Rajon Rondo sees the path that Adrian Peterson took back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and the All-Star guard believes he can travel that path, too.
The Celtics floor general began heading in that very direction Tuesday, when the famed Dr. James Andrews surgically repaired Rondo’s injured right knee at Andrews’s clinic in Florida.
Andrews also performed Peterson’s surgery in December of 2011, after which the Minnesota Vikings running back returned to the field in less than 10 months and rushed for a league-leading 2,097 yards, just 8 short of the NFL record for a season (Eric Dickerson had 2,105 in 1984).
Peterson’s recovery is considered extraordinary, considering it often can take upward of a year for professional athletes to return to the field, let alone be their old selves.
“And you know Rondo: He’s going to want to come back faster than anybody who’s ever returned,” said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge Wednesday.
Ainge said he spoke with Rondo after the surgery, and that the guard is “determined.”
“Dr. Andrews thought the surgery went great, clean, no complications, no other damage,” Ainge added.
When Andrews operated on Peterson’s torn ACL, he used a patellar tendon graft. Andrews did the same procedure with Rondo, who chose the renowned orthopedic surgeon after seeking multiple opinions.
“He should have a fine and very speedy recovery,” Ainge said.
The Celtics expect Rondo to be back by training camp in October. Rondo, who suffered his injury in a double-overtime loss at Atlanta Jan. 25, is expected to remain in Florida to begin the initial stages of his rehabilitation.
Peterson has publicly stated that his recovery isn’t something everyone can do.
“Everybody’s body heals different,” he told NFL.com. “That’s something nobody is going to understand.”
Should Rondo try to make it back quickly, as Peterson did?
Coach Doc Rivers said he wants Rondo back as quickly as possible, and that having Peterson in mind could help, but that doesn’t mean Rondo will make it back that quickly.
“Adrian Peterson has probably messed everyone’s minds up,” Rivers said. “Everyone thinks they they’re going to come back and be Adrian Peterson.”
Rivers noted that football and basketball are wildly different, and that in basketball, it often can take players longer to feel comfortable when coming back from an injury.
Ainge said that guard Leandro Barbosa, who was diagnosed with a torn left ACL, also sustained damage to the medial collateral ligament and will wait about a month before having surgery.
Barbosa, who averaged 5.2 points per game, signed a one-year, veteran-minimum deal with the Celtics in the offseason. Rivers said he would “absolutely” like to have Barbosa back next season.
Of the injuries the Celtics have sustained of late, Rivers said, “We literally can’t have another one. So, if someone gets hurt, they can’t get hurt. We have to ignore it.”
Jared Sullinger came down funny after a rebound early against Sacramento Jan. 30. The rookie forward’s back went out. That next morning, he was in excruciating pain and could barely walk.
Doctors didn’t give him an option; they told him he’d have back surgery and miss the rest of the season. And he was OK with that.
“It was a sigh of relief, to get it over with, to get everybody out of my face about my back,” Sullinger said in his first public comments since the surgery.
His back condition had raised red flags during the 2012 draft, and that was partly why he fell to the Celtics late in the first round. But Sullinger said doctors told him his back should be “good for the rest of my life.”
Sullinger, who was averaging 6 points and 5.9 rebounds, didn’t expect to have surgery this soon. Maybe in two or three years, but not now. However, when he tweaked it against Sacramento, that timeline went out the window.
For now, Sullinger said, he is spending his time on Twitter and video games. He plans to get a chef and a nutritionist to help keep him fit. He said he doesn’t know what his rehabilitation will be like.
“I’m kind of letting my doctors tell me what I can do now,” he said. “We have all the time in the world.”
Sullinger said he expects to be ready by next season. And he said this surgery will make him better down the line.
“Because with the back problems, I had limitations,” he said. “The doctor told me with the two disks being herniated, it was only making my legs weaker. Hopefully that’s a sign that I might be able to get off the ground more than 2 inches.”
Not in a rush
With the roster depleted, is Fab Melo an option? Don’t count on it. The rookie center is active and in uniform, but Rivers said they won’t rush him into action. “Players play when they’re ready,” Rivers said. “That will never change. If Fab was ready, he’d be playing.” . . . Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (elbow) missed his seventh straight game.Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BaxterHolmes