When the Los Angeles Lakers signed Rajon Rondo, it was under the pretense he would receive an opportunity to compete with Lonzo Ball for the starting point guard role. The job wound up going to Rondo, in some part because Ball was slow to recover from knee surgery.
But the veteran point guard was suspended for his role in a fight with Chris Paul during the second game of the season. Rondo from the three-game ban as the backup to Ball. He then suffered separate hand injuries that cost him 31 of the next 34 games.
With Ball recovering from a sprained left ankle, Rondo started seven consecutive games upon returning from a second hand surgery. But he was again moved to the bench in the wake of the Lakers trading for Reggie Bullock.
Rondo returned to the lineup Wednesday night and was a catalyst in the Lakers avenging a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. It was somewhat surprising, considering Rondo struggled of late.
“We needed to win. Rondo’s won championships, he’s an NBA champion. It was, ‘Let’s get him on the court and see what happens,'” Lakers head coach Luke Walton explained. “I’m very confident in what Rondo has done in this league. He’s struggled a little bit, but some of that is on me. His minutes had been down.
“He’s proven over his career when he gets an opportunity, he shows up to play. Me and him had a long talk when we got back from the road trip. We brought him in as a championship point guard. We need to start winning games, and he’s someone I feel totally confident with giving that opportunity to help lead us.”
Walton couldn’t recall who initiated the conversation, but believed he approached Rondo. Regardless, Walton considered it productive. “He’s been fine with his role. He wants to play more, everyone wants to play more. But he hasn’t been complaining or anything like that,” he said.
“Our conversation was one of, ‘Let’s talk about what we need to do. How do we get back on track?’ It was an honest conversation. It was healthy and positive.”
Rondo responded with 11 points, seven rebounds and a season-high 16 assists against his former team.
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