Rajon Rondo shows signs of recovery, but Lakers mum about potential early return

LOS ANGELES — Every day, there’s at least a tease that Rajon Rondo is on the mend.

It might be dribbling with both hands at a practice. It might be practicing turnaround jumpers during pregame warmups. It might simply be when he walks around without any protective gear on his right hand, which is two weeks removed from surgery to repair a fractured third metatarsal.

But if he is on a shorter timeline than previously understood – he was initially expected to return two to three weeks from now – the Lakers aren’t ready to talk about it. Not yet.

“I always have hope that he’s accelerated in his recovery, but that’s gonna be – it’s really, it’s the doctors and the trainers. I’m out of that one as far as when he plays. If he gets cleared, he’ll start playing, but he hasn’t been cleared.”

He hasn’t been cleared, more specifically, for contact. But Rondo does plenty of things. He can often be seen shooting or rebounding or passing during portions of practice and warm-ups open to the media.

Rondo takes fastidious care of his body: He recently told reporters that he devotes up to three hours a day to recovery, including work on the training table and yoga. Walton said Rondo can’t fully stay in basketball shape for the time being, but he’s running and lifting in the weight room.

It wouldn’t surprise Walton if the Lakers are able to get Rondo back sooner than expected.

“He’s a freak of a human,” he said. “With how long he’s been at this level and playing, you see the way he works out and the condition he’s in, the way he takes care of himself, it does not surprise me.”

BEASLEY BACK IN THE MIX

After playing just nine minutes between Oct. 27 and Nov. 26, Michael Beasley has played 21 minutes this week – chipping in with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting, in addition to contributing an assist, a steal and a couple rebounds.

The way he attacked his first minutes in weeks – throwing down a dunk against the Denver Nuggets minutes after being inserted into the game – it was as though he’d never been gone. Or, perhaps, as though he were really raring to go.

Beasley missed five games to attend to a personal matter and then fell out of the rotation upon his return. But Walton suggested the 11th-year forward knew his time would come.

“He’s a professional,” Walton said. “I tell everyone on our team, ‘Everyone’s gonna help us win games at some point this season, so we all need to be ready.’ We have a deep team, so some nights it’s gonna be one guy and another night it’ll be someone else. And he’s done a nice job of continuing to work and last night he did a good job of scoring and passing when it’s appropriate. He had some nice defensive plays. So it was nice to get him out there.”

Beasley’s long string of DNPs was interrupted by nine minutes of action, in which he had seven points and four fouls during the Lakers’ loss at Orlando on Nov. 17. Otherwise, as he sat and watched, he said his main concern was simple: “Just cheering for my teammates.”

Whenever he gets the call again, look for him to still be thinking of his teammates – he said he might break out his air guitar, in honor of teammate Lance Stephenson.

“Lance is one of my favorite people to watch, his energy is going, when he’s got it going, the whole city feels it,” Beasley said. “I do it for him, I do it to get him going.”

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