The Los Angeles Lakers will be shorthanded when they travel up north to take on the Sacramento Kings on Thursday as both Rajon Rondo and LeBron James have been ruled out for the contest, the team announced on Wednesday.
James suffered a groin strain on Tuesday and has been listed as day-to-day. Meanwhile, Rondo sustained a right ring finger sprain, specifically a Grade 3 sprain according Lakers sideline reporter Mike Trudell. He will be re-evaluated on Friday.
Winning games was going to be hard enough without James, but now the Lakers will be missing both of their assist leaders in James and Rondo. This season, James and Rondo are averaging a combined 13.8 assists per game. They’re also both among the top-15 players in the league in assists per game.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton’s often stagnant offense is in danger of looking even more robotic without the playmaking and vocal leadership of James and Rondo. Not only will Walton have to make adjustments, but Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma will have to step up and be leaders for the team in their absence.
It also means Walton will have to look for playmaking elsewhere on the bench, which is easier said than done. Aside from the aforementioned trio fo Ball, Ingram and Kuzma, no one on the roster has shown they can make plays for others on a consistent basis this season.
Lance Stephenson has the potential to be that player for the Lakers, but it’s hard to predict what he can bring on a night-to-night basis. Svi Mykhailiuk, who will likely see playing time off the bench, is another player to look out for.
It won’t be impossible, but a lot has to change pretty quickly for the Lakers to survive these next few games without James and Rondo. Hopefully at least one of them is ready to go sooner rather than later.