Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported late on Friday night that Rajon Rondo was planning to play his first game of the season for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Toronto Raptors, but Haynes reported on Saturday night that things have since changed, and that Rondo is now no longer targeting Sunday as his debut:
Sources: Rondo was aiming for a return on Sunday, but he will instead partake in a workout session with a few bodies to ramp up his endurance. https://t.co/H37kFA9Cng— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) November 10, 2019
Earlier in the day, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times reported that Rondo had gone through a workout and his availability would depend on how he responded to it:
Rajon Rondo did some full court five on five work today at the Lakers facility. Wasn’t an official practice, but this was the final hurdle to clear before being able to play. Tomorrow’s availability will depend on how his body reacts. https://t.co/nki5p6nrDC— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) November 10, 2019
Evidently Rondo did not respond as well as he or the team would like, and so what the team is calling a "mid right calf strain" will cost Rondo another game.
How does that affect the Lakers? It depends on who you ask. After their season-opening loss to the LA Clippers, the Lakers appeared to sorely need another playmaker to deal with ball pressure and create for others so that the sole burden for doing so didn't rest with LeBron James.
Since then, the Lakers have won their next seven games in a row heading into Sunday, and while there have been times it appeared the team could still use another ballhandler on the floor, they have mostly figured out ways to deal with that problem. Does that make the downsides of playing Rondo (his at times inattentive defense, his lack of gravity, etc.) bigger than the aid he could potentially provide as another creator and veteran floor general? That's a question that will complicate an already crowded rotation for Frank Vogel, and one he'll ultimately have to find a satisfactory answer to.
But regardless of where one lands in the debate on how much or if Rondo can be effective for this ballhandling-bereft roster, and irrespective of whether the Lakers actually have a role for him or not, given that the team has started out 7-1 without Rondo, there would seem to be little sense in rushing him back.
Someday we'll get answers on if Rondo can help this team. That day just won't be Sunday.