Rondo says he is “87%” and “won’t come back unless I know I’m myself again”

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There still is no timeline, no date set for Rajon Rondo to return to the Celtics from the ACL injury he suffered last January — yet there are positive signs that time is near. He has been working out on the court daily and said he got fitted recently for a knee brace, which happens right before he is cleared for contact in practice.

Still Rondo refused to play the timeline game with reporters on Wednesday night when the Celtics hosted the Brooklyn Nets for a preseason clash, other than to say he likely will not be ready for the season opener next Wednesday against Toronto, reports A. Sherrod Blakely at CSNNE.com.

Sounds good, right?

Then in a statement that echoed Derrick Rose from last season, Rondo said he wasn’t just going to race back, as reported by the Boston Globe.

“I’ll know when it’s right,” he said. “Everybody is different, each injury is different… For me, when I come back, I won’t come back unless I know I’m myself again….

“I’ll know when it’s right,” he said. “Everybody is different, each injury is different… For me, when I come back, I won’t come back unless I know I’m myself again.”

Even more Rose-like, he said when he can jump off his right leg and dunk he’ll know he’s ready.

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That said, this is not going to be the same kind of situation. First, Rose’s injury was in April, Rondo in January so we’re talking months of extra rehab. Rondo said he wants to get out there and lead this rebuilding team.

However, like Rose he should not rush this — it’s not about this season (a rebuilding one in Boston), it’s about the next decade of his career. He needs to go slow and get this fully healed, not push back to win a couple extra games in November.

He’ll be back when he’s ready. It just doesn’t feel like that is this far away.

Trail Blazers beat Suns by 48, biggest season-opening rout in NBA history

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Any controversy over C.J. McCollum‘s suspension for the season-opener should be put to rest. The Trail Blazers fared fine without him.

More than fine.

Portland beat the Suns, 124-76, Wednesday. The 48-point margin is the largest ever in a season opener, even as the Trail Blazers let a 58-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle.

Here are the most lopsided season-openers in NBA history (openers for both teams appearing twice):

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The 48-point defeat is also the Suns’ worst lost in franchise history, topping a 44-point loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1988. It could be a long year in Phoenix.

Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova scrap (video)

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Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova thrive on aggravating opponents, so when matched up, of course they aggravated each other.

Deduct points from Smart for pulling the hold-me-back charade behind a referee. Plus, Dellavedova’s Bucks beat Smart’s Celtics, 108-100.

Report: ‘Tremendous concern’ for Jeremy Lin’s knee injury

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The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?

Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:

If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.

The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.

It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.

Aaron Gordon throws himself alley-oop off backboard (video)

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Remember when Aaron Gordon was a promising fun player?

The Magic sidetracked him by playing him at small forward most of last season. But back at power forward, Gordon showed how he could push the pace as a four in Orlando’s season-opening win over the Heat.

There’s obviously flair in passing to yourself off the backboard, but it’s a sound way to improve position. Gordon did that to fantastic effect.