Notice Rajon Rondo. He’s not even on the Lakers’ bench. He’s in the first courtside fan seat.
Rondo again slipped away from the Lakers’ bench, but this time it was far more noticeable. He sat five seats away – with three fans between – from the Lakers’ bench for the final couple minutes of Los Angeles’ loss to the Nuggets last night.
Did it look like Rondo quit on the team? Yes.
Will it be a big deal? Maybe.
Should this be a big deal? Probably not.
Rondo has repeatedly bonded with young players, and as LeBron pointed out, the Lakers have plenty. Rondo’s veteran mentorship shows his commitment to the team. Separating himself for a couple minutes during an already-decided frustrating loss doesn’t undo that bond.
Besides, Rondo said this was fairly common.
Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times:
Granted, the optics are bad. Rondo looked detached from the team.
But if nobody even noticed previous instances of Rondo doing this, it can’t be that bad.
I also suspect the stubborn Rondo – if he believes it’s totally fine to sit in courtside fan seats – won’t change just for the optics.
So, the Lakers must decide whether Rondo’s seat choice is a problem and, if it is, whether it’s a battle worth fighting. I doubt coach Luke Walton wants to take up this cause shortly before his likely firing. It’d probably fall to team president Magic Johnson.
Or the Lakers could just determine, whether or not they’d prefer Rondo to sit on the bench, there are far more important ways to judge his devotion to the team.