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Hoiberg calls Rondo’s return long shot; report says he might try

Rajon Rondo was definitely trying Tuesday, putting up right-handed shots as well as left-handed ones, despite still wearing a splint on his fractured right thumb.

Will the veteran guard’s whatever-it-takes mentality be enough to get him back out on the floor before the Bulls’ first-round playoff series ends?

Coach Fred Hoiberg said Rondo wouldn’t play Wednesday in Boston. But later Tuesday, The Vertical reported that Rondo was preparing to try to play.

“This is honestly the first time he has touched a basketball with that right hand [since he hurt it in Game 2],” Hoiberg said. “We’ll see how it goes. He’s going to continue to condition and do everything he can. He was in the weight room [Monday] getting a good session in there for the first time. So he’s really just getting this whole process started.

“Just watching him wince a little bit when the ball was coming to him makes me think it’s a long shot. But if there’s anybody who can do it and will try to fight through it, it’s Rondo, because of the competitor he is.’’

Rondo was in a cast right after the injury, not just for the thumb but to help with a wrist injury he has been fighting for the last month. The Bulls originally ruled him out “indefinitely,” suggesting he would be unavailable for the rest of the series with the Celtics, but there have been growing signs he could be back sooner.

Considering the Bulls had a 2-0 series lead with Rondo — and haven’t won since he was sidelined — there’s a lot of hope he’s a quick healer.

“We want that guy back, man, but I don’t know if it will happen, if it won’t happen — I can’t tell you that,” guard Jimmy Butler said. “But we love him, man. He’s our floor general out there. He knows everything, knows every matchup, every position, and he’s still helping over there from the bench. But we really want him healthy and out there for us.”

Cooler heads?

Butler has been in the news for comments he made about Celtics reserve guard Marcus Smart after Game 4 on Sunday.

“[Smart’s] a great actor, acting tough — that’s what he does — but I don’t think he’s about that,’’ Butler said Sunday. “I’m the wrong guy to get in my face. I’m not the one for that.”

After a few days to cool down, Butler was asked Tuesday if he expected Smart to try him.

“Nah, man. I’m pleading the fifth,” he said.

He then pretended Hoiberg had called him so he could leave.

“Hey, Fred, you say something?” he yelled with a smile on his face. “Here I come.”

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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