Rajon Rondo returns and the Celtics' questions remain

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Rajon Rondo technically answered questions at the Celtics' media day on Monday, but even more live on.

WALTHAM -- Looking like he just arrived from the set of an action movie, Rajon Rondo addressed the Boston media for the first time since tearing his ACL last January. Unlike past seasons, there were no trade rumors to discuss -- yet -- and in a break from tradition, he didn't even bother to pledge to be nicer to the reporters staring back at him. Other than that, it was the same old Rondo.

He's not going to play for a while, and no one knows how long a while is going to be.

"Sometime in like, 2013 or 2014," Rondo said in what is now the definitive open-ended timetable. "Probably sometime in the winter, maybe the fall."

"When I'm mentally ready, I'll play." -Rajon Rondo

Rondo did his research and consulted numerous players who had been through torn ACLs. He said he was going to be smart about returning. He's taking control of his rehab, and that if that leaves him open to criticism, kindly remember that this is the same guy who came back into a playoff game after his elbow went ka-blam on the Garden floor. Honestly, the Celtics can wait. Like their point guard, they're not going anywhere at the moment.

"When I'm mentally ready, I'll play," Rondo said. "Until you go through this type of injury -- a lot of people gave Derrick Rose a lot of heat about not playing, or whatever the case may be -- this injury isn't easy. It's more mental when you come back, and you get around 10-11 months, it's just feeling confident."

As to the other pressing matter, his relationship with new coach Brad Stevens, Rondo said, "Me and Brad have become best friends."

Shortly after he was introduced as the Celtics coach, Stevens flew to Louisville, where Rondo was holding his annual summer camp, and the two talked basketball for an hour and a half. Ever since, they've been trading texts and social visits. (Stevens also suggested some books for Rondo to read, but when I tried to ask a follow-up -- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, maybe -- I was shouted down for yet another rehab question.)

To hear Stevens tell it, he envisions his team as an unselfish unit with shooters spread all over the floor. He used words like "pace" and "versatility," and didn't seem overly concerned with the hot mess of a roster Danny Ainge provided for him in his first season.

Two fairly expensive veteran small forwards in Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace? No problem. Play them together. A bunch of power forwards and two guards? Whatever, get the most skill on the court and it will work itself out.

"I don't get too emotionally worried about results one way or another," Stevens said. "But I'm a competitive guy."

To be competitive, he needs Rondo. Stevens is clearly excited about coaching him, and Rondo sounded like he was engaged in the new chapter of his basketball life. "This is his team, this is my team," Rondo said. "I'm very supportive of him and he's very supportive of me."

As for the other coach who raised him from a rookie to a four-time All-Star, Rondo was characteristically unsentimental about Doc Rivers departure.

"I give Doc a lot of credit," he said. "He was very hard on me. He helped me become the player I am today and I give him a lot of credit. Now, he's gone to L.A. and that's that."

Someone asked him how he felt when Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce had been traded, and Rondo said, "I didn't feel anything," which was partly true. He was flying when the trade went down, and upon landing, he found he had about 45 text messages. "I thought I was traded."

If you were expecting any more insight than that, well, why? That's Rondo. He hosted a dinner the other night for players, coaches and even the owners, a bit of information that was provided by Ainge. "Who told you that?" he snapped in his trademark laconic way.

"If I got the coaches respect and my teammates respect, then it really doesn't matter," Rondo said. "Everybody else doesn't know me."

Same as it ever was. Rondo's appearance, cut off after about a dozen questions for some reason, was one of the few genuinely comforting things about a Celtics media day that didn't feature Pierce for the first time since the Clinton administration. KG was in Brooklyn, dishing up tangential cooking analogies for a whole different set of scribes.

Instead there was Gerald Wallace, who acknowledged that the trade took him by surprise but that he's happy to be here. And Kris Humphries, who's happy to be here, and Keith Bogans and you get the idea. That's what media day is for. Well, that and Jeff Green interviewing rookie Kelly Olynyk about what kind of conditioner he uses in his hair.

It's a whole new weird world for the Celtics, but once again, we're all left to wait on Rondo.

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