Rondo will return 'when the time is right'

December, 22, 2013
12/22/13
10:35
PM ET
Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo hesitated to put a timeline on his return to game action while talking Sunday and reaffirmed that he'll be back on the floor when his body tells him he's ready.

Rondo, who underwent ACL surgery in mid-February, returned to full-contact practice activities last week, but has engaged in limited 5-on-5 work given the team's lack of practice time. Rondo said he still needs extended court time to return to game shape and prepare himself mentally and physically for playing for the first time in about a year.

"I’ve had one practice and a pickup game, that’s about it," Rondo told reporters in Indiana after Boston's 106-79 loss to the Pacers. "My endurance is key for me. I don’t want to come back and not be fully 100 percent as far as my health, and me being in shape as well, because the worst thing is me coming back and not being in shape and have another injury, so I want to make sure I’m in basketball condition."

Pressed on a timeline, Rondo remained noncommittal.

"It might be mid-January, late February, I’m going to come back when the time is right and I get my stamina," Rondo said.

Later he added, "I’m just listening to my body. If my body told me I was 100 percent, I’d be playing now. I’m not."

Asked what percentage he might peg himself at right now, Rondo hesitated to assign a number there as well.

"I’m going to stay away from numbers tonight," Rondo said. "I just want to practice. I just want to get as much practice time as possible. I haven’t practiced in 12 months. I just want to get back in the rhythm and flow of things, get my timing back.

"A lot of these guys, I haven’t played with so they don’t know where I am going to throw the ball. They’ve been playing with Jordan [Crawford] and Phil [Pressey] so I don’t want to come back and turn the ball over at a high rate. The pickup game I played the other day was good for guys knowing that certain passes they might not think are coming are coming, so I want to continue to get guys rhythm. Guys like [Jared Sullinger], Gerald Wallace back cutting, Avery [Bradley] back cutting, I just have to find my personnel and know what we need to do going forward.

"I’m eager to play the game of basketball. It’s what I’ve been doing my entire life. I've never had a time where I had to sit out this much, so it’s a very humbling experience. I just want to play the game.

"There's a lot going on in my mind, but team first. Once [rehab is] over, I want to play and while I’m out there I want to play. Everything happens for a reason and when I get back I’ll be ready to go."

Rondo stressed that there's a big difference between being able to jump into a post-practice pickup game and being ready for an NBA game.

"It’s a different thing," he said. "You can run all the sprints you want, off the court, get on the bike and do that conditioning. But being out for 10-11 months without playing the game of basketball. It’s not easy to get back in shape by just doing those type of things. You’ve got to play basketball plays.

"It felt good [to scrimmage]. I got winded very quickly. We only played two pickup games and I was tired by the second one, so it’s just a matter of time. We continue to go as hard as I can in those pickup games and practice time and get some repetitions and get my conditioning up."

The Celtics are 12-17, but near the top of the Atlantic Division despite playing without Rondo through the first two months of the season.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9