Signs Point Toward Friday Return for Rondo

WALTHAM, Mass. – There are about 270,000 seconds left until the Celtics tip off against the Lakers on Friday.

There may also be about 270,000 seconds until Rajon Rondo makes his long-awaited return from the torn right ACL he suffered on Jan. 25, 2013.

With one click of a button and 15 characters Monday night, Rondo put the basketball world on alert. His tweet, which can be seen below, is almost exactly the amount of time that will have passed since his surgery on Feb. 12 to Friday’s tip-off against Los Angeles.

All of the chatter at Tuesday’s Celtics practice was about Rondo’s tweet and his expected return on Friday. Though no one would confirm that he will be Boston’s starting point guard against Los Angeles, coaches and players did give indications that Friday will be the day.

Brad Stevens gave the strongest hint at a Friday return after he was asked if it’s safe to say that he’s planning on Rondo being in the lineup against the Lakers. Stevens responded by saying, “I’m not preparing for anything but tomorrow, but yeah, I would think that there’s a chance that he’s back Friday.” Stevens also said that it “wouldn’t surprise” him if Rondo plays against Los Angeles, and that there are “no basketball boxes that need to be checked with him.”

In other words, he’s healthy, and he’s ready to play.

Rondo must have rubbed off on his teammates this season because they were very coy with their responses on Tuesday about his impending return.

Rajon Rondo

Based on Rajon Rondo's tweet and Boston's comments on Tuesday, Celtics fans may be seeing more of this on Friday.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

First up was Jordan Crawford, who is the man who will likely be replaced by Rondo when the All-Star returns to the lineup. Crawford smiled and told the media, “I have no clue,” after being asked if Rondo had given him an indication that No. 9 would be in uniform on Friday. This, mind you, came shortly after Crawford discussed his starting point guard role as if it is something of the past.

Next in line was Jared Sullinger. Sullinger seemed to play onto Rondo’s cryptic tweet with the following comment.

“With Rondo, it’s always a mystery,” he said, also smiling, while referencing Rondo’s probable return to the court. “I think that’s him. That’s his M.O., on and off the basketball court. He’s always a mystery.”

Apparently, so is the timing of Rondo’s passes. Sullinger chuckled while telling a story about how Rondo’s elite passing skills caught him off guard during Tuesday’s practice.

“We had practice today and he threw a pass at me in 5-on-0 and it kind of blew my mind because I didn’t even think he was going to pass it to me,” said Sullinger. “I forgot last year I was told by a seasonal vet, ‘Always have your hands up.’ It was just kind of shocking that he threw it in 5-on-0 the way he did.”

Asked if the pass hit him in the face, Sullinger said, “Almost. Luckily I have good enough hands where I kind of dodged that.”

That’s Rondo. He’s unique. He does things that other people can’t. He is, to use Sullinger’s words, a special basketball player.

It hasn’t taken long for Stevens to recognize the influence Rondo has on his teammates while the point guard is on the floor. Rondo has made his teammates better since he was cleared for full practice on Dec. 17.

“Even as a guy that hasn’t played organized (basketball) in a year,” Stevens said, “he’s still impactful in a big time way on the people on the court with him.”

Crawford also touched on the impact Rondo will make on the court, particularly for him.

“He’s another playmaker,” said Crawford, who has never played a regular season game alongside Rondo. “It’s big to have another playmaker on the floor. Avery is shooting well in spot shots, Jeff is shooting spot shots, and now I can get some easy shots.

“That’s definitely going to help me and help the team. I’m excited to play with him.”

He’ll get that opportunity on Friday… we think. Still, as Stevens explained after practice, there’s one more hurdle for Rondo to leap over with his reconstructed knee.

“We’ve got a day planned, some pretty strenuous activity planned tomorrow, for him, and then kind of go from there,” Stevens said.

Media members then questioned the coach about what he’ll be looking for as he watches Rondo during Wednesday’s planned workout.

“I’m looking for his thumb to go up,” Stevens said bluntly.

If it does, then you can go ahead and add another interesting footnote to the NBA’s most storied rivalry. Rondo, it seems, is only a couple hundred thousand seconds away from his long-awaited return to the parquet.