WALTHAM — Rajon Rondo wove his way down the Boston Celtics practice court, stopping to interrupt an interview with Brandon Bass and another with Avery Bradley.
Photographers hustled to take pictures, and reporters scrambled to get in position. After all, it’s the first time they’ve seen him in uniform since January.
The Celtics point guard is not quite finished with his rehab from surgery to repair a knee ligament he tore in January. Rondo would not give a timetable for his return, saying only it would be in the 2013-14 season before adding that it would be in the winter — or perhaps the fall.
“I miss being out there on the court with my teammates and helping them win,” he said, adding that he was working on his ball-handling and his shooting but could not take part in scrimmages or anything involving contact. “The bike has become my friend.”
A four-time All-Star and the only remaining member of the Celtics’ 2008 NBA championship team, Rondo is now the undisputed star and leader of a franchise in the middle of a sudden and dramatic rebuilding process. Coach Doc Rivers was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, and future Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were sent to the Brooklyn Nets.
Starting a season without them “is very hard,” owner Steve Pagliuca said.
“We all grew up with those players,” he said. “I watched them play every day, got a chance to know them.”
Rivers was replaced by former Butler coach Brad Stevens, who had never before coached or played in the NBA. But replacing the two perennial All-Stars will be more difficult.
“This is a fresh start for us. I’m excited about this fresh start,” said Rondo, who said with a smirk that he and Stevens were now “best friends.” ‘‘This is his team. This is my team. I’m very supportive of him and he’s very supportive of me.”