That was the topic of discussion on Tuesday night’s “Celtics At 7” on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The Adam Jones Show.

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Despite Rondo coming back to basically a whole new roster, Rich Keefe doesn’t think it will take long for Rondo to mesh with the new cast of characters, and with the Eastern Conference as bad as it is, that should make Boston a playoff team.

“I think there’s going to be a slow maturation process with Rondo and the rest of these guys, but after say a week, they’re going to better than they are right now. Even though they’re 6-10, they play in the Eastern Conference and are a half game out of the playoffs,” said Keefe. “I want a lottery pick as much as the next guy, but you have to figure if Rondo returns and the team stays relatively healthy — [Jared] Sullinger plays in most games and [Kelly] Olynyk comes back — they can probably be a playoff team.”

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“Charlotte could be hosting a first-round playoff series. That’s what we’re talking about right now!” Keefe added.

“I would say a month after Rondo gets back, they’ll make a trade,” said Jones “When I say a trade, it’s not going to be roster fodder. It’s going to be they figure a way to get [Gerald] Wallace off the team or Jeff Green. Someone significant.”

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“Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, Wallace, Green, a player like that is going to get moved a month or six weeks after Rondo comes back, because they’re going to want to deal off some spare parts if they want to be in the lottery,” said Jones.

“The big question is going to be Rondo,” said Keefe. “If you trade Wallace or Humphries and don’t get anything of significance in return, no one is going to kill you. If you trade Rondo and get a bag of crap in return that’s one that will stick with you. You can’t just trade Rondo to make sure you get into the lottery and get nothing in return.”

“It’s a delicate balance. You have to cash in; that’s the best lottery chip you have,” Jones said of Rondo. “You can’t sell low on Rondo. The delicate balance is when can you get the most for him? It’s probably at the draft, maybe at the trade deadline. At the draft it’s the off-season and you can implement him into a new system at that point. The problem is if Rondo is playing for you from mid-December to the end of the year, are you too good where you’re a lottery team? That’s the delicate balance.”

“But I would rather make the playoffs than sell low on Rondo. I wouldn’t just give away Rondo to ensure you miss the postseason. That would be detrimental,” said Jones. “You can always trade him and cash in; even if you made the postseason you can get yourself a lottery pick. You can’t just give him away.”


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