BOSTON (CBS) – After nearly a year of rehab, the long-awaited return of Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is expected to come Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“He had a very good, strenuous workout yesterday as sort of a final test. Unless there are any setbacks today, we anticipate him playing tomorrow,” Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday.
Rondo was assigned to the NBA Development League briefly on Wednesday, allowing him to get a full practice in with the Maine Red Claws. Ainge called the practice beneficial for Rondo, and said the point guard took the Red Claws out to dinner prior to the Celtics game against the Toronto Raptors.
Ainge said Rondo organized the practice as his final tune-up before returning to the Celtics lineup.
“There have been ups and downs in his rehab, but he’s been making steady progress and he feels like it’s time,” said Ainge. “I think there will be an adjustment for him on the court, but he has to go through that at some point to get confidence back in his knee.”
Ainge said Rondo will be on a five-minute-per-quarter regiment as he eases his way back, but he expects the point guard to push himself knowing he has a limited amount of time on the floor.
Ainge isn’t worried about team chemistry, as Rondo played significant time with Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass last season (Boston’s expected starting five on Friday night). He’s also pleased with the amount of leadership Rondo has shown throughout his rehab, and expects that to grow now that the Celtics are Rondo’s team.
“Rondo each year has made progress in his maturity and leadership skills, and we hope he continues to grow as a leader. This perspective of going through rehab and sitting and watching, seeing the game from a coach’s perspective, only enhances that,” said Ainge. “Now to come back to be who he was before the surgery is going to take a little time and that’s going to be another growing opportunity.”
“He has a great place in his heart for people. He does a lot in the community and is good with our young players. He’s a guy that lifts people up after games, before games and tried to give encouragement to the younger players to stay focused. He’s growing year by year.”
Ainge also addresses Keith Bogans being excused from the team, and Wednesday’s three-team trade that sent Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Golden State Warriors: