Detroit Pistons v Boston Celtics

Rajon Rondo cleared for full contact, expected to return for Celtics in January


The Celtics have been exceeding expectations this season under new head coach Brad Stevens, and are currently in line for the four seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture despite the team’s losing record.

Things would appear to be only getting better with the addition of All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo to the lineup, considering that on paper he’s the face of the franchise and the one player that should be firmly in place for the team to build around for the foreseeable future.

Rondo is back practicing with his teammates, and should make his return to the court beginning next month.

From Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston:

Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo received clearance to resume full-contact practice activities on Friday and coach Brad Stevens said he believes Rondo should return to game action next month.

Rondo traveled Friday with team physician Dr. Brian McKeon to meet with operating surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who examined Rondo’s progress and cleared him to return to practice activities. The Celtics threw Rondo into the fire on Saturday, engaging in a spirited 45-minute session despite coming off game action on Friday night.

“[Rondo] had a good trip [Friday], as far as getting good news, and it looks like he’s on schedule to be closer, but still probably doesn’t look like we’re going to see him on the court any time this month,” said Stevens. “Hopefully as we get into January, he’ll be closer.”

Boston most recently has used a three-guard lineup featuring Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford, but none of those players have the grasp of the offense or the court vision that Rondo possesses, and his presence will only improve the Celtics’ chances of holding onto their position in the standings.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.