Rajon Rondo's return to the court is an interesting topic. On one hand, you have to understand that he's a competitor and he's already talked about making a swift recovery along the lines of what Adrian Peterson did last year. On the other hand, aside from pride, what's the point in rushing back? The team might even be motivated to hold him out as long as possible. Still, Ainge has made comments to the effect of expecting Rondo by training camp.
Now, however, we're starting to hear a few rumblings about taking it slow with Rondo.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett lament leaving Rajon Rondo behind - ESPN Boston
Ainge did admit that the team might have to take it slow with Rondo during training camp starting in late September, but said being ready for opening night in late October was a reasonable goal.
That's still an aggressive timeline considering Rondo had surgery in February and would be little more than eight months removed from surgery for that partially torn ACL by opening night.
Pierce and Garnett hinted that they have suggested to Rondo to take it slow, maybe noting that there's little rush to get back for a team in transition. But after sitting out the final three months of the 2012-13 season, it's going to be hard to keep Rondo pinned down.
Regardless of "tanking" or pride or anything like that, it would seem to me that the wisest thing for Rondo's career would be to make sure that he's 100% healed and ready to get back to action before he returns to the court. They are different injuries, but the Derrick Rose situation tells us all we need to know about how odd and/or unpredictable injuries can be.
I wouldn't expect Ainge or anyone to be anything but optimistic for a number of reasons. For one thing, there are season tickets to be sold. For another thing, Ainge is still (at least casually) listening to offers for Rondo and a prolonged injury isn't going to help keep the pricetag up. Of course those are pretty cynical viewpoints but they are also somewhat logical. The point is we can't know for sure when he'll be back regardless of what anyone says.
I don't think it is a given that he'll be at full speed even when he returns either. In the past we've seen players returning from this kind of injury take a full year or more to get back to where they were before. Rondo might very well struggle if he doesn't have elite burst of speed and plant-and-explode athleticism.
Maybe I'm making more of this than I need to, but I don't think it is fair to anyone to just assume that Rondo's going to rehab and be full speed at the start of training camp. Playing it safe might be in the best interests of the team for a lot of reasons.