Rajon Rondo

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Anderson, Warren, Kings

Despite fracturing his hand last week, Rajon Rondo continues to help the Lakers progress through their tumultuous start to the 2018/19 season on the sidelines. His veteran leadership, locker room mentality and 13 years of experience have positively impacted several players, particularly the team’s group of younger talent.

“My whole life I ain’t never played with someone like him, or LeBron,” teammate Lonzo Ball said of Rondo, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “It’s new to me to just try and follow in their footsteps in a way, just because you can see them get the most out of everybody and the practices are way better than they were last year because they are always challenging people.

“I mean, he’s the best leader that I’ve ever played with — between him and LeBron.”

Rondo was at the Lakers’ practice facility the morning after fracturing his hand, according to Youngmisuk, instructing teammates and being present for guidance when needed. It’s those kinds of traits that helped him win a championship with the Celtics in 2008, and it’s exactly why the Lakers value his services so much.

“Rondo’s a natural leader,” LeBron James said. “I think he just was brought into this world to lead.”

Rondo underwent surgery on Thursday and is expected to miss 4-5 weeks. He’s averaged 8.5 points, 6.5 assists and 25.3 minutes in 11 contests this season, playing most of his games off the bench.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Ryan Anderson has found comfort in his new role with the Suns, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. “When I was first starting off like some of these guys,” Anderson said, “I was ready when my name was called, and I performed and that’s what led to me getting more minutes and I was eventually starting. Those are moments that coaches really notice. If I can bring that out of a guy, I can help work after practice, that’s more important than me playing 10 minutes in a game.”
  • TJ Warren‘s efforts to improve his three-point shooting have paid off this season, Cody Cunningham of NBA.com writes. Warren has connected on 46% of his threes through 14 games. “It’s a testament to the work I put in,” he said. “I really wanted to lock-in and really focus on it. Seeing where the league is going, just wanted to challenge myself and prove to myself that if I put my mind to it, I can do it.”
  • The Kings‘ improving culture is a noteworthy change this season, Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee relays. “Winning begins with culture and character matters,” general manager Vlade Divac said. Sacramento has started the 2018/19 season with an 8-8 record.

Rajon Rondo Out 4-5 Weeks With Broken Hand

NOVEMBER 16, 8:12pm: Rondo underwent surgery on Friday, according to a team press release. His revised timetable is 4-5 weeks.

NOVEMBER 15, 2:22pm: Rondo will undergo surgery on his right hand within the next 24 hours, per the Lakers (Twitter link via Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times). Rondo’s recovery timetable is still about three to five weeks, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

NOVEMBER 15, 8:23am: LeBron James and the Lakers played perhaps their best game of the season on Wednesday night, dispatching the Trail Blazers as James passed Wilt Chamberlain to become the NBA’s fifth all-time leading scorer. However, the win was marred by an injury to one of the team’s key players.

As head coach Luke Walton confirmed after the game, point guard Rajon Rondo broke his right hand while attempting to make a steal in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ win, fracturing the third metacarpal in his hand (link via Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com).

According to Ohm Youngmisuk and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com, Rondo will see a specialist on Thursday to determine whether or not surgery will be necessary. For now, the Lakers are operating under the assumption that the veteran guard will miss about three to five weeks, per the ESPN duo.

“It’s tough,” James said of Rondo’s injury. “He’s one of our captains, one of our leaders. I heard we got great surgeons here in L.A., so get right to it, start his rehab as fast as possible, get going. Next man up. Next man up. I know Rondo hates the fact of what he’s going through right now, but we all have to pick him up in his absence.”

With Rondo sidelined, Lonzo Ball will continue to handle starting duties, but the backup minutes may be up for grabs. Lance Stephenson and Brandon Ingram aren’t really point guards, but they may assume increased ball-handling duties. Two-way player Alex Caruso could also be an option.

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Suns, Cauley-Stein, Bell

Lonzo Ball was once again named the Lakers‘ starting point guard on Saturday against the Spurs, but that doesn’t mean his status in the role will be permanent. Rajon Rondo made a solid return to the lineup after being suspended for three games, scoring 12 points and dishing five assists in 29 minutes. Ball struggled in his first start and shot 2-8 from the floor.

“I didn’t play well tonight,” Ball admitted, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. “Bad game. I’m human. I don’t play good every game.”

Both Ball and Rondo share similar playstyles, looking to play in transition and make their teammates better. They both struggle shooting from deep and prefer to attack the basket for points. The major difference lies in experience, where Rondo holds 11 more NBA seasons of playing time.

“Doesn’t matter who starts. They are both fine either way,” head coach Walton said. “They just want to win, is what they told me. They know that the decision is made by the coaching staff and they support each other and whatever it is they’ll go out and do their job.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns have a promising young core featuring Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and Deandre Ayton, but the organization still has a ways to go before reaching true success, writes Gina Mizell of The Athletic. “Teams don’t just overnight become championship organizations or great playoff teams,” Suns forward Ryan Anderson said. “It takes time to build. You have to allow some time for that, but you can’t really make an excuse for not playing hard.”
  • Willie Cauley-Stein has so far backed up his talk about getting paid next summer, James Ham of NBC Sports writes. Cauley-Stein has averaged an impressive 16.5 points and eight rebounds in six games for the Kings this season.
  • The Mercury News’ Logan Murdock details how Jordan Bell plans to work himself back into the Warriors’ rotation. The 23-year-old has seen limited time behind starting center Damian Jones in the team’s first six games. “It felt good to be out there,” Bell said. “It sucks when you’re watching the team do damage and you know you can help. But you got to understand how to be a pro and just realize some matchups aren’t right.”

Lonzo Ball To Remain Starter Over Rondo

According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, the Lakers will keep Lonzo Ball in the starting lineup – where he has excelled during the suspension of Rajon Rondo – when Rondo returns from his three-game absence this evening against the Spurs.

The Lakers, who were 0-2 in Rondo’s starts to begin the season, went 2-1 in Rondo’s absence with Ball averaging 12.7 points on 53.6 percent shooting (40 percent from 3), 7.3 assists, 7.0 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game.

Meanwhile, Rondo, 32, averaged 13 points on 57.1 percent shooting (50 percent from 3), 10.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in the Lakers’ first two games. So, it’s not like Rondo wasn’t playing well. But, evidently Luke Walton has liked what he’s seen from Ball and wants to continue with the momentum his team has going.

It’s unclear from McMenamin’s report whether this is a permanent move with an eye to the future, or just a temporary one subject to change based on how both players perform moving forward.

Rondo Calls CP3 “Horrible Teammate,” Denies Spitting

Three days after participating in an on-court altercation between the Lakers and Rockets, and two days after being suspended for his involvement in that fight, Rajon Rondo told ESPN on Tuesday that he didn’t intentionally spit on Chris Paul, and offered some harsh criticism of the Houston point guard.

“I had a mouthpiece in my mouth and I exasperated because I was about to tell him to ‘Get the [expletive] out of here,'” Rondo said. “Look at my body language [in the video]. My hands on my hips. I turn away for a second. Look at Eric [Gordon] and Melo [Carmelo Anthony] in the video. If they saw me spit, they would have turned their face up or something. They had no reaction.”

Rondo, who was displeased that he received a longer suspension than Paul, bemoaned the fact that both the NBA and the media – in his view – sided with CP3’s account of what happened on Saturday. League sources tell ESPN that Rondo claimed he was provoked into throwing a punch at Paul after the Rockets guard poked a finger into his face and left a scratch under his eye.

Arguing that Paul’s actions to “provoke the situation” were overlooked, Rondo suggested that the media-created images of the two point guards contributed to that portrayal of the incident.

“Everyone wants to believe Chris Paul is a good guy. They don’t know he’s a horrible teammate,” Rondo said. “They don’t know how he treats people. Look at what he did last year when he was in L.A.; trying to get to the Clippers locker room. They don’t want to believe he’s capable of taunting and igniting an incident.”

While Rondo has never played on the same team as Paul, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard claims that CP3 isn’t a perfect teammate. During the final years of the Lob City era in Los Angeles, there were rumors that Paul rubbed teammates like Blake Griffin the wrong way and often didn’t see eye-to-eye with head coach Doc Rivers.

The Rockets and Lakers will meet again on December 13 in Houston.

Suspensions Handed Out To Ingram, Rondo, Paul

As expected, the three players at the forefront of the scuffle that broke out in last night’s game between the Rockets and Lakers have received suspensions. Adrian Wojnarowski has reported (via Twitter) that Brandon Ingram will be suspended for four games, Rajon Rondo three games and that Chris Paul will sit for two games.

As a result of these suspensions, Ingram and Rondo will miss the Lakers’ upcoming games against the Spurs, Suns and Nuggets (with Ingram missing another contest against the Spurs later in the week). Meanwhile, Paul will sit out games against the Clippers and Jazz before returning to action.

Financially speaking, Bobby Marks of ESPN has reported (Twitter link) that Ingram will lose $158,816 for his four game suspension, Rondo will lose $186,207 for his three missed games and Paul will miss out on $491,782 for the two games he will be suspended for. The financial penalties are based on total salary divided by 145 for each game of the suspension.

Marks also notes that the Rockets will receive a $245,891 credit (half of Paul’s lost salary) that will be applied to their luxury tax at the end of the season.

These suspensions were inevitable, as all three players played key roles in the back-and-forth late in the fourth quarter of last night’s game.

Lakers, Rockets Brace For Suspensions

An exchange of punches late in Saturday’s game could result in significant suspensions for the LakersBrandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo and the RocketsChris Paul, write Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

Rondo and Paul landed punches on each other in the fracas, but Ingram could face the harshest punishment. He sparked the incident by pushing James Harden, then ran from halfcourt to throw a wild punch in the direction of both Paul and P.J. Tucker.

In the aftermath of the fight, the two teams couldn’t agree on what led Paul and Rondo to come to blows, other than a long-simmering feud between the veteran point guards. Paul claims Rondo spit in his face, while the Lakers contend nothing on the video backs up that assertion.

“You don’t do that to nobody — in sports, on the street,” Houston’s Carmelo Anthony said of the alleged spitting. “That’s blatant disrespect. You don’t do that. That’s unacceptable. … You don’t even see that in the streets, man.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton denied the accusation and blamed a flagrant 1 foul on the Rockets’ James Ennis a few minutes earlier for setting the tone for the incident.

“The clothesline three minutes prior, I saw that, and I have zero idea how that’s a flagrant 1,” Walton said. “The rule is — he clotheslined our guy, picked him up off his feet and slammed him on his back.”

NBA executive vice president Kiki VanDeWeghe, who handles discipline for the league, attended the game and has already begun an investigation. Rondo’s suspension three years ago for a homophobic slur toward a referee will likely be taken into account in determining his punishment, according to ESPN.

With the Rockets scheduled to play the Clippers tonight, an announcement is expected soon. Any accompanying fines will carry a per-game cost of $245,891 for Paul, $62,069 for Rondo and $39,704 for Ingram, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Lengthy suspensions for Rondo and Ingram would give Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma a chance to return to the Lakers’ starting lineup. Ball has been operating under a minutes restriction since offseason surgery on his left knee, but told reporters he wouldn’t have any limitations.

Lakers Notes: Ball, Walton, Johnson, James

The Lakers’ brass is encouraged by Lonzo Ball‘s revamped shooting stroke, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register reports. Ball still holds the ball further left than most right-handed shooters but it’s closer to the center than last season, Goon notes. Ball shot 36% from the field and 30.5% from long range during his rookie season. “The way he’s shooting the ball looks a lot more fluid now,“ GM Rob Pelinka said. Ball, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery this summer, has been medically cleared for camp but won’t initially participate in five-on-five scrimmages, Joey Ramirez of the team’s website reports. “He’s been 100 percent cleared by our medical staff to return to full basketball activity,” Pelinka said.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Luke Walton‘s job status won’t be in jeopardy if the team gets off to a slow start, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. LeBron James needs time to settle in with his new teammates, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson says, and Walton won’t be penalized during that process. “As I was talking to Luke, we said don’t worry about if we get out to a bad start,” Johnson said. “We have seen that with LeBron going to Miami, and we have seen that when he came back to Cleveland. He is going to struggle because there are so many new moving parts.”
  • Johnson shrugs off criticism of controversial free agent signings following James’ commitment, including Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley and JaVale McGee, Matt Eppers of USA Today writes. “We love that they all are different individuals and they bring something different to the table,” Johnson said. “We needed some grittiness, we needed some toughness. We needed somebody to come in and be upset that somebody had a defensive lapse.”
  • Johnson can’t hide his enthusiasm over James’ impact, even before training camp officially opens. “LeBron comes in, and he’s already in midseason form and shooting fadeaways and 3-pointers from almost half-court,” Johnson said in an Associated Press report. “And you’re sitting there saying, ‘Man, thank God we signed him.’”
  • Brandon Ingram and Stephenson are the team’s top small forwards and Ramirez takes a closer look at all the options at the position.

Western Notes: Lakers, Beyer, Grant, Morey

The Lakers front office felt they couldn’t fight fire with fire to overtake the Warriors, so their offseason acquisitions beyond LeBron James were aimed toward another approach, as Kevin Ding explains in an extensive piece posted on the team’s website. By signing Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo and Michael Beasley, the Lakers signaled that they want to rise to the top in a different way. “To try to play the Warriors in their own game is a trap,” GM Rob Pelinka told Ding. “No one is going to beat them at their own game. That’s why we wanted to add these elements: defense, toughness and depth—and try to look at areas where we’ll have an advantage.”

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • The Thunder have added Bob Beyer to Billy Donovan‘s coaching staff, according to a team press release. Beyer spent the last four seasons on Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons staff, serving as the associate head coach the past two seasons. His NBA coaching experience dates back to the 2003/04 season as an assistant with the Raptors.
  • Thunder forward Jerami Grant anticipates a bigger role during the upcoming season after signing a multi-year contract, as he told Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype in a Q&A session. Grant appeared in 81 games last season, averaging 8.4 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 20.3 MPG. He anticipates even more playing time with the departure of Carmelo Anthony. “I’m definitely excited to be able to play extensive minutes and play important minutes on a contender. Getting a chance to show what you can do while being part of an organization like this, being part of a team like this, it means a lot. They’ve shown a lot of trust in me by giving me this new contract and [and a bigger role].” Grant signed a three-year, $27MM contract to remain with OKC.
  • Rockets GM Daryl Morey is just as curious as anyone how DeMarcus Cousins will fit in with the Warriors, as he told radio host Dan Patrick in comments relayed by NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman. “They’ll probably figure out how to make it work, but it’s a little bit hard on paper to figure out how to make it work. But we do that well and so do they, obviously. They’re gonna be a tough out again, obviously. They’re arguably the best team in NBA history,” Morey said.

Pelicans Still In Need Of A Wing Player?

A bigger issue with the Pelicans this upcoming season may be the absence of a reliable player on the wing rather than the loss of Rajon Rondo or DeMarcus Cousins, as newcomers Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton are capable of replicating their production, at least in part, writes Scott Kushner of The Advocate.

Kushner opines that nobody on the Pelicans’ roster is capable of being a solid “3-and-D” player, as Solomon Hill has struggled to recover from a torn hamstring and E’Twaun Moore, limited by his 6’4” frame, has been asked to play against players much taller than him and seemingly taken out of his comfort zone as a result.

“If it was up to me — it doesn’t really matter as long as I stay on the floor and help my team win — but I would like to say that maybe I hopefully could be playing a little bit more guard (this season),” Moore said. “Last year, I was more of a wing, but it worked out well for the team because we played so fast. But it would be kind of cool to be going back to being a guard again.”

So, the Pelicans will now hold a three-man competition between Troy Williams, Garlon Green, and Kenrich Williams in order to find someone who may be able to crack the team’s wing rotation this season.

The Pelicans could also be active around midseason, as they were when they acquired Cousins in 2017 and Nikola Mirotic last season. But for now, they’ll rely on MVP-candidate Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Randle and Mirotic, which should be enough to keep them in the Western Conference playoff race.