WALTHAM, Mass -- It’s been one week since Rajon Rondo has been cleared for full-contact practice activities, and the point guard is wasting no time getting back into the swing of things as he continues to recover from ACL surgery on his right knee.
After a one-hour practice session on Friday, Rondo organized a full-court 5-on-5 scrimmage, featuring teammates and assistant coach Walter McCarty.
The group played for about half an hour after practice ended, while the media looked on.
“Rondo initiated it,” Jared Sullinger explained after the session, “Because we went live [in practice] but didn’t go all the way live. He asked a couple guys if they would play pickup with him. I volunteered right then and there, because I knew it would help my conditioning and it would help his confidence, getting up and down the court, so I was all for it.”
Rondo looked solid in the session, taking on the majority of ball-handling duties for his team during the pickup contest. The veteran guard made a collection of jumpers and strong moves to the basket, but did look winded toward the end of the games.
Gerald Wallace played alongside Rondo during the session and gave some perspective on his teammate's progress:
“He looks pretty good,” Wallace said. “His timing is off. He’s so used to doing some of the things he did in the past, that it’s not all back yet. He looks comfortable, especially guarding screen-and-rolls. We’re trying to get his conditioning up.”
Wallace also emphasized that the extra practice reps are exactly what Rondo needs right now in his progression back to the floor.
“We’re helping him get his wind, get his rhythm back out on the court,” Wallace continued. “This what he needs. With the games we’ve had, we haven’t really had time in practice to go full court, or put stress on guys, so this is an opportunity for him to be able to get up and down the court.”
Rondo’s teammates did not take it easy on him during the session, as the point guard was fouled and hit the floor multiple times on moves to the basket.
“Once you’re on the court, you are fair game,” Sullinger said. “I don’t care who you are, how hurt you are, you are fair game. I think it’s good [Rondo] experienced those bumps, fell on the floor, did a couple crossovers, just to feel his knee out and break that mental [block] that when you fall you can’t get back up. I think that was real helpful for him today.”
During the team’s regular practice session, coach Brad Stevens had Rondo scrimmaging with the second unit in 5-on-5 action, a situation Stevens said wasn’t rare.
“Sometimes I put him with the first group, sometimes I put him with the second group. I think he enjoys being with the second group, kind of takes it as a challenge to beat the first group. The best players I’ve ever coached all have loved the days when you put them with the second group to try to win the scrimmage. Some guys read too far into it, other guys just get competitive,” Stevens said.
When asked about Rondo’s progress, Stevens was hesitant to declare too much about how he is feeling. “You’ll have to ask him,” Stevens said. “I don’t know. It’s not fair for me to say, and you know my thought would be you would want a number on that and I don’t know. He’s the only one who can answer that.”
Stevens continued, “He looks like he’s progressing. I don’t think he’d be ready to play tomorrow.”
Rondo is expected to return to game action sometime next month, but Sullinger emphasized there was no pressure for him to do so too quickly.
“I want to make sure he’s 100 percent himself,” Sullinger declared, “I want to make sure he’s confident with this knee and understands that he can play this game again, so there’s no minor setbacks. I just want him to play as well as possible, and if that takes a long time, that’s fine. Health is first around here.”