Ever since Rondo and the Celtics hinted that there was even a possibility that Rondo would be able to return from a broken hand in time for opening night, we've been convinced he'll be out there. After all, this is the same guy that missed little more than a TV timeout while returning from a dislocated elbow in the 2011 playoffs and played 12 minutes on a torn ACL in 2013.
So less than five weeks after undergoing a procedure to repair a fractured metacarpal bone, we expect Rondo will be out there Wednesday driving right at old friend Kevin Garnett while fully aware a setback is one hard tumble away. It's going to take more than that to delay the start of what could be Rondo's redemption tour.
Rondo has an awful lot of motivation this season, but none greater than a desire to reestablish himself among the elite players in the league. Limited to 68 games over the past two seasons while working his way back from an ACL tear, it seems that the rest of the league has forgotten about the spunky point guard with a championship ring. This, even more than his looming $100 million-plus payday, is what will drive Rondo this season.
An example: ESPN Insider unveiled a piece this week headlined, "NBA's Best Point Guard?" in which a fictional front office staff -- though one that included former NBA coach George Karl -- debated the merits of players who might fit under that title. Despite checking in at nearly 2,000 words, the article did not include a single mention of Rondo's name, although it did include Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has repeated many times that he expects Rondo to have the best season of his NBA career. He dismissed the idea that Rondo's status as a potential unrestricted free agent is driving him -- Rondo almost certainly is going to command maximum money regardless of how this season plays out -- but Ainge is certain that the way Rondo has faded from the national spotlight will drive the 28-year-old point guard.
"I can't wait to see him play. He just has a lot to prove," Ainge said. "I just see it in him. He's really dying to get out there and play. I'm excited for him."