Celtics vice president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Monday he has been especially impressed with the progress of Rajon Rondo since his return from right knee surgery and is looking forward to Rondo returning next year.

Rondo, who had 8 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists in a 113-108 loss to the 76ers Monday night after missing two games because of a bruised left shin, entered the contest averaging 12.8 points, 11 assists, and 5.5 rebounds in his past 19 games. Rondo, who was elbowed in the jaw and knocked down in the first half against the 76ers, has said he is looking forward to a full summer workout regimen as he is finally nearing full health.

“I think Rondo’s going to have a great year next year,” Ainge said. “I think he’s going to have the best year of his career. Watching Rondo right now and watching him develop as a player I feel like he’s headed towards the best year of his career.”

Rondo has been mentioned several times in trade rumors this season. When asked if there was a good possibility Rondo would be with the Celtics next year, Ainge said, “Of course.”

When asked if he has spoken with Rondo about the guard’s long-term future in Boston, Ainge said: “Listen, I tell everybody the same, whether it’s KG [Kevin Garnett], Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, whatever, I really love and respect all the guys but I can’t ever promise anybody that [a trade] won’t happen. That’s not my job. My job is not assure them [they’re staying] but to do what I think is best for the Celtics. I don’t have an intention or plan [to trade Rondo] but I can never make that sort of promise.