While speaking to reporters following the news, Rondo’s Lakers teammates made it clear how much they’ll miss him.
“He’s a true leader, a coach on the floor. Knows all the plays, knows where everybody is supposed to be,” said Rondo’s fellow Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball. “He’s the best leader I’ve ever played with, between him and LeBron [James], so personally I’m going to miss him a lot.”
James agrees that Rondo’s absence will leave a leadership void, but he also isn’t willing to use it as an excuse for anything.
“It’s tough. he’s one of our captains, one of our leaders. I’ve heard we’ve got great surgeons here in L.A. so they’ll get right to it,” James said. But it’s next man up... We all have to pick him up.”
Rondo is a unique player and personality though, so replacing him won’t be easy. In fact, Josh Hart says the team shouldn’t even try. They have to try and just do other things better.
“Great vet, true professional on and off the court, so obviously that’s going to be a blow for us but next man up,” Hart said. “We can’t replicate what he brings. His basketball IQ, his unselfishness. But other guys gotta step up.”
Rondo had used his IQ at times this season to set teammates up and help them run offense — most notably when he basically told Tyson Chandler everywhere he had to go in Chandler’s first game with the Lakers — another quality Kentavious Caldwell-Pope says the Lakers will be miss on the floor.
“He’s the head of the snake,” Caldwell-Pope said. “He’s directing everybody to where they need to be. We’re gonna miss him”
The good news for the Lakers, however, is that Rondo doesn’t have to be on the floor to share his expertise with the rest of the team. Ball thinks he can still affect the Lakers as a pseudo coach on the bench.
“Rondo helps me a lot, but he’s still going to be with the team and stuff, so definitely his leadership will still be there,” Ball said, and despite the increased role he figures to see in Rondo’s absence, he’s still hoping his fellow floor general comes back soon.
“It’s going to be tough having him out, but we’re wishing him a speedy recovery and can’t wait to have him back,” Ball said.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.