The Los Angeles Lakers finished their series against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday, and it only took them five games to do it. However, as impressive as it was for the Lakers to win the series in five games, it was even more impressive that they did it while staying relatively healthy.
Barring an injury in practice, the Lakers are only expected to have one name on their injury report in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals: Rajon Rondo, who suffered a fractured right thumb in July and underwent surgery to repair it the same week (and has been plagued by back spasms since returning to the NBA bubble). But even Rondo might be available for Game 1 of the Lakers’ next series if Frank Vogel’s latest update on the former NBA champion is anything to go on.
“He did practice today, did look good,” Vogel said after practice on Monday, noting that the Lakers wouldn’t give an official status update until their next game was scheduled.
“But he looked good today. We’re hopeful to have him in this series,” Vogel said.
For a while, it looked like Rondo would be making his Orlando bubble debut against the Portland Trail Blazers — a team he helped the New Orleans Pelicans upset in 2018 — but Rondo was downgraded from questionable to doubtful due to back spasms. Prior to that, Rondo has been fully cleared to resume basketball activities.
It will be interesting to see where Rondo fits into Vogel’s guard rotation when he does return. In the first-round, three guards averaged more than 20 minutes per game for the Lakers: the starting backcourt of Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Alex Caruso. Rondo averaged 20.5 minutes per game, so in order for him to get anywhere near that, someone will have to lose minutes.
Vogel could also give Rondo the minutes that J.R. Smith has been getting in Rondo’s absence, but given how highly Vogel’s spoken of Rondo, it’s safe to assume he’ll have a bigger role. Smith has averaged 13.4 minutes per game in the playoffs.
As noted before, an update on Rondo’s status will be given closer to the day Game 1 is played. The Lakers will know who they’re going to play in the second round by Thursday at the latest, or by the end of the night if the Rockets finish off the Thunder this evening.