The Lakers have been without Rajon Rondo for the first eight games of this 2019-20 season, but it appears that Rondo is going to be back Sunday against the Toronto Raptors, reports Chris Haynes/Yahoo Sports.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) November 9, 2019
Rajon Rondo signed to the Lakers for the first time prior to the 2018-19 season. He was brought in for his potential mentorship to Lonzo Ball and the other young Lakers players, as well as potentially being the floor general when LeBron James was off the floor. Rondo has always been known for his strong basketball IQ, with Rob Pelinka, Magic Johnson, and LeBron hoping that that IQ would rub off on the other players. The Lakers felt they needed everything Rondo brought to the table for the next two seasons as well, as they signed him to a 2-year (player option on second year) deal in the 2019 offseason.
The 2018-19 season for Rondo was slightly disappointing, to say the least. He averaged 9.2 points (40.5% on field goals), eight assists, and 1.2 steals per game, with a Net Rating of -8.6 (104.7 ORTG 113.3 DRTG). He also didn’t mesh well with LeBron on the court, producing a -5.4 Net Rating when the two were together on the floor.
Most Lakers will greet this news with a sigh, as the Lakers have done very well without him so far on the season, currently with a 7-1 record and the best Net Rating of any team in the NBA.
However, Rajon Rondo might end up making a very positive impact on the Los Angeles Lakers with this roster. Other than LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the team has been lacking a third shot-creator, especially with Kyle Kuzma missing the first five games of the season. The team hopes that Kuzma will fill that void on offense, as the team has looked sloppy at times with either both, or one of the duo of LeBron and AD not on the floor. Kuzma has slowly been brought back in the fold and has looked rusty at most times when on the floor.
Rondo may experience the same type of rust, but he can definitely be a good floor general and shot-creator with a possible bench unit (although Frank Vogel has stated that he wants to play Rondo 25-30 minutes). Rondo may not shoot well from the field as his shot as always been less-than-desired, but he can dissect the defense in a PnR with the best of them, and could really do some damage with JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard in a PnR, with Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, or Quinn Cook being behind the three-point line.
Now, of course, Rondo does present spacing and defensive problems, as his three-point shot is never respected while his defense has been extremely bad in the past few years. His defense shouldn’t be noticed as much this year, as the entire Lakers boast one of the best team defenses in the league, currently ranking first in DRTG. His spacing will be a problem though, and he should probably be surrounded by four shooters at all times, which means Anthony Davis being on the court with him at all times would probably be best.
Head coach Frank Vogel is definitely presented with a new, possibly troublesome wrinkle in the way he handles his rotations. Another question will be when (and if) Rondo ends up in the starting lineup in place of Avery Bradley. Bradley has faired pretty well in the starting role, and is 1000 times better than Rondo when it comes to three-point shooting and defense.
We’ll see how Rondo does in his first on-court action tomorrow, as the Lakers will take the Raptors on at 6:30 p.m. PST.