Celtics' Rajon Rondo nearing return from knee injury
Point guard has been out for nearly 1 year with ACL tear
Rajon Rondo moved closer to returning to the court almost a year after injuring his right knee, going through a test workout at the team's practice facility in the afternoon and then joining his Celtics teammates for warmups before Wednesday night's game against the Toronto Raptors.
Also Wednesday, the Celtics announced that they had traded away backup point guard Jordan Crawford — a further indication that Rondo's return was imminent.
Rondo was on the court at the TD Garden, shooting around a couple of hours before the game. The four-time All-Star came out with the team for warmups before tipoff in his warmup clothes, and took a spot on the bench when the game began.
"I don't see him playing tonight," coach Brad Stevens said in his pregame briefing for reporters. "It would be more be more about getting into that game rhythm a little bit."
Celtics spokesman Brian Olive said the closed workout of unknown duration took place in Waltham, Mass., with members of the Maine Red Claws, Boston's NBA Development League affiliate. Stevens said he watched the workout for a few minutes but hadn't spoken to Rondo afterward.
"It accomplished what we wanted it to accomplish," Stevens said. "He's going to go through some shooting. ... I think it was more about him getting up and down the floor."
Rondo was not available for comment.
The Celtics had lost nine in a row going into Wednesday night's game at the TD Garden. Rondo hasn't played since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last Jan. 25, and he has been hinting that he would like to return for Friday night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Celtics make room
Also Wednesday, the Celtics traded backup point guard Jordan Crawford along with shooting guard MarShon Brooks to Golden State on Wednesday as part of a three-team trade that brought Joel Anthony from Miami to Boston.
"Obviously Rondo is going to be our starting point guard whenever he gets back," Stevens said. "But I think Jordan would have readily accepted that [backup] role and he would have been fine. He'd probably be fairly similarly to what he's going into, but again I thought he was in a good place."
Stevens said earlier in the week that Rondo would be put through some physical workouts to make sure he is ready. One of those workouts was on Wednesday, when the Celtics announced at 12:26 p.m. that he had been assigned to the Maine Red Claws of the Development League and then announced at 2:19 p.m. that he had been recalled.
"Rajon is progressing terrifically in his rehab and this is the next step," general manager Danny Ainge said. "This is a brief assignment so that Rajon can participate in a workout this afternoon with the Red Claws and he will be called back up to the Celtics upon the conclusion of the workout."
In his last availability, on Friday, Rondo said he hoped to make his season debut before the All-Star break; Boston's last game before the break is Feb. 12. But on Tuesday he sent a tweet saying, "29,233,380 secs" — an apparent reference to the amount of time between his surgery and Friday night's game against the Lakers.