Nick Wright foresees Rajon Rondo as Lonzo Ball’s Lakers mentor

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Nick Wright predicts 'veteran' Rajon Rondo will be 'younger guy' Lonzo Ball's mentor, pushing Ball as the opposing point guard in Los Angeles Lakers practices.

- Here's where I think Rondo can be most useful, whether they have a great relationship or not. Man, iron sharpens iron, to use a cliche. And Rondo going to be on his--

CRIS CARTER: It's actually a Bible verse.

- OK, thank you.

- But it also says, I am my brother's keeper. But if your brother don't need no help, you'd rather think he don't need no help.

[LAUGHTER]

- Preacher Carter coming down. Listen, I'm talking about in practice, though. In practice, Rondo will make Lonzo better, because Rondo is--

CRIS CARTER: Just pure example.

- Listen, and--

CRIS CARTER: Right?

- Because, listen, Rajon Rondo is a different type of cat. He's one of the smartest guys in the league. He is also one of the most competitive guys in the league. He believes he is the world's greatest Connect Four player. He is the type of guy that will-- if you beat him in something, you must keep playing him until he beats you. And so he is not there to let Rondo win in these drills in practice.

JENNA WOLFE: So what does he get out of it? What does he get out of being a mentor to Lonzo Ball?

- That's-- I don't know. I cannot sit here and tell you I know for a fact Rondo wants to do that. What I can sit here a tell you is Rondo will attack the other point guard in practice every day. And that will make Lonzo better. Because that things Rondo's good at-- Lonzo, I think, has more physical, natural ability, can jump higher. I think he's faster than Rondo.

CRIS CARTER: Mm-hmm.

- He can-- they're both similar length. Like, he can take some of the things Rondo does well and be better than Rondo, especially because he's 10 years younger. But I don't-- I think the mentor-mentee thing would be great. I think it's going to be more about in practice and in training camp and in day-to-day stuff of Rondo constantly pushing him.

CRIS CARTER: Let's go back to Rondo, what he went through when the big ticket, KG, came to Boston.

NICK WRIGHT: Psh. Yes.

- Because Rondo was the youngest of the players. But at times, he was the player that was able to speak good, calm sense into the rest of them. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen-- and we talk about Garnett-- they had some issues there. But Rondo, as a young player-- and then there was a point, Nick, you remember, when Rondo actually was able to take over the team?

- Yes.

- There will be a point where Lonzo's got to take over the Lakers, you know, relatively speaking. I believe Rondo helps in that transition. And I believe it helps in understanding who LeBron is. Because these players, they've grown up with LeBron-- man, LeBron being idolized. They don't know LeBron.

And I think being around another superstar like Rondo was used to, what he was used to not only there with the Pelicans, but what he's been used to since he's been around the league-- in Chicago, he had Jimmy Butler. So he's been in a lot of tough situations, that Rondo, to me, he's earned his stripes as being one of the good leaders in the league.

NICK WRIGHT: And we've also seen because of that Jimmy Butler-Dwayne Wade situation, Rondo's a different type of veteran. He's a veteran that, for some reason, does seen some kinship it would appear-- small sample size, I know-- with younger guys, not just siding with older guys. Because when Butler and Wade in Chicago were calling out the younger guys, Rondo was the veteran who had the younger guy's back.

I'll also say that Ron-- LeBron, we know, can be passive aggressive. We know LeBron can be hard on guys at times. Rondo is someone that I think would be able to go to Lonzo and be like, hey, man, you're fine. Like, LeBron's getting on you. You're-- don't get down on yourself. You're fine.

Like, another thing-- like, all these guys that signed with the Lakers signed there knowing LeBron was there and knowing they signed one-year deals and knowing they signed for a specific role. Rondo didn't sign there thinking Lonzo had been traded. He signed there knowing Lonzo was there.

So this is-- I think a lot of these guys, it's eyes wide open. Rondo-- there's a lot of places Rondo could have gone. He chose to go to Los Angeles.

CRIS CARTER: One thing to me, it seems like Rondo is a very calculative, think it, learn it person. I guarantee you he'll have a plan. Like, he's just not going to the Lakers and being like, you know something, I'll work on my jumper. I'm going to work on trying to get the team-- no, he's got a plan of, not only how he wants to play basketball-- you hear that, saying, yes, I am available to be a starter. I'm here to compete. But I'm sure he's got a plan of these younger players. How can I help them reach their potential.

JENNA WOLFE: Will he start over Lonzo?

- I think it's too early to say. I think it-- I don't think that's-- you think it's impossible.

- Something would have to go wrong. So from the beginning, Lonzo's the starter. But if he plays bad, it is on the board that Rondo can start for the Lakers.

NICK WRIGHT: I think the Lakers would have an out without killing Lonzo and say, still coming off that knee, if Rondo is far better. And I do think it's important they get off to a good start because it's the West. And look, where your playoff seeding is matters. Home court matters.

CRIS CARTER: Let's not forget the dad. The dad was upset last year that Luke Walton didn't understand his son in saying he wasn't playing enough minutes. Now, if he don't run out there when they have them starting lineups when LeBron does the powdered thing, there going to be some problems there in Laker land.

- Real quick before we move one. You mentioned Luke Walton. Now, I think LeBron was delighted they signed Rondo. I think Lonzo is fine with it. The guy that this is the hardest for is the head coach. Rajon Rondo, every team he's on, you know who he thinks the coach is? He's the coach. He's calling the plays. He knows more basketball than anybody else.

CRIS CARTER: Rick Carlisle, he was in Dallas, called the play coming up. We running number three! Rondo waved him off. No, no, no, no.

[LAUGHTER]

Rick Carlisle, boop, time out. Get your butt off the court.

- Jenna, in that specific instance, it's a playoff game. Rondo had told him stop calling plays. Carlisle called another play. He gave himself an eight-second violation. He just stopped dribbling the ball up the court so they got a turnover, like out of-- OK, you're going to call plays? I'm going to call plays. Oh, you're going to call plays? Well, now, we have a turnover.

Like, he can be a tough guy to coach. And so Luke Walton-- I guarantee you Rondo thinks he knows more about basketball than Luke Walton.

JENNA WOLFE: Yeah, do you think--

- And by the way--

- --he thinks he knows more basketball than LeBron James?

- No, but he-- but LeBron's not trying to coach him. LeBron's not going to be telling him what to do every day the way Walton is. The guy that this is tough for is Walton. I think for Lonzo, it's fine. The guy that-- I wouldn't have-- I would have been like, eh? Eh? We've got Rondo. Yeah, I'm excited.

- Got a lot of high basketball IQs than LeBron and Rondo now in that huddle.

NICK WRIGHT: And a lot of guys who are much more accomplished basketball players than Luke Walton and played against Luke Walton.

- Right.

- It's one thing if you're a more accomplished basketball player than your coach, but he's 60. It's another thing when he's your age. I mean, I used to work you. And now, you're telling me how to play? That's the part that could be tricky.