PORTLAND, Maine — Star point guard Rajon Rondo became perhaps the highest profile player yet to grace the Maine Red Claws roster Wednesday, when the Boston Celtics announced they temporarily assigned him to their local NBA Development League affiliate.
Rondo, a four-time NBA all-star who helped the Celtics win the league championship as a rookie in 2007-2008, is rehabilitating from a torn ACL injury in his right knee. While rehab assignments at feeder league teams are less common in pro basketball than in other major sports, such as baseball, rumors persisted in recent weeks that Rondo would spend time with the Portland-based team before returning to action in Boston.
But while Wednesday’s news finally confirmed those rumors, Rondo’s visit may have been disappointingly brief for Maine fans hoping to see the guard play in person.
According to Danny Ainge, president of basketball operations for the Celtics, Rondo only was with the Maine team long enough for an afternoon workout. Red Claws officials said Wednesday afternoon that even that workout didn’t take place here, as the Maine team was in Waltham, Mass., conducting basketball activities.
The Red Claws return to Maine and next play an actual game again on Saturday, but Rondo was reassigned to the Celtics roster immediately after getting in a practice with the team Wednesday.
Multiple Boston media outlets have reported that Rondo will return to game action as a member of the Celtics on Friday, when they take on the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Rajon is progressing terrifically in his rehab and this [D-League stint] is the next step,” said Ainge in a statement earlier in the day Wednesday. “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.”
Rondo has not played in a game since he tore his ACL in a game against the Miami Heat nearly a full year ago. Before his injury last season, he had played in 38 games for the Celtics and averaged a double-double, with 13.7 points and 11.1 assists per game.
Prior to Rondo’s arrival, the highest-profile player to have been on the Red Claws roster is arguably Avery Bradley, who was assigned to the Maine team during his rookie season of 2010-11. Bradley, who highlighted his Portland stint by breaking the D-League record for steals in a game with 9, has since become a valued contributor for the Celtics.