Lakers' Rajon Rondo Enters NBA's COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 26, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers' Rajon Rondo dribbles the ball during first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The Los Angeles Lakers announced they placed Rajon Rondo in the NBA's health and safety protocols.

The move comes one day after Los Angeles' 122-115 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Rondo was absent in the defeat. His last appearance was the team's 138-110 drubbing at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.

The Lakers now have four players in the protocols, with Rondo joining Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore and Austin Reaves. Malik Monk and Avery Bradley were activated ahead of Christmas Day, with Monk logging 35 minutes against the Nets.

Losing Rondo is another setback for Los Angeles at a time when it can ill afford any more bad news.

The team is riding a five-game losing streak and sits seventh in the Western Conference at 16-18. Reflecting on the Nets loss, The Athletic's Bill Oram lamented the state of L.A.'s roster and wrote how the Lakers "continue to fall flat in spite of monster performances from LeBron James."

Rondo was a valuable contributor on the 2019-20 squad that won a championship, but the 35-year-old has struggled this season. He's averaging 3.7 assists in 16.1 minutes per game but shooting 32.4 percent from the floor and 26.7 percent from beyond the arc.

On/off splits aren't a definitive indicator as to a player's value, but it's telling that the Lakers are 11.9 points per 100 possessions better on offense when Rondo is on the bench, per NBA.com.

But Los Angeles is 26th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.52), underscoring a lack of playmaking behind James and Russell Westbrook. Rondo is third on the team in assists.

Isaiah Thomas is averaging 9.3 points and 1.5 assists since signing a 10-day contract. The Lakers will need to lean on the two-time All-Star for the time being to help facilitate the offense.