Although the Los Angeles Lakers ended their seeding game schedule on a lackluster note, they were able to get several bench players extended minutes in hopes they will be ready if they are called upon during the playoffs.
Los Angeles has dealt with nagging injuries to multiple players, including Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. They also suffered a loss with Rajon Rondo, who has been out due to a fractured thumb.
Rondo was the clear leader for the second unit and his ability to bring the ball up the court and organize the Lakers in the half-court was sorely missed in most games.
Since undergoing surgery, the point guard has been rehabbing and recently arrived in Orlando and began training with Lakers special advisor Kurt Rambis. However, head coach Frank Vogel announced Rondo entered the NBA bubble Thursday night.
“He’ll be quarantined for four days,” Vogel added.
Rondo will need to undergo the league’s mandated quarantine period, but will then be able to join the team, assuming he passes his coronavirus (COVID-19) tests. When asked about any potential assignments for the veteran, Vogel seemed to like the thought of having him on the sidelines. “Not yet, but you just gave me an idea,” Vogel said.
“I’m sure we’ll come up with something creative, but nothing yet. Just to be an honorary assistant coach like he’s been for the last four weeks in all our meetings.”
The 34-year-old has long been touted as one of the smartest players in the NBA, and his basketball IQ is a boon for this Lakers squad. Rondo was often seen on the bench this season barking out instructions of talking to teammates, and that is definitely something he can do while he remains out.
However, Rondo’s arrival to the bubble is also a welcomed sign for matters on the court as it puts him on track to play at some point in the playoffs.
Frank Vogel reflects on regular season
After finishing up their last seeding game of the bubble, the Lakers officially finished the season with a 52-19 record and came away with the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
It is an accomplishment for a team who most doubted in the offseason due to their lack of history together and questionable fits on the roster. LeBron James was able to turn back the clock and proved he had plenty left in the thank while Anthony Davis reaffirmed he is one of the most dominant two-way forces in the game.
“We’ve been through a lot this year, but really all of it is just a buildup to us,” Vogel said. “Whether we finish one, two, three, doesn’t really matters. It just matters what we’ve been able to build from a habits and performance standpoint going into the playoffs. We’re here, we’re excited about it and confident in what we can accomplish.”
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