The Lakers had a scrimmage Thursday that allowed Rajon Rondo to test the sore calf that kept him out of the season opener Tuesday against the Clippers, but a decision on whether he plays Friday night will be decided shortly before the game against the Utah Jazz.
Rondo said he “felt OK” during and after the intrasquad scrimmage, but his ability to face the Jazz at Staples Center still hadn’t been determined.
“It’s how I recover, the tightness of my calf, how it feels in the next 24 hours,” Rondo said.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Rondo looked “really good” and “fresher than everybody else” during the scrimmage. Vogel also said Rondo had a “bounce in his step” while on the court.
“But, you know, it’s not how he feels today, it’s how he feels after today’s workout, right?” Vogel said. “So, we’ll see how he responds to [how] he’s doing today and make that decision [Friday].”
Rondo said he began to feel pain in his calf the day before the Lakers played their last exhibition against the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 18.
He was listed as questionable for the game against the Clippers, but didn’t play.
Rondo was asked if his preference was to start or come off the bench when he does return.
“My preference is what Coach Vogel wants me to do,” Rondo said. “I’ll be cool with that.”
On Tuesday, the Clippers put a lot of ball pressure on LeBron James, who started at point guard and was the Lakers’ primary ball handler.
With Rondo playing the point guard spot as well, the hope is that he can alleviate some of that pressure on James and take over running the offense so James can be more effective receiving the ball on the wing.
“He’ll be a huge help,” Vogel said about Rondo. “He’s a huge part of what we hope to be this year. I’ve always wanted to coach him specifically, but I’ve always asked for guys like him. I always ask my point guards to really quarterback the action on the floor and be a coach on the floor and he’s one of the best ever to do it. He’s going to give us a big lift and from there. . . . He missed a little bit the other night and we’re eager to have him back.”
Rondo shot 35.9% from three-point range last season. He has made 31.5% of his three-pointers over his career.
James has seemed to be at his best when having shooters around him.
Based on that, Rondo was asked if he’ll be more valuable playing with James or without James. Last season, the Lakers allowed 5.4 more points per 100 possessions than they scored when Rondo and James were on the floor at the same time.
“Whatever Vogel asks. Whatever fits,” Rondo said. “The league is big on analytics now, so I don’t know what the statistics are when LeBron and I are on the court at the same time, but that’s last year’s stats. This year is obviously a different team, different feel. So we’ll see how it goes. You can’t predetermine anything. You got to see how the game flows and go from there.”
James said he, too, was impressed with what he saw from Rondo during the scrimmage.
“I think he looked pretty good,” James said. “Obviously I think there’re some time constraints on how long he can go, but it’s always good to have one of our leaders out on the floor for sure.”