Luke Walton has been a part of championship teams at just about every level. As a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, he won alongside Kobe Bryant, who had his way of communicating. As a coach, he watched the Golden State Warriors build one of the most imposing dynasties the NBA has ever seen, and saw the discussions necessary to make that happen.
So when he praises Rajon Rondo for his communication skills and you factor in the experience Walton brings to that evaluation, you know it’s real.
“He’s a very special player,” Walton told reporters before the Lakers’ loss to the Clippers on Saturday night. “As smart as I’ve ever seen in the way he communicates. I did tell him with him playing we’re going to miss his voice on the bench.
“Last game (when Rondo was inactive against the Sacramento Kings) he had some entertaining commentary, but I’ve got to get him on the floor.”
Having paid close attention to Rondo both in person and from home, it’s legitimately fun to watch him basically spend as little time idle as he possibly can.
On the court, he’s always up to something, whether it’s finding any possible advantage he can — even if it’s merely stopping a player from high-fiving during free-throws.
On the bench, he’ll pull anyone sitting in the nearest vicinity to point out anything he can on the team’s tablets. Though it would be hilarious to find out he was pointing out the incredible comedic timing on “The Good Place.” (He definitely isn’t doing this, but still)
But here’s where Rondo’s communication skills, combined with those of Walton and LeBron James might really have an impact on the Lakers organization: Neither Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram are that kind of leader. But if there’s anyone they could learn from, it’d be guys like Rondo and James.
This isn’t to say those skills will absolutely carry over, by the way. There is definitely a scenario in which Ball, Ingram and the other members of the Lakers’ young core fall into the background as the conversation takes place without their input. But I’d rather see the kids learn from these kinds of leaders than try to figure things out on their own. That almost never works out for just about anyone involved.
So, the Lakers will move forward, with a ton of communication between champions. Fans just have to hope those habits translate to the younger members of this team as they pay close attention — as their head coach once did all those years ago.