Lakers News: Rajon Rondo Trash Talk Used as Tool to Fire Up Lonzo Ball

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2018

LAS VEGAS, NV- OCTOBER 10: Rajon Rondo #9  and Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers look on against the Golden State Warriors during a pre-season game on October 10, 2018 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Veteran point guard Rajon Rondo has been a key part of the Los Angeles Lakers' attempts to get second-year guard Lonzo Ball more engaged.

According to ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk, the Lakers have been trying to "unlock Ball's fire" since selecting him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft.

One way they have worked toward that this season is by having Rondo talk trash to him during practice, as explained by Ball:

"Yeah, he'll try to get into me. Just stuff to try to get me going. He talks a bunch of trash in practice all the time, which makes me pretty mad.

"I told him, my whole life I [respond to] getting yelled at [by the coach] so that is how I respond ... if you see stuff, just yell at me. I tune into it. That is how he tries to help me out."

The Lakers signed Rondo during the offseason as part of a roster transformation that also saw them bring in small forward LeBron James, center JaVale McGee and shooting guard Lance Stephenson.

In addition to getting challenged by Rondo during practice, Ball said Rondo has called and led several "impromptu players-only" film sessions so far this season.

Rondo is currently on the shelf for three to five weeks with a fractured third metacarpal in his right hand, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin and Youngmisuk.

With Rondo out, the Lakers are likely to lean on Ball even more heavily in the coming weeks.

The 21-year-old Ball entered play Saturday averaging 8.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.

His production is down from last season when he averaged 10.2 points, 7.2 assists and 6.9 rebounds as a rookie, but his shooting has improved from 36.0 percent to 40.9 percent overall and 30.5 percent to 38.1 percent from three-point range.

Ball is playing eight fewer minutes per game this season partly because of Rondo's presence and the fact that James is taking on much of the ball-handling burden.

Because of the lack of point guard depth behind Ball and Rondo, Ball will have a chance to put what he has learned from Rondo to the test more often moving forward.