December 30, 2013

Coach: Rajon Rondo could play in Portland

The Red Claws could be a rehab stop for Rondo, the Celtics' star point guard who is working his way back from a knee injury.

By Mark Emmert
Staff Writer

Boston Celtics Coach Brad Stevens floated a tantalizing rumor Monday that star point guard Rajon Rondo might continue his rehabilitation from a knee injury as a member of the Maine Red Claws.

click image to enlarge

Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo, right, works out with teammate Kelly Olynyk before an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Boston, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013.

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

If so, the four-time NBA All-Star would be the highest-profile player to ever appear in the Development League.

Rondo hasn’t played since having surgery for a torn ACL last February. Stevens told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe after Monday’s practice that Rondo playing for Maine “is a possibility for sure” and has “been discussed.”

But Will McClaran, director of public and community relations for the Red Claws, said he had heard nothing about Rondo joining the team.

It was also news to Jeff Twiss, vice president of media relations for the Celtics. Twiss said Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, has been traveling and was unavailable for comment.

Twiss said that Rondo has been working out with the team at its practice facility for the past month, and that no date has been set for his return. Rehabilitation from ACL surgery typically takes a year.

“It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility,” Twiss said of a Rondo assignment to Maine. “But it would be unusual. Typically, you see NBA teams sending rookies or second-year players to the D-League.”

Rondo, 27, is a veteran of seven NBA seasons, and has averaged 11,1 points and 8.3 assists in 475 career regular-season games. He was a vital part of Boston’s 2008 championship team and earns a $12 million annual salary.

However, a player of his stature has never agreed to a rehab assignment in the D-League. Last year, for example, rumors emerged that Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose would spend a few games with the D-League’s Iowa Energy while working his way back from knee surgery. That never happened.

The highest-drafted player ever to spend time in the D-League was center Hasheem Thabeet, then of the Memphis Grizzlies. The second overall NBA draft pick spent part of the 2009-10 season with the Dakota Wizards in an effort to get more seasoning.

Jeremy Lin played parts of three seasons in the D-League before a scintillating half-season with the New York Knicks earned him a three-year contract with the Houston Rockets.

Mark Emmert can be contacted at 791-6424 or:

Twitter: MarkEmmertPPH

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