C's expect in-season return for Rondo

MILTON, Mass. -- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he'd be "shocked" if Rajon Rondo was ready for the start of the regular season in late October and hinted that an early December return is more likely for the All-Star point guard.

Rondo underwent surgery in mid-February to repair a partially torn ACL. While the team initially set an aggressive timeline in hopes of having him ready for opening night, Ainge hesitated to offer any firm return date and said the team will now take it slow with Rondo.

"We’ve just seen examples of why we shouldn’t give dates of expected return," said Ainge, likely with a nod toward two recent high-profile ACL rehabs in Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and Derrick Rose. "We’ll just take it week by week and he’ll continue to get evaluated, but he’s working extremely hard, and he wants to play. He’s excited for the new team. I think there was a time when all of [Boston's offeseason moves were] happening that he was sort of wondering, ‘Where do I fit in here?’ ‘What’s our team?’ But I think Rajon is in a very good place right now."

During an appearance on Boston sports radio 98.5 the SportsHub before the Shamrock Foundation's sixth annual Teeing up For Kids Golf Tournament at Wollaston Golf Club, Ainge guessed an early December return for Rondo, but stressed later that there is no firm timeline.

"I don’t think we would ever succumb to the pressure of bringing back a player from an ACL too soon," said Ainge. "We’ve got to do what’s right for him. He’s young -- 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."

Pressed on if Rondo could be back for opening night, Ainge offered, "I would be shocked."

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