rajon rondo

Rajon Rondo was having his best season for the struggling Boston Celtics.

He’s averaging career highs in points and rebounds. He leads the NBA in assists and triple-doubles by big margins. He was voted the starting point guard for the Eastern Conference in next month’s All-Star game.

”He’s our guy that’s orchestrating everything for us,” guard Courtney Lee said. ”He’s our leader.”

Not anymore.

Rondo is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee that requires surgery. So coach Doc Rivers must find a replacement from a group short on point-guard experience amid a widespread feeling that the Celtics’ already shaky playoff prospects are over.

He doesn’t believe it.

”You can write the obituary,” Rivers told reporters after Sunday’s 100-98, double-overtime win over the Miami Heat. ”I’m not. You can go ahead, but I’m not. We won (Sunday) and so the way I look at it is we’re going to stay in there.”

Lee could fill in at Rondo’s position. Or Jason Terry. Or Leandro Barbosa. Or, less likely, the Celtics could sign a free agent or trade for a point guard. Their first practice without Rondo is Tuesday.

– Reported by Howard Ulman of the Associated Press