BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens reaffirmed Monday that the decision on when Rajon Rondo returns to game action ultimately lies with the player and when he feels ready -- both mentally and physically.
"I don’t see how it could be anything else," Stevens said. "I think, ultimately, a person has to be ready and he has to feel good. There are certain physical things that he’ll have to meet to be cleared to even be considered for games that he has not met yet. But nobody should make that call except for the individual involved, in my opinion."
Rondo, who underwent ACL surgery in February, received clearance to return to full-contact activities after a visit with operating surgeon James Andrews on Friday. He participated in two Celtics practice sessions this past weekend and is targeting a return in the new calendar year.
Stevens has downplayed the impact of Rondo's return to practice because of his constant presence this season as he's navigated his rehab.
"It’s not a ton different because he’s been there for most of the time," Stevens said. "Obviously, any time you get a little bit of [Rondo] play, it adds a little bit because he’s out there and there's a little bit more trash talk by the other guys, and everybody is excited to have him back out there. But it hasn’t changed our dynamic. Our dynamic has been pretty good over the past couple weeks."
Stevens has said that his focus is on the 13 guys who are available for Monday's visit from the Timberwolves. With that in mind, a few non-Rondo pregame notes:
HUMPHRIES SET TO RETURN: Stevens said forward Kris Humphries, who missed the last two games with a sore right knee, is available for Monday's game. Boston has a healthy frontcourt again, but that could put a squeeze on minutes. "It’s a decision that we’ll just have to make," Stevens said. "And it may be game to game, it may be matchup to matchup, it may be half to half. But the good news is we’ve got five guys in the frontcourt that can really do their job to help our team win. And to help our team do well."
DANCING WITH WOLVES: Stevens continues to gush about Minnesota, particularly after the Wolves connected on a season-high 12 3-pointers during Sunday's win over the Grizzlies. "They present a lot of challenges and that’s without [Kevin] Martin scoring [a 3-pointer against Memphis]. You’ve got a group of guys that are all very capable. [Kevin] Love’s playing at an unbelievable level and continued that last night, another 30-point game. But they just have so many guys that can do that. And I think the other thing that they are really getting is a lot of help off that bench from [Robbie] Hummel. He’s coming in and -- he’s a guy I’m really familiar with -- but he’s a guy that has made huge shots in the Philly game, made a huge shot last night when Memphis cut it to three to extend it back to six. They are getting a lot of contributions from a lot of people. Clearly Love is playing at an MVP-like level, or a top-5 player in the NBA level. They present a ton of challenges in that regard."
PRAISE GOES BOTH WAYS: Minnesota coach Rick Adelman vollied that praise to Stevens and the Celtics. "They play really hard," he said. "They come at you. They’re never out of a game. They just keep competing the whole game long. I think they’ve been sitting here, waiting for us, so we expect them to come out with a great effort. They’ve been playing a lot better than people thought they would. I think a lot of that is the energy and the hard work that they do."