At one point on Friday, the Internet and Twitter was abuzz with a rumor that Rajon Rondo had identified January 17, the night the Boston Celtics host the Los Angeles Lakers, as the night he planned on returning to the hardwood to begin his 2013-2014 NBA season.
While it turns out that this was, indeed, just a rumor, Rondo has stated that he plans on returning to action before the All-Star break, which begins for the Celtics on February 13.
Rajon Rondo plans to return before the All-Star Break. My story: http://t.co/qcLinU6Du8
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) January 10, 2014
Rondo says he has no targeted return date and he denied the report that said he’d return for the Lakers game.
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) January 11, 2014
The way the Celtics have been losing ground in the Atlantic Division lately, a February return for Rondo may be too late for Boston to make up lost ground in the division, especially with resurgent Brooklyn and New York having sprinted past the Cs in the standings. Even so, having Rondo back in the mix will give coach Brad Stevens and the rest of the Celtics organization a chance to assess just how good this current roster can be with their offensive leader back on the floor.
Of course, if I have learned anything about the Atlantic Division, and the Eastern Conference as a whole, this season, it’s this: a good high school team could qualify for the playoffs. Should the Nets and the Knicks cool off and resume playing the brand of horrific basketball they opened the season with, a Rondo-led Celtics squad could make up lost ground in a hurry.
I’m still curious as to whether Rondo will spend a week or two doing a conditioning stint in the NBA Development League with the Maine Red Claws. Given the injuries suffered by Chicago’s Derrick Rose, there is no doubt in my mind that Rondo will not return until he is absolutely certain his body is 100% basketball-ready, so a little tuning up in the D is worth his consideration. At any rate, it’s nice to finally have a semi-concrete idea of when to expect him back. We’ll follow the story closely, so stay tuned!