The Lakers haven’t exactly had an easy go of it over the last week. Three separate players have missed games due to injury as the team has lost three straight, and something intangible seems afoot with the group’s chemistry.
Fortunately for the Lakers, one of their veteran leaders could be on his way back soon. Rajon Rondo, who fractured his thumb about four weeks ago, could be back in the bubble by the first round of the playoffs, per reporting from Chris Haynes on the TNT broadcast of the Lakers/Pacers game.
“Rajon Rondo arrived in Orlando this week, but he is outside the bubble. He is working diligently to get back. Sources have told me that the Lakers are hopeful that if Rondo continues rehab without any setbacks that he will possibly be able to re-enter the bubble at some point in the first round of the playoffs. As for now, sources say he is working out with Kurt Rambis, the Lakers’ senior basketball advisor.”
There are a few important details Haynes brings up, starting with the timeline. Rondo was expected to be out for 6-8 weeks, and the start of the first round of the playoffs would be about five weeks from Rondo’s injury date. This report merely suggests that Rondo could be back by then if his rehab continues in a positive direction. Even then, it is unclear if Rondo would be available to play then, or if he would just be back in the bubble, and further subject to a four-day quarantine.
The second key piece of information is that Rondo is working out with Kurt Rambis while he recovers. It was reasonable to wonder why Rondo was away from the team while he was rehabbing, but the Lakers have a limited travel party inside of the bubble, and team staff members are already performing multiple tasks. It’s possible that the Lakers didn’t have anyone available to dedicate to Rondo’s rehab and thought it more beneficial to give him individualized attention outside of the bubble, in this case, from Rambis.
It remains to be seen what Rondo can actually contribute to the team once he is back, and it’s no secret that we have been skeptical of Rondo’s production despite the favor he curries with LeBron James and the coaching staff. However, it is undeniable that the players love Rondo, and a team that is going through the motions right now probably could use his presence, even if it’s just another voice in the locker room.