The Los Angeles Lakers lead the Western Conference standings as teams head into the NBA restart, and they’ll have to adjust the planning yet again. Late Sunday, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and Malika Andrews were first to report that guard Rajon Rondo suffered a ‘significant’ hand injury during practice.
The Lakers subsequently announced Rondo had fractured his right thumb and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks following surgery, which will take place later in the week.
Lakers guard Rajon Rondo suffered a "significant" hand injury during practice on Sunday evening, sources told me and @malika_andrews. Rondo, 34, underwent medical evaluation on his hand and thumb, sources said, and the severity of the injury should be known Monday morning
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 13, 2020
Rondo has been a key backup during his second season with the Lakers, who signed him shortly after adding LeBron James to the roster in July 2018. James typically functions as the Lakers’ point guard with the starting unit, but Rondo frequently took on the role while James rested or while both veterans were on the floor together.
Rondo is averaging 7.1 points, 5.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 48 appearances this season, including three starts. He has been a regular presence on the floor late in close games, with coach Frank Vogel trusting his veteran leadership and playmaking.
In a Monday video conference call, Vogel expressed confidence Rondo would return to serve as a “major factor” during the playoffs: “What we have to understand about Rajon, losing Rajon is a huge loss for our team, but we expect Rajon to be a part of our playoff run.”
Rondo is seeking his second NBA championship after winning with Boston in 2008, but he has a lengthy history of hand injuries.
He broke his right thumb during the playoffs with the Chicago Bulls in 2017, and was sidelined for a month with a broken bone in his right hand last season. He also broke his left hand in 2014.
Rondo should be able to return if the Lakers advance deep into the NBA playoffs in Orlando, but his injury adds to the Western Conference leaders’ depth concerns. Los Angeles already is without starting guard Avery Bradley, who declined to participate in the league’s restart after a long hiatus due to the coronavirus.
Alex Caruso and Quinn Cook are likely to get more playing time at point guard in Rondo’s absence.
Dwight Howard and Danny Green were in practice with the Lakers on Sunday night after coronavirus testing glitches forced them to miss Saturday’s workout, Vogel said.
“It’s never a good sign when some of your players get hurt — especially one of your leaders,” Green said Monday.
“We need him to come off the bench and give us a little spark. But I know he’ll be on the sideline for us, coaching his ass off, teaching us and letting the young guys know … what he sees and what adjustments we need to make.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.