The Los Angeles Lakers were in their second practice inside the NBA bubble when Rajon Rondo sustained a fractured right thumb that required surgery. He left the team and had the operation on July 16, and was projected to be sidelined six to eight weeks.
However, Rondo is ahead of schedule. He re-entered the bubble last week to begin a four-day quarantine phase, and joined the team on the court for practice Monday. “He’s medically cleared to play,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said.
“It’s just a matter of this is the first time he played basketball with anyone other than himself since he injured his hand. We’ll just take it day to day, see how he continues to progress with his conditioning, rhythm and timing, and how his hand is responding to the added work.”
Vogel added it was “unlikely” Rondo plays Tuesday in Game 1 against the Portland Trail Blazers. “Don’t know yet if he’ll be active,” Vogel said. The Lakers officially listed him as doubtful.
Rondo’s initial timetable put him on track to return at the end of the first round in a best-case scenario. While it remains unclear when the veteran point guard will suit up, Rondo’s presence already was felt in practice.
“The juice was different in the gym, that’s for sure,” Vogel said. “That’s what Rondo brings. I always joke his impact is measured in swag. We felt it in all of our coaches meetings. He’s been like an assistant coach for us the last four, five, six weeks.
“But to have him back around his teammates in the film session and in the gym, it just gave everybody a lift.”
Prior to entering the bubble for his quarantine period, Rondo was completing individual workouts under the watch of Lakers special advisor Kurt Rambis. Vogel quipped they were basketball’s version of the “odd couple.”
Rondo expected to contribute regardless of role
Speaking after practice on Sunday, Anthony Davis did not sound convinced Rondo would be with the Lakers on the court during the first round, but he took comfort in still having him physically present.
“Rondo was huge for us. He was able to break down their offense and defensive schemes, and kind of lead guys on the floor during that series,” Davis said of Rondo’s impact when the two helped the New Orleans Pelicans upset the Trail Blazers in the 2018 Playoffs.
“He was a big part of it. He’s not going to be on the floor with us but he’ll be there helping us out, so that’s a good sign.”
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