Stevens on Rondo: 'Anxious' for new year

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that captain Rajon Rondo has been a consistent presence when veteran players gather at the team's practice facility for morning workouts recently and believe's his All-Star point guard is anxious to showcase the improvements he's made since the end of the 2013-14 season.

"I think Rajon -- and I’m saying this from my own opinion -- but I think he’s anxious to get back out there and to get back out playing," Stevens said Wednesday after leading the team's latest pre-draft workouts at HealthPoint. "You can tell that from his work ethic. He has been with our small groups a lot in the last 8-10 days. That’s not always the case with a guy as seasoned and accomplished as him.

"He only played 30 games this year and I don’t think he ever felt like he was as good as he truly could be, at least game to game to game, stringing multiple games together. That was in large part due to coming back [from ACL surgery]. Now he’s had a little bit more time to strengthen, to get in the weight room, to work on his skill stuff. I think he looks great, first of all. Physically, he looks fantastic, and he’s been working hard, and that sets a great tone for the younger guys that come in. That’s really helpful."

Rondo returned from ACL surgery in mid-January and averaged 11.7 points, 9.8 assists, and 5.5 rebounds over 33.3 minutes per game. While working his way back from knee surgery, Rondo did not appear in games played on consecutive nights and the team exercised caution to prevent any setbacks.

Rondo said last week that he plans to spend more time than usual in Boston this offseason, including much of the past two months while his kids finished up school in the area.

"My summer has been really quiet. I’ve just been here in Waltham, rehabbing in the morning, then, at night, come back and shoot free throws, that’s about it," said Rondo. He added, "I’ve been training here, and the staff has been doing pretty good as far as my rehab and working with [strength and conditioning coach Bryan] Doo a lot, [and team trainer] Ed Lacerte every day. This is home to me as of now."

Despite being an eight-year veteran, Rondo is still making up for lost time after ACL rehab limited his ability to be on the court at the start of Stevens' tenure last summer. The coach, who will mark his one-year anniversary at the start of next month, was asked if Rondo might be more inclined to work out now because of what he missed.

"It’s really interesting that you say that [because] we were talking about some of the things that you do just in a typical defensive-technique work or whatever the case may be. He missed most of that, because he was hurt when you go through most of that, so then you’re scrambling when you’re coming back," said Stevens. "Certainly, he’s been really well coached in the past, but there may be things from a vernacular standpoint that are a little bit different, maybe a tweak here or a change there, that fits into the system differently. And so I think that having a chance now to play in games, it’s almost like... now you can break it down a little bit in 1-on-1 sessions and then get back in. And when we get back together as a full team in the fall, I think we’ll be even better."