After the Los Angeles Lakers selected Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson touted him as the point guard who would usher the franchise into a new era.
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Ball fit the pass-first vision Johnson and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka had for the team. His rookie season was generally a success, but Ball suffered from multiple injuries and lacked a mentor.
The front office addressed that void by signing Rajon Rondo in free agency. However, he also brought with him a career full of serving as a starting point guard. The issue was mitigated by Ball’s recovery from offseason knee surgery, then Rondo’s suspension.
Now both players are active, and Lakers head coach Luke Walton is tasked with a decision. He opted to keep Ball in the lineup over the weekend, but what direction he’ll go ahead with is unclear.
Rondo previously said he wasn’t concerned about starting, and Ball recently echoed a similar sentiment. “It doesn’t really matter,” he said. “As long as we win games, that’s all I care about. Whoever starts is whoever starts. We’re both going to play.”
Whether a coincidence or not, Ball had one of his worst nights of the young season when Rondo returned from his suspension. The second-year guard finished with six points on just 2-for-8 shooting, 3 assists and 2 rebounds.
Ball played nearly 27 minutes, to 29 for Rondo. They shared the court down the stretch of the loss to the Spurs, though it left plenty to be desired.
While Walton has not specified who he will keep in the lineup, he acknowledged a preference to keep LeBron James and Rondo leading separate units so at least one would be on the court at all times.