When the Los Angeles Lakers signed Rajon Rondo in free agency, it immediately led to questions over whether he or Lonzo Ball would serve as the team’s starting point guard. Ball’s offseason knee surgery and subsequent recovery made the decision an easy one.
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Once Ball returned in late stages of the preseason and with his play into the regular season, it re-ignited the conversation. However, he continued to come off the bench and played under a minutes restriction.
The situation was then flipped on its head when Rondo was suspended three games due to his role in a fight with Chris Paul. It forced Ball into the starting lineup and the minutes restriction to be lifted.
He’s responded with three straight stat-sheet-stuffing performances. Now, Lakers head coach Luke Walton faces a difficult situation as Rondo is eligible to return Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs.
“I’ll go home and watch the tape, get on the plane tomorrow and talk with my coaches,” Walton said when asked if he had an idea on which point guard would start. “Up to right now, everything was about what we have for today. We’ll evaluate everything and talk more about that.”
Ball was among the Lakers who was sluggish in the early going against the Denver Nuggets, though Walton ultimately credited him for helping turn the tide against what was one of the NBA’s four remaining undefeated teams.
“I told him in front of the whole team, I thought he was kind of out there but not really involved. Then he started picking up Murray full court and he turned him over one time and laid it up,” Walton said. ”
I thought that got him and our team going a little bit. From that point on, on defense he was causing havoc. Getting his hands on balls, reading plays, coming in and rebounding. He’s a big-time game-changer for us when he’s playing aggressive like that.”
Ball finished with 12 points, 6 rebounds, and season-highs 8 assists and 5 steals.