Rajon Rondo’s role with the Lakers this season has been far more reduced — emergency injury-related situations aside — than in his first stint with the team, which would generally signify where he is at this stage in his career. Rondo has appeared in just 13 games and, when the team reaches as close to full strength as they have been this season, Rondo more often than not is out of the rotation.
But while some may think that spells the end of Rondo’s career, the veteran guard still sees another half-decade in his career...kind of.
Prior to the Lakers’ game against Boston last week, Rondo sat down with Kyle Goon of the OC Register, and used his patented sense of dry humor when discussing how much longer he expects to play (emphasis mine):
“It’s life. I’m on my last leg here in the league. I think I got another six years, but other than that …”
Still, it sounded like the 35-year-old hopes to see that rivalry spark again. This early in the season, the forecast is still difficult to predict for both teams who are having less-than-ideal starts. But already, Rondo said he’s felt fortunate to have experienced so much already from both sides of the divide.
“It ‘s it’s been an amazing journey in my career,” he said. “To start in Boston, nine years, this is kind of place that raised me and possibly ending my career with the rival, but for me, like there’s been a great journey, a great story and fans have been amazing in both places.”
The Lakers-Celtics rivalry, while always a notable game on the calendar for the two teams each regular season, has lost a lot of its steam with the last playoff series between the two coming over a decade ago. Along with that, Rondo is the only face from that series left in the league, and he’s made stamps on both sides of the rivarly.
The rivalry would need at least another meeting in the NBA Finals — and likely a pair inside a couple of seasons with the same core, akin to the 2008-2010 meetings — to come alive once more. In theory, between Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as well as LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the pieces are in place for that to happen, but the teams need to reach the Finals repeatedly as well.
But the more notable and funnier takeaway is the idea of Rondo staying in the league for six more seasons. While he was clearly joking, there could be an extended run at the end of Rondo’s career as a 15th man on the end of the bench, similar to another familiar face for Lakers fans in Jared Dudley.
Rondo has the well-earned reputation as one of the smartest players in the league and one of the best mentors to young players as well. He could, legitimately, extend his career by a number of seasons if that’s a role he’s willing to take.
Six more seasons, though? That would take him to 22 seasons and the age of 41, which would tie Vince Carter for the most seasons in the NBA all-time. It’s unlikely Rondo would stick around that long, but it’s a fun idea to consider a 41-year-old Rondo running point guard.
Think about how many more moments we could have like this of Rondo with six more seasons in the league.
For now, Lakers fans can settle for a 35-year-old version of him leaving them frustrated from time to time this season.