Rajon Rondo was originally supposed to be day-to-day with a sprained finger, but on Friday we got word the 32-year-old needed surgery to repair the Grade 3 sprain. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Rondo will now miss a month as he recovers. This is an absolutely devastating blow to the Los Angeles Lakers.
So far this season, Rondo has missed time due to a suspension, a hand injury, and now this finger sprain. It hasn’t been the smoothest transition to LA for him. He’s only played in 14 games this year.
While Rondo isn’t the most talented player on the Lakers’ roster, he is a leader and has been one of the team’s most effective players when he’s actually seen the floor. The Lakers have been much better when he’s been available. Since October 31, they are 8-2 when he plays. He’s currently averaging 8.4 points, 6.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds in 24.4 minutes per game.
On Thursday night the Lakers’ young core appeared to be running the Sacramento Kings out of their own building. Then reality hit and they surrendered a 15-point lead, losing on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Bogdan Bogdanovic. That collapse had to be terrible for team morale, especially after so many great performances over the first 40-ish minutes of the game.
Lonzo Ball finished the Kings game with 20 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds in 37 minutes. Kyle Kuzma had 33 points, nine rebounds and four assists in 40 minutes and Brandon Ingram poured in 22 points in 38 minutes. Unfortunately, Ball suffered calf cramps late in the game and had to be pulled, while Kuzma and Ingram combined for 11 turnovers and struggled defensively down the stretch.
With Rondo out a month and James day-to-day, the Lakers need the young guys to step up. Ball and Ingram will likely take over most of the ball-handling responsibility, which means they’ll also be called upon to make things happen on offense.
When the Lakers have struggled offensively this year, Rondo has been able to make things happen. He has the ability to create plays when everything breaks down on offense. Ball, Ingram and Kuzma now have to prove they can do the same.
Rondo’s extended absence could prove to be a good thing for the young Lakers, but in the short-term it’s a really tough blow to a team that desperately needs on-court leadership.
That young Lakers core we’ve heard so much about needs to grow up in a hurry.