Head coach Luke Walton informed Rondo of his decision on the flight from L.A. to San Antonio, according to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times.
Rondo started every game he was available for in the preseason and regular season, however, following his suspension, Ball emerged as a clear fit next to LeBron James and the first unit.
In two starts for Los Angeles this season, Ball has aveeraged ged12.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists while posting a box plus-minus of 0. While Rondo had a positive net rating in his two appearances with the Lakers, Ball looks like a more natural fit with the first unit.
But while starting a young player — even one that had been playing better — surely wasn’t an easy call, head coach Luke Walton’s next decision involving the rotation might be even tougher.
Walton’s next step will be deciding what to do with Brandon Ingram once he returns from his suspension on Monday, and whether he should bump Kyle Kuzma from his more natural role of starting at the four that he’s had so much success in since moving into the starting lineup.
Ingram is one of the rising young stars on the Lakers, but the first unit Walton has put together in his absence has meshed so well together that he might not want to mess with it. That, of course, would mean Ingram moves to bench, which would be a hard call to make given Ingram’s status as one of the pillars of this young Lakers core.
If Walton decides he wants to keep Ingram in the starting lineup, it’s safe to assume either Kuzma or Josh Hart move back to the bench. Both Hart and Kuzma have looked like legitimate NBA starters since being added to the first unit earlier this week, but Ingram has highest ceiling of all of them.
It’s going to be interesting to see what Walton does before tip-off on Monday, but it’s hard to argue that he made the wrong decision with Ball and Rondo.
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