Sacrifice has been a common word thrown around by the Lakers new veterans as they join the franchise this summer. With so many new players joining the fold, concerns about playing time have been curbed with each new veteran mentioning a willingness to take a back seat in order to win a title.
Those questions arose to some degree again this week with the signing of Rajon Rondo. In his last season with the Lakers, Rondo was certainly an active member of the rotation, averaging 20.5 minutes per game in the regular season and 24.7 minutes per contest in the playoffs.
With a new roster full of capable guards and ballhandlers with the most notable and obvious being Russell Westbrook, Rondo’s perceived role in his return to the Lakers would be far more diminished, perhaps even non-existent on the court. On Tuesday, Rondo helped quell any worries by acknowledging that his role will be different this season and addressing the likelihood of him not seeing time on the court in an interview on Mason and Ireland on ESPN LA 710.
“Yes, they have talked to me about roles with this team and what they’re looking for bringing to this team this year vs. the past couple seasons... Just being ready when my number is called. Obviously, we have a lot of depth at the point guard position. Understanding that I’m not going to play as much as I would like or possibly want to, but at the same time being a mentor for young guys like (Kendrick) Nunn, helping Westbrook in any way possible, (Talen Horton-Tucker), and just doing what I do best: Being a key locker room guy.”
Few players in the league have the basketball IQ of Rondo, making him a valuable commodity to any team. He’s also a well-respected veteran and teammate, particularly with these Lakers as evidenced by Frank Vogel, LeBron James and Anthony Davis all recruiting him for a return to the franchise this summer.
For these Lakers, those two aspects will be equally valuable. Jared Dudley’s departure from the franchise left a notable hole in the locker room that Rondo seems willing and is certainly able to fill. On the court, it alleviates any issues that would arise with playing time as well. With the Lakers already having a gluttony of guards, Rondo would have furthered the problem of finding minutes for all of them despite his skillset being one the Lakers do not currently have in the projected rotation.
For now, he appears prepared to step back out of the spotlight and mentor some of those guards, younger and old, this season, which is a good sign for the Lakers on and off the court.