The Los Angeles Lakers will start training camp on Tuesday, where the 19-man roster will fight for a spot in head coach Luke Walton’s rotation and for five lucky players, a place in the starting lineup.
General manager Rob Pelinka originally said that LeBron James was the only guaranteed starter for next season, and that everyone else would have to fight for their spot and this year. While there are a number of key positional battles on the Lakers, arguably none were set be more intriguing than the one at the point guard position between Lonzo Ball and Rajon Rondo.
However, it may already be over, at least according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, who said on ESPN Radio’s “Lakers Talk” that Rondo will begin the year as the starter:
“Luke Walton told me today that Rajon Rondo will be the Lakers’ starting point guard to start the year. Lonzo told me he was just cleared today for full contact practice, but Walton had already said that won’t include scrimmaging.”
In ESPN’s article on Ball, McMenamin clarified “that the plan is to start Rajon Rondo at point guard as Ball makes his way back from his mid-July surgery.”
But whether all this means simply that Ball won’t be ready for the first preseason game or that Rondo has already been declared the regular season starter, at Lakers media day on Monday, Rondo made it clear he couldn’t be less concerned about what role he’ll play with the Lakers this season:
“Whatever role coach gives me, whatever role this team wants me to play, I’ll play it,” Rondo said. “Whether it’s starting 15 games and getting benched for eight, I’ve been through it all in my career... I’m ready for anything.”
This aligns with just about everything Rondo has said since he arrived in Los Angeles. While Rondo would surely appreciate being the Lakers’ starting point guard come opening night, his primary concern is helping the team win.
Whether that’s leading the first unit or mentoring Ball from the sidelines, Rondo doesn’t seem to care.
”I’m not defined as one thing coming here,” Rondo said. “I’m just here to bring what I can to the team. Intangibles, obviously be a leader, hold guys accountable and bring a championship mentality.”
It seems as though, at least to start, he’ll be doing so with the starters. How long he remains in that role will be just one of many storylines worth monitoring as training camp moves along.
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