Ainge: Rondo still 'not close' to return

Rajon Rondo continues to make progress in his ACL rehab, Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday, but the All-Star point guard is "not close" and still needs to build strength in his right knee before he gets clearance to return to practice.

Making his weekly appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub, a Boston radio station, Ainge detailed how Rondo is playing in competitive 2-on-2 situations, but still has a slight limp, suggesting that the surgically repaired knee is not healthy enough yet to take the next step in his rehab.

"I don’t think he’s close," said Ainge. "Meaning, I don’t think [his return is] going to happen the next few weeks. We’re not on pins and needles about it. We’re being very cautious with Rondo. I think he’s still got a little bit of a limp; his strength is not quite there, but he is making progress. We’re not close."

Ainge said Rondo played 2-on-2 with teammates Phil Pressey, Courtney Lee and MarShon Brooks during Boston's off day Wednesday. Ainge said Rondo got upset when his team lost those 2-on-2 games and is clearly eager to get back on the floor with the Celtics.

"He’s just not himself yet, but he’s getting there and he’s pushing himself to get there. Listen, we’re going to be very cautious with him and make sure he’s right before he comes back. There’s just a little bit of a limp still. He’s gotta get that strength back in the knee up to 100 percent before they’ll let him back out on the court."

Rondo is planning to meet with his operating surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, in Florida this month to gauge where the guard is in his recovery. Ainge told the Boston Globe on Wednesday that the meeting would likely occur in the next 10-14 days. It seems Rondo and the team are waiting until they are confident that enough strength has returned to the knee in the hopes that Andrews will give the thumbs-up to resume full practice activities.

Ainge has previously said that Rondo could be back in game action as early as two weeks after gaining clearance to return to practice. That timeline suggests Rondo is unlikely to return in December.