Danny Ainge said he would be "shocked" if Celtics' All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo (knee) is healthy enough to play by the team's Oct. 30 regular season opener and hinted that Rondo may not be ready until December.
When asked when Rondo, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament last season, might return to action, Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, said a timeline is unclear. Ainge hinted in a radio interview at a potential December return for Rondo.
"I don’t think we would ever succumb to the pressure of bringing back a player from an ACL too soon," Ainge said Tuesday before the Shamrock Foundation's sixth annual Teeing up For Kids Golf Tournament at Wollaston Golf Club.
"We’ve got to do what’s right for him. He’s young (27); maybe if he was 37 and it was his last year, but he’s still so young. And he’s our best player. We can’t afford to make any mistakes and judgment on when to bring him back."
Ainge said he and Celtics coach Brad Stevens have been in "constant contact" with Rondo as the team prepares to open up training camp next week in Newport, R.I. Rondo will be at training camp, watching and helping the younger players while also doing rehab.
"He seems to be in a really good place, emotionally, mentally," Ainge said, "and now we’re just trying to get the physical part done -- and he’s got a ways to go."
Rondo was diagnosed with a torn ACL Jan. 27 after suffering the injury a few days earlier in a double-overtime loss to Atlanta. He had knee surgery in mid-February, performed by Dr. James Andrews, and Rondo has spent the summer rehabbing.
"I’ve told (Rondo) from day one, 'Come back when you’re ready,'" Stevens said. "I think it’s really important that he feels good when he’s back and ready to play."
Stevens said he wasn't sure who would fill in for Rondo at the point guard position in the meantime, but the only name he mentioned was Avery Bradley, who played that position for much of last season after Rondo suffered his injury.
"I don’t know exactly how we’ll progress from here as far as that goes with regard to, if Rajon is in, who’s in what role, but I know Avery will be on the court," Stevens said.
"I think he’s a guy that, when you look at him on both ends of the floor, he’s a guy that I think we can fit in well offensively at the point guard spot. I think he’s really excited about playing it. And then defensively, he can be elite."