Having gone 5-9 without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, the Los Angeles Lakers remain hopeful the veteran point guard will return Thursday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. After suggesting earlier in the week it was a possibility, head coach Luke Walton said Rondo remains a game-time decision.
“He looked good again today,” Walton said after shootaround. “It’s going to come down to him, if he feels confident enough to get out there and trusts his hand. But he looks good. End of the night, it will be his decision.
“He’s been cleared to play, so now it’s about him feeling confident and comfortable on the court. He’s looked good the last couple days. We would love to have him back but it’s one of those things that you’ve got to be able to trust your body while you’re out there playing.”
Should Rondo return, Walton said he would likely start and not be under a minutes restriction. “The minutes restriction will be dependent on how he plays defense,” Walton added.
Rondo has been out since suffering a Grade 3 sprain of his right ring finger on Christmas Day. It initially flew under the radar as that was the same game James sustained his strained groin. Whereas James didn’t return after exiting in the third quarter, Rondo helped lead the Lakers to a blowout win.
Residual pain and an inability to handle the basketball as he normally would led to Rondo opting for surgery to repair a damaged ligament in the sprained finger on Dec. 28. He was projected to miss four to five weeks while recovering.
Rondo was cleared over the weekend to participate in full-contact practice, which led to playing in scrimmages with teammates and Lakers assistant coaches and staff members.
Rondo’s return, whether Thursday or Sunday, comes at a particularly opportune time as the Lakers lost Lonzo Ball to a Grade 3 sprained left ankle. The second-year point guard is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks, meaning he will be sidelined until after the All-Star break.
A suspension and November operation to repair a fracture in his right hand has limited Rondo to just 14 games in his first season with the Lakers. He’s averaging 8.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists.
Reminder: Vivid Seats is the Official Ticket Reseller of LakersNation.com. New Customers use “LAKERSNATION” (all CAPS) in the Vivid Seats App on your phone and get 10% off any Lakers home game ticket order for the remainder of the season.