Rajon Rondo is back on the Los Angeles Lakers roster, but he won’t dress for Game 3 against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Head coach Frank Vogel previously announced the point guard would be active Saturday night as the Lakers looked to take a 2-1 series lead, but back spasms flared up shortly before tipoff and kept him on the bench.
Rondo suffered a thumb injury during a practice session inside the NBA bubble in mid-July and was projected to miss six to eight weeks.
The four-time All-Star is averaging 7.1 points, 5.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 48 games this season, but his playoff experience would likely help the Lakers most.
Los Angeles has looked out of rhythm on offense over the last few weeks, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis forced to carry too much of the load. That didn’t work in Game 1, as Portland stunned the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed 100-93 to take a 1-0 first-round lead.
The Lakers bounced back in Game 2 with a 111-88 victory, and Rondo could have helped them can build on that in Game 3.
In 105 playoff games, the guard has averaged 14.0 points, 9.3 assists and 6.1 rebounds in 37.6 minutes per night. While it’s unlikely he’ll see as many minutes for the Lakers when he officially takes the floor again, his eventual return should take pressure off the likes of James and Alex Caruso, who have seen increased ball-handling duties in recent weeks.
Once healthy, Rondo will need time to get back into his rhythm-and doing so in the playoffs won’t be easy-making it worth watching just how often Vogel plays his point guard moving forward.