Barring any setbacks, Rajon Rondo will be available for the Los Angeles Lakers when they play Game 1 of their second-round series on Friday, Frank Vogel revealed after practice on Wednesday.
“Rondo has practiced both times this week,” Vogel said. “We’re gonna continue to see how he’s feeling after this work, but we’re hopeful to have him in uniform and in the rotation on Friday.”
Vogel had hoped to get Rondo some playing time in the first round, but shortly after Rondo was medically cleared to play from his thumb surgery, he started experiencing back spasms. Rondo has yet to make an appearance in the Orlando bubble, which means he hasn’t played against another team since March 10, almost six months ago.
“It’s going to take a little bit for him to try and get into game rhythm,” Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said of Rondo. “This is the part where you do so much in practice, as far as just scrimmaging, but it’s different from the games. I feel like he’s going to get there in probably one or two games, maybe.
“But he’s showing signs of who he is. He’s just picking up everything that we have since he’s been gone and he’s learning quickly.”
Fortunately for Rondo, his game hasn’t dictated by his physical tools for several years now. Rondo’s biggest strength is his ability to lead a team, and according to Caldwell-Pope, he’s picked up right where he left off in the few times he’s practiced.
“He’s been good,” Caldwell-Pope said. “He’s been communicating a lot, which he always does. You know, he’s a great leader beside a lot of the team leaders we have. Like, just being on the court with him, he just gets everybody in the position. He’s the floor general. When he’s out there, he’s always talking, trying to put people in position. Him just being out here and having him in here is a great push.”
The biggest question for Vogel is how much he can afford to play Rondo in the second round. Whether the Lakers draw the Houston Rockets or Oklahoma City Thunder, they’ll see a handful of skilled offensive guards, including, but not limited to, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Chris Paul. If Rondo couldn’t keep up with opposing guards when he was healthy, isn’t it a risk to put him in games now?
Only time will tell, and it seems we won’t have to wait long to find out, for better or for worse.