The Los Angeles Lakers are racking up injuries with nearly the same regularity that James Harden accumulates free-throw attempts. Which is to say that with LeBron James, Rajon Rondo and now Lonzo Ball all dealing with various maladies, the team has produced quite a list of walking — or in some cases, not walking — wounded.
The good news is that the end of the Lakers’ injury woes might be in sight. Luke Walton told reporters on Saturday morning that the team was hoping that both James and Rondo would practice with the team on Sunday (via Dave McMenamin of ESPN):
“We’re hopeful to have both of them,” Walton said. “It will be determined [Sunday]. I don’t know what LeBron is doing today as far as how aggressive his on-court stuff will be. But depending on how he feels later today, tomorrow morning will be dependent on how much he does in the practice we have tomorrow. And Rondo will be pretty much full going tomorrow.”
Rondo being back would be great news for the Lakers, especially given that it’s not yet clear how long Ball will be out, it seems certain enough that he’ll miss an extended stretch that the Lakers plan to call up two-way point guard Alex Caruso.
But while Rondo might be available sooner rather than later, Walton told reporters after the Lakers lost to the Houston Rockets in overtime on Saturday night that the team wouldn’t be rushing Rondo or James back until they’re fully healthy, even if Ball misses longer than the team hopes (via Spectrum Sportsnet):
“We won’t rush (Rondo’s) playing time up at all. We’ve got to make sure, with him and LeBron, that they’re healthy, so when they get back we can keep them.”
That’s probably the smart approach to take, even if it might hurt the Lakers’ record in the short-term a bit. Because of that patience, though, Walton doesn’t think that Rondo and James will suiting up against the Golden State Warriors on Monday (via ESPN):
”Call it ‘hopeful,’” Walton said. “Of course I’m hopeful, but I don’t anticipate, I wouldn’t anticipate either one of them playing Monday.”
At this point, it doesn’t seem safe to anticipate Ball will play either, which might mean Monday’s game against the defending champions could get ugly, quickly. The Lakers have put together some valiant efforts in the absence of James and Rondo, but that had been with Ball, who was playing what some teammates felt was the best basketball of his career. Without him, the team will be without it’s top-three assist-getters and playmakers, and as a result, the offense might get stagnant, fast.
Still, it’s wise that the team is putting James and Rondo making it back and staying in the lineup as their top priority, even if it leads to another rough game or two in the short-term. The Lakers will just will have to hope that “100 percent healthy” for those players comes before L.A. falls out of the playoff race completely.
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