The Los Angeles Lakers brought back Rajon Rondo this offseason, although his role is more uncertain than it was during the team’s title run in 2020.
So what will Rondo’s minutes look like this season? Well, there is a range of possibilities, according to the 35-year-old veteran guard.
“Coach told me anywhere from 0 to 48,” Rondo told reporters on Thursday, September 30. “We’ll go in between that realm. Regardless of how many minutes, whether I do play or don’t play, I’m grateful to be here. I know I can bring so much more, even if I’m not playing.”
Rondo can still be a contributor on a championship-caliber roster due to his high basketball IQ and ability to run an offense. He appeared in 45 games for the Hawks and Clippers last season, averaging 5.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 17.1 minutes, while shooting 40.4 percent from three-point range.
Rondo averaged 8.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.0 steal in 94 games for the Lakers from 2018-20, coming alive in the playoffs during LA’s title run.
Lakers Have Hinted Rajon Rondo’s Minutes Will Be Limited
The Lakers carried Jared Dudley on the roster the last two seasons as somewhat of a player-coach, utilizing his skills in the locker room and as a leader. Rondo could end up playing a similar role for the Lakers this year, albeit his skill set is a bit more valuable than Dudley’s was.
“Internally, we’ve got some guys,” head coach Frank Vogel told Spectrum SportsNet’s “Lakeshow” podcast when asked about who would fill Dudley’s role. “I think Rondo coming back can be a real positive voice from a guy who’s not going to play as much, but can really impact our team with his leadership.”
What’s clear is that Rondo was missed in the Lakers locker room last season and Rondo missed playing alongside LeBron James, who he heaped praise upon.
“It’s what greatness is all about,” Rondo said of James. “Every team that he’s played on has been to the top of the top. When a guy like that is setting a tone, everyone else has to follow, lock in and try to do the same.”
Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo Setting the Tone for Lakers
While James is the unquestioned leader, expect Rondo and Russell Westbrook to rev up the intensity during practice. Rondo has made it clear that he and his old rival will push each other.
“Russ and I, we’ve been competing for so long,” Rondo told reporters during Tuesday’s media day. “He’s one of the best, ultimate competitors I’ve played with in my career. I love competing against Russ. I know he’s going to bring it every night. I know he’s looking to destroy me. Likewise, I’m looking to destroy him.”
This offseason is very different than the last for the Lakers, who had a historically short break after winning the title. Now reloaded and rested, they are already pushing the pace.
“Last year after coming off the bubble it literally took everything away from you. Any little bit of energy that you had, it was completely gone when we left there,” James said. “To come back into the season with the quick start that we had, kind of the life of the party was a little bit, just like, it was just kind of stale. You know, rightfully so. Guys just didn’t have an opportunity to get a mental break.”
The Lakers open their preseason slate on Oct. 3 against the Brooklyn Nets at home.