Though it’s unclear when Rajon Rondo might return to action for the Celtics, and though rumors persist that the team is interested in dealing its best player as it heads into a full rebuild, team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he still sees the All-Star point guard as the foundation for the Celtics future.
“Absolutely,” Ainge said when the question was posed to him Thursday at the team’s annual Shamrock Gala presented by the New England Baptist Hospital.
Ainge also said he’s “very proud” of how Rondo is treating the rehab process after undergoing knee surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
“I think he’s working as hard as he can,” Ainge said. “I’ve been very proud of him of how he really wants to get out there and I think he wants to get out there, not for his own benefit, but he wants to really help the team. He sees how he’s missed and he just loves to play. He wants to get back for all the right reasons.”
The Celtics wrapped up their preseason with a 101-97 win against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.
“We’ve been very inconsistent, which I think is typical of a young team that hasn’t played much together,” Ainge said when asked about his impressions of the Celtics through the preseason.
“When they’ve played well, it’s been fun. When they have struggled, I think it’s to be expected, to be fair. Hopefully, they’ll get a little bit more consistent as the regular season gets going.”
Just a precaution
Veteran swingman Gerald Wallace sat out practice and wore a protective medical boot on his left foot. Wallace said he was wearing the boot as a precautionary measure after receiving a cortisone shot in his ankle the night before.
Wallace, who played in Wednesday’s game against Brooklyn, said the pain in his ankle has been there all summer.
“We’ve got about six days before our opening game, so this is a chance to get a little rest, let it calm down a little bit, and hopefully go into the regular season with no pain,” Wallace said.
The 31-year-old Wallace has sat out two games this preseason.
“It’s not one of those deals where you’d have to rest him on the third day,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “I haven’t heard any of that yet. We’re just being preventative with him.
“He’s played a lot of games in his career and he plays games harder than a lot of guys do. At the end of the day, you just want to make sure he’s available come next Wednesday.”
Back issues for Faverani
Rookie center Vitor Faverani, who didn’t practice Thursday, had an MRI on his sore lower back and said he’ll meet with team doctors Friday.
Faverani’s back tightened up during Wednesday’s game, but he scored 15 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and blocked 6 shots in 28 minutes.
Faverani said he played mostly on adrenaline.
“You want to play every time,” he said. “After the game, when you relax, you feel some pains, but in the game, no.”
Faverani also seemed surprised at his ability to block shots.
“I think that’s the first time in my life I’ve blocked six shots,” he said. “It’s wonderful for me. I don’t know if that’s good luck, or one day you have timing. But I’m happy.”
Faverani has been a pleasant surprise for the Celtics during eight preseason games, averaging 7.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 15.5 minutes per game.
Stevens said the team released training camp invitees Damen Bell-Holter, DeShawn Sims and Kammron Taylor, leaving Chris Babb as the only invitee still with the team.
Babb, a guard, played in five preseason games but his future with the Celtics is unclear.
“We’ll get into that over the weekend and figure that out, but I think at the end of the day, all those guys did a great job while they were here and Babb continues to do a great job for us,” Stevens said.
The Celtics have 14 guaranteed contracts and are just under the $71.75 million luxury tax line, so it’s highly unlikely they’ll add another player because it would put them over that line.
“If there are deals made later in the year, that would open up roster spots and open up to keep us under the tax,” Ainge said. “But we will stay under the tax this year. We have to. As we’re rebuilding, not just from a standpoint of the financial budget, but as a competitive advantage.”
Bradley contract talks
The contract extension deadline for Avery Bradley is less than a week away (Oct. 31), but Ainge declined to comment on the topic beyond saying he’s been in negotiations with Bradley’s camp.
That’s a sharp turn from a month ago, when Ainge said the Celtics might wait until the following summer, when Bradley would be a restricted free agent, to broach the topic of the guard’s future with the team.
Jared Sullinger returned to practice after sitting out the Wednesday’s game with an undisclosed illness.
“It felt good to get out of the house,” Sullinger said. “I was in my bed the whole time, just laying down and just trying to hold in all the food I had the night before. Everything is cool now.”