Jared Sullinger can't keep a secret.
"He's back working out again," Sullinger said. "Hopefully he'll be back by December."
Previously, as discovered by ESPN's Chris Forsberg, Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said that Rondo was eyeing an opening-night return, which would come more than a month before Sullinger's prediction. And with the emphasis he placed on "hopefully," there's no telling when he really expects the point man to be back.
Which begs the question: What's going on here?
Ainge would seem to have a better hold of the situation than a sophomore recovering from an injury (back) himself, but this isn't the first time Rondo's recovery schedule has come under question.
After being traded to the Brooklyn Nets, Paul Pierce opined to Forsberg that Rondo probably wouldn't be back until "December, January, who knows?" Like Sullinger, he seems to have a different idea as to when Rondo will be returning.
Both Pierce and Sullinger could know nothing, but their interpretations of his timetable are interesting concepts. Boston lost plenty of talent over the summer in Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Ensuring that Rondo is ready to roll come opening day as the Celtics begin an extensive rebuild should be top priority.
That is, if the Celtics even want him back that soon.
Ainge has insisted that Boston won't tank to increase its lottery odds, but that could be him holding something shiny in one hand while he does something else entirely with the other. General managers tend to do that.
Delaying Rondo's return theoretically takes wins off the board, rendering the Celtics Andrew Wiggins contenders—depending on how long he's out. As much as the franchise hates losing, the appeal of next year's draft class could have them aflutter.
Boston may also just not want to rush this.
If the Celtics plan to build around Rondo, being overly cautious is an investment in their distant future. Even if they had plans to trade him, keeping him on the sidelines so he doesn't damage his trade value any further is a tactic they may employ.
Of course, all of this is purely speculation. Rondo could be back in time for opening night, or the Celtics could have plans to keep him out, however innocent or impure.
For now let's assume Sullinger (and Pierce) are mistaken and bank on Rondo returning before December. Feel free to revisit any and all conspiracy theories should winter descend upon Beantown and Rondo is still riding the pine.