Jeff Chiu/Associated Press
Rondo may be a veteran role player at this stage, but he appeared to have spent his time during quarantine staying ready for whenever the NBA would return. He was spotted in incredible shape prior to the team’s arrival in Orlando, Florida, for training camp recently, which has created some buzz ahead of the Lakers’ return game against the Los Angeles Clippers on July 30.
“I had a source tell me that, within the last week—seeing Rajon Rondo—quote, unquote, ‘He looks like he’s 21 years old again,'” ESPN’s Dave McMenamin said during an appearance on ESPN LA 710. “So there is some positive momentum to this conversation.”
Don’t believe it? Well, check out this video that Rondo shared of one of his intense boxing workouts via Instagram on Friday:
The Lakers lost some guard depth when Avery Bradley opted not to play in Orlando. They consequently signed veteran JR Smith, and they also have Dion Waiters, but having Rondo playing at a top level would be a more than welcome development, especially because Smith and Waiters may not have large roles.
Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are likely to play more with Bradley out, but Rondo could factor into that mix as well with an increased role.
In 48 games this season, Rondo has averaged 7.1 points and 5.0 assists per contest. He’s played a career-low 20.5 minutes per game and has made only three starts. But with Los Angeles likely to be the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference in the playoffs, Rondo could be in position to up his playing time when the postseason arrives as he tries to win his second career NBA title.
Rondo’s only previous NBA championship came at the end of his second season, when he won the title as a 21-year-old with the Boston Celtics in 2007-08. He’s now in his 14th NBA campaign—and his second with the Lakers.
He has been a strong postseason performer in that time. During his most recent trip to the playoffs with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2018, he averaged 10.3 points, 12.2 assists and 7.6 rebounds over nine games.
While LeBron James and Anthony Davis are sure to be the focal points of the Lakers offense this postseason, Rondo might be a larger contributor than he has been during the regular season if he takes his game to another level again in the playoffs.