The Los Angeles Lakers will still be without two of their injured contributors when they host the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday night, as head coach Frank Vogel told reporters at shootaround that Rajon Rondo is still recovering from his calf injury, while Kyle Kuzma is continuing to get better, but still not back to fully-participating in practice yet:
Rajon Rondo is out tonight again against Charlotte. Frank Vogel said he's still feeling discomfort.— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) October 27, 2019
Rajon Rondo underwent a precautionary MRI Saturday which confirmed a mild strain of his right calf, per the Lakers. He remains day to day. He participated in ball handling drills after shootaround today.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) October 27, 2019
Following an MRI, the Lakers changed their designation on Rajon Rondo from sore calf to mild calf strain. He’s out for tonight but we did see him doing some drills after practice.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) October 27, 2019
Kyle Kuzma did more four on four today. He said he did about 10 minutes the other day and 25 today. Unclear how close he is to five on five, but he’s been reacting well.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) October 27, 2019
Kuzma had already been ruled out for Sunday, so this is mostly good news for the team that he’s still taking steps back towards the court after the most recent positive update on Friday. When he comes back he’ll give the Lakers’ some secondary scoring punch they could really use, but until then, expect Jared Dudley to continue to get the bulk of the minutes as the backup four.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear how much Rondo’s absence is even hampering the Lakers. He, Vogel and LeBron James have all been outspoken about their feeling that Rondo can help, but the team did seem to find some Rondo-less solutions to their ballhandling woes on Friday, including having Davis initiate the offense a little higher and playing Alex Caruso as part of a small lineup that had success. Those are solutions that, it should be noted, come without Rondo’s unreliable-at-best defense and habit of cramping the floor spacing for the offense.
We’ll see how the team does moving forward, but with Rondo out of the lineup, look for Caruso, Quinn Cook and the recently resurgent Troy Daniels to continue to attempt to make arguments with their play for why they should be getting the majority of the rotation minutes moving forward, and to see if the Lakers can establish something good in Rondo’s absence.
If there is even a shadow of a doubt that those guys are the best options when Rondo is cleared, though, expect him to play a significant role when he does return.