first_imgEL SEGUNDO — The wait for LeBron James will last at least one more game.The Lakers were fairly tight-lipped about the 34-year-old’s participation in Wednesday’s practice, when he was able to go through some drills. But they already know he won’t be able to play Thursday night when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves.Coach Luke Walton didn’t seem especially confident about saying James would be back by Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns, either.“He’s not out yet for Sunday; I guess that puts it in play,” he said. “With him and (Rajon) Rondo, it’s gonna be, again, how he’s feeling tomorrow morning, and take it from there and see how he’s doing the next day after that, and the next day.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The Lakers remain hopeful that the 32-year-old point guard will be available for the first time in 14 games on Thursday night, giving them needed depth at the position and the kind of veteran voice that’s been missing in the backcourt.Rondo is still wearing sleeves on his right ring finger, which he had surgery on in December for a Grade 3 sprain. He said he wakes up with stiffness in his hand, but has been playing through it.“I’ve been feeling like I’m going to play the last couple weeks but still taking it day by day and see how I feel in the morning when I wake up,” he said. “Just trying to play without hesitation, maybe guarding it a little bit. So, a decision I have to make probably closer to the game.”Rondo said he still hasn’t been through much contact despite being cleared: Teammates have been reticent to test him in practice, although he noted Lance Stephenson “hacked” him on Wednesday.The Lakers hope that Rondo’s presence can slide some of their scorers, particularly Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, back into their more natural roles. Rondo said he’ll be looking to create easier opportunities for teammates than the Lakers have had without a traditional point guard in the game. Walton seemed to be most excited about what Rondo would add to the team’s poise.“Just having his leadership back on the court, whether that’s tomorrow, whether that’s Sunday, Tuesday,” he said. “Whenever it is, it’s something we need right now.”BALL GETTING TREATMENT DURING GAMESElsewhere in the practice facility-turned-medical ward, Ball was seen after practice walking out of the building on crutches following his ankle sprain on Saturday. Unlike James and Rondo, he was not sitting on the bench during the Lakers’ loss to Golden State on Monday.Walton acknowledged there’s a reason for that: Ball is receiving his treatment during games. Throughout his two seasons with the Lakers, it’s been rare to see Ball on the bench when he is nursing an injury – he uses that time to do his own work, which Walton has stamped with approval.There are also NBA rules that limit the number of players who can sit on the bench during a game, so two-way player Alex Caruso being called up affects that cap. Walton suggested both factors are at work.“Treatment’s a priority,” Walton said. “Depending on our roster, you are only allowed to sit a certain amount of people on the bench. There (are) new rules, you can’t be on the floor anymore. So depending on how many guys we have up from the G League team will go into play with that, but the treatment part of it is always the priority.”center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersWalton said James was able to run and quipped that he looked “good, strong, talented,” in practice. Rondo, who is hoping to play for the first time since Christmas on Thursday, declined to talk about James’ participation in practice.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.While the Lakers (and James’ own camp) have said he’s not on anyone’s timeline but his own, there’s added urgency to his return after the Lakers played their most recent game without him, Rondo, or Lonzo Ball, who is out four to six weeks with a sprained ankle. James is now scheduled to miss his career-high 15th consecutive game as the Lakers struggle to stay above .500 and within striking distance of a Western Conference playoff berth. They’ve gone 5-9 so far without him.Rondo seemed to shrug off the concern, however, perhaps foreshadowing a return for James soon.“Well, we’ve got LeBron,” he said. “I don’t know the last time he missed the playoffs.”RONDO A GAME-TIME DECISIONWhile the Lakers continue the waiting game for their superstar, the wait for Rondo to re-enter seems shorter.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *