Here’s a quote from Traveling Bear from two days ago after the Lakers first game of the season:
Rondo’s focus has been hit or miss for the last six seasons, but it looks like we might be getting that fully invested, fully focused Playoff Rondo in LA. He was solid, 13 points, 11 assists but more importantly the announcers made notes about how he’s mentoring the younger players, getting them up early to watch film. An engaged Rondo makes this team very interesting and having both him and LeBron out there, together, with their elite court vision is kind of similar to Houston’s two point-guard attack of James Harden and Chris Paul.
So then what about after Game 2 when he, coincidentally, was on the court with James Harden and Chris Paul.
Look for Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, and Brandon Ingram to all face suspensions. The NBA has been strict on fighting ever since The Malice at the Palace and I’d say low-end three games, high-end five.
But also look for State Farm to do a commercial with all three of those guys + the guy from The Office. My guess, Chris Paul and James Harden bump into Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo’s car in traffic. They all hop out, get ready to fight, then the State Farm agent shows up, talks them down. “Here, I’ll give you a ride to the game.” Start the jingle, show the logo + “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is there” slogan. Cuts back and then you’ve got Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews as hitchhikers. “Got room for two more?”
I don’t like putting a ton of weight on NBA basketball in October, but let’s say Ingram and Rondo are both gone for three games a piece. Lakers next three: Spurs, Suns, Nuggets. It was going to be hard even with them to pick up more than one win in that stretch. Without them? I think we’re looking at 1-2.
A 1-4 start in the East, nothing to worry about. Out in the competitive Western Conference where one or two games can be the difference of a four seed or an eight seed, different story. Their immediate schedule doesn’t lighten up either. After Spurs, Suns, Nuggets it continues right on with Spurs again, Timberwolves, Mavericks, Trailblazers, Raptors, Timberwolves. It’s not absurd to say the Lakers may start this season 4-8, 5-7, or (Lakers fans, look away) a scary 3-9.
And hey, maybe long-term this is good for the team. Rondo was serving as the big brother figure out there for the 21-year-old Brandon Ingram. Maybe. We’ll see how this plays out.
But one thing I know, this wasn’t nearly as epic as another Lakers vs. Rockets fight from about 20 years ago. Oh! There’s a swing by O’Neal! And they’ve got a brouhaha!