The Los Angeles Lakers have treaded water since Rajon Rondo went down with a broken hand a couple weeks ago. They’ve gone 3-2 over the five games he’s be out so far, and have seemed to miss a second legitimate point guard for stretches in each of the games they’ve played without Rondo.
To his credit, Rondo has by all accounts been working tirelessly to get back to the Lakers. Monday afternoon, the team announced that all his hard work has now resulted in him being cleared for non-contact activities, though no updated timetable for his return was provided from the initial 4-5 week estimate.
He was seen getting some work in after practice.
Rajon Rondo on the court 11 days after surgery on his broken right hand. pic.twitter.com/wCQXTXE5OU— Bill Oram (@billoram) November 26, 2018
Rajon Rondo - who’s still a few weeks away - after Monday’s practice: pic.twitter.com/9UozCRWhSr— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 26, 2018
As we’ve said since he went down — and even given how frustrating it might be to watch Rondo get late-game minutes over Lonzo Ball — the Lakers do miss having him available to provide a steadying presence with that second unit.
The Lakers haven’t shown the ability to play with discipline after building double-digit leads. All too often, everyone on the court starts going for the knockout punch rather than focusing on the type of plays that got them that lead in the first place and, before you know it, there goes the lead.
For all his flaws as a player, Rondo at the very least is capable of keeping those guys he shares the court with focused on what it takes to maintain or build on whatever lead they might hold.
What gets interesting is the decision Luke Walton needs to make upon Rondo’s return. Ball has shown flashes of exactly why people want him in the starting lineup, but has also been passed over in late-game situations even with Rondo out of the rotation. Rondo is still a couple weeks away, so maybe that provides Ball enough time to earn more of those reps, but it’s kind of weird that Ball hasn’t seen many such opportunities in the clutch at all.
Still, the Lakers will cross that bridge when they get there, and their job is to focus on winning games while Rondo works to get back.