Rajon Rondo will miss the next 4-5 weeks with a broken hand, but with multiple Los Angeles Lakers players and coaches talking up the value he brings on and off the floor, the team was surely happy to have Rondo rejoin them in Miami for their game against the Heat, even if he couldn’t play.
What Rondo could still do, however, is talk. He could be seen doing so during the game and during timeouts, serving as a de-facto assistant coach for the contest. And while Lakers head coach Luke Walton told reporters on Spectrum Sportsnet after the game that he appreciated Rondo’s vocal leadership, he did add one stipulation.
“We made a rule tonight. He’s welcome in the coaches’ huddle, but he’s not allowed to talk,” Walton said.
While Walton was laughing as he said this, Rondo was a little less PG when re-telling how Walton explained his new rule to Rondo:
Asked Luke Walton about Rondo being with the coaches tonight. He said Rajon talked too much, had to tell him if he wanted to stay in the huddles, he had to be quiet— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) November 19, 2018
Rondo: “yeah he told me to shut the *** up”
How hilarious that story is aside, it’s a positive sign for the Lakers that Walton and Rondo have enough mutual respect to rib one another like this, especially given that it appeared that Walton’s grasp on the veteran’s in the locker room was tenuous at one point earlier this season.
This joking around would seem to demonstrate that Walton and Rondo are on the same page, and Walton also said on Spectrum Sportsnet that Rondo’s return brought a lot of positives to the Lakers during timeouts (other than his over-talkitiveness when the coaches were speaking amongst themselves):
“He did pretty good with it. He had some suggestions, but it was really nice having him... He did bring some great energy to the bench and the way he talks to his teammates.”
Having a respected veteran like Rondo around to motivate his teammates is good for the Lakers, and it sounds like as long as Rondo keeps his player-coaching to the right times and places, that Walton is happy to have the extra honorary assistant coach for as long as Rondo can’t play.