Rajon Rondo, Lakers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Already due to be without LeBron James for a stretch of games, the Los Angeles Lakers also played without Rajon Rondo on Thursday because of a sprained right ring finger suffered on Christmas Day.

Lakers head coach Luke Walton indicated Rondo’s return hinged on his pain threshold. Walton suggested the veteran point guard could be back on the court by the weekend, or miss an extended period.

Then on Friday the Lakers announced Rondo underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament that was a result of the Grade 3 sprain. He’s projected to miss four to five weeks, which was the same timeline provided after a November operation to repair a fracture in his right hand.

“It was still hurting pretty bad. He tried to pick up a basketball, palm it and all those type of things,” Walton explained of the decision for Rondo to undergo a second surgery this season.

“It was killing him. The decision was based on, ‘I can fight through this, maybe, and see how much I can do. Or just get it done ASAP and come back 100 percent and try to make a late-season push.’ That was what all parties decided was the best option.

“I know his first thing was to give it a day or two to see how it would affect him. Between the pain and the fact he couldn’t really pick up a ball and do the things that make him such a special player, the decision was easy to make at that point.”

Rondo managed to play in just three games between his two hand injuries. He heads into another prolonged absence coming off a performance in which he helped the Lakers stabilize and fend off a Warriors’ comeback attempt.

“I feel bad for him. I know what kind of competitor he is. I know how much he wants to play. He came here to compete and help us win,” Walton said. “Being out last time was hard for him.

“Now to just get back and have to sit out again, has got to be really challenging for him. He was big for us when he was hurt last time, and we’ll expect for him to be big for us again as far as being involved in the huddles and locker room and film sessions.”

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