The Los Angeles Lakers are already looking to replace the services of Avery Bradley, and will be missing another veteran presence in their guard rotation after Rajon Rondo suffered a fractured right thumb in practice.
News broke Sunday night that Rondo had suffered the injury in practice inside of the bubble, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
“Lakers guard Rajon Rondo suffered a ‘significant’ hand injury during practice on Sunday evening, sources told me and [Malika Andrews]. Rondo, 34, underwent medical evaluation on his hand and thumb, sources said, and the severity of the injury should be known Monday morning.”
Lakers reporter Mike Trudell quickly followed up the report with more clarity, saying that Rondo sustained a fracture to his right thumb and will undergo surgery to repair the fracture this week. He is expected to return to full basketball activities in 6 to 8 weeks, per Trudell.
The Lakers start play on July 30 and the first round of the playoffs will begin on Aug. 17. It’s conceivable Rondo would be able to return for the latter rounds, if the Lakers make it that far.
Rajon Rondo Has Hand Injury History
There’s been no news from the Lakers camp following the report, but Rondo’s former teammate Josh Hart reacted on Twitter.
“Damn man,” Hart wrote. “Hope he gets back ASAP. One of the best vets I had.’
Rondo has had hand injuries in the past and missed time this season with an injured finger. Injury analyst Jeff Stotts broke down Rondo’s hand history on Twitter.
Rajon Rondo Provided Veteran Presence for Lakers
Rondo was going to be a key cog for the Lakers in Orlando as the team seeks the franchise’s 17th NBA championship. He has averaged 20.5 minutes per game this season — the lowest of his career. However, he’s found a way to be a contributor with 7.1 points, five assists and three rebounds per game. But with Bradley sitting out as the season kicks back into gear to stay back at home with his family, Rondo could find himself in a slightly bigger role.
“He’s a savvy vet,” Vogel said of Rondo during the season. “He’s someone thats going to rise to the occasion. Guys in their 30s, 82 games, they’re going to have some nights when you don’t look as spry as you did when you were early in your 20s, but when it matters, he’s gonna be there for us.”
Rondo has drawn praise for staying in shape over the NBA haitus, becoming the embodiment of his “playoff Rondo” persona. McMenamin recently spoke on the shape Rondo is in while on Mason & Ireland.
“If we want to keep going with this hype machine, I had a source tell me that, within the last week — seeing Rajon Rondo — quote, unquote, “He looks like he’s 21 years old again. So, there is some positive momentum to this conversation.”
Lakers Have to Figure Out Guard Rotation
If Rondo and Bradley are both not in action in Orlando, it would mean the Lakers have nearly 45 minutes in the rotation to replace. JR Smith and Dion Waiters are the newest additions to the lineup, but neither has played a game yet for the Lakers. Head coach Frank Vogel has said that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be relied on to replace some key minutes and will likely slide into the starting lineup.
“KCP has been one of the brightest parts of the season. He had a terrific stretch there particularly that time where Avery was out,” Vogel said during a press conference on Monday, per Mike Trudell.
Vogel is also confident the additions of Smith and Waiters will help the Lakers cause.
“Watching him workout yesterday and today, it’s clear that he’s done a remarkable job of staying in shape and ready,” Vogel of Smith, who won an NBA title with LeBron James in Cleveland in 2016. “Hey, his nickname is ‘Swish’ for a reason. He’s a shotmaker. I think he’s really gonna help us.”