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Rajon Rondo makes championship with Los Angeles Lakers a priority

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Rajon Rondo has a unique view of the LakersCeltics storied history, and now the point guard is driven to put his own stamp on the NBA’s historic rivalry.

“I need another ring,” Rondo said after practice on Monday. “It’s simple. I want to be the first to win for the two most historic franchises that’s ever put a basketball to use. So, I got one in Boston and I’d love to get one with this organization.”

Entering this season, a total of 33 players have played for both the Celtics and Lakers franchises — and only Clyde Lovellette won a title with both teams. However, Lovellette won with the Minneapolis Lakers — meaning Rondo could still become the first to win a title with the Lakers, while in Los Angeles, and the Celtics, with whom he won the 2008 championship.

Rondo signed a one-year deal with the Lakers in the offseason and he spoke glowingly of the franchise a few days before the regular season opens.

“You expect certain teams, certain franchises [to be like this],” continued Rondo, who is playing for his sixth team in his 13th season. “Obviously, playing for Boston that was probably the best experience I’ve had since I’ve [been in the league]. And now here. Obviously, all the teams I’ve played for, they do have great organizations, but none touch this.”

As for whether Rondo can accomplish his goal of winning a ring with both iconic franchises, the point guard likes what he has seen from this Lakers roster so far.

“I love what I’ve seen,” he said. “We got some dogs. We got a lot of dogs. And we got a lot of young, great talent, and we got the best player in the world. We got some good chemistry, a good mix, and we got to find a way to put it together.”

“I love our young guys, our commitment, the way they study the game, their willingness to learn. I was telling Bron the other day, we were on the plane and I’ve never seen damn near 12 guys watching film. As a team, I haven’t seen that many guys combined in the last four [or] five seasons, I think. So, it was very refreshing to see. Understanding that this team is committed.”

It’s not known who will start for the Lakers for Thursday’s season opener at the Portland Trail Blazers, but coach Luke Walton said Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope started in the backcourt during Monday’s practice.

All indications this preseason have pointed toward Rondo starting at point guard over Lonzo Ball. LeBron James, Brandon Ingram and JaVale McGee are expected to be the Lakers’ starters in the front court.

Walton said if he opts to start Rondo over Ball it won’t necessarily be because Ball got off to a late start in camp after the team eased last year’s No. 2 overall pick back in following offseason knee surgery on a torn left meniscus. Ball just returned to game action last week when he played in the Lakers’ final two preseason games.

“Whether Lonzo starts or not is gonna be based on where we’re at as a team and what’s working for us right now,” Walton said. “He’s looked great and he continues to play better and better. Had another solid day today. … He still needs to be in better shape, but he’s getting back to where he needs to be.”

Through the preseason, Rondo has given the Lakers everything they hoped for when they signed him — leadership and experience at the point and a mentor for younger players like Ball.

Rondo, meanwhile, says the Lakers have been perhaps the most player-friendly organization he has been a part of.

“I mean, this is definitely a players-first organization,” Rondo said. “I can’t say it’s not the best I’ve ever played for, as far as the staff, they’re great. They’re always very welcoming when you come in the door. We just speak all the time. They’re very polite. They ask if we can do anything for you. From Magic [Johnson], to Rob [Pelinka], they’re always around just trying to encourage you.

“Or whatever you may need as a player, they’re always willing to give it to you or find a way to help you. So, off the court, on the court, getting pulled over by police, TMZ, I mean anything. They’re always there to try to figure out a rescue or make things better for their team and their players and the organization.”

Rondo also heaped praise on his new head coach.

“He’s a champ. He’s a champ,” Rondo repeated. “He’s been around for a long time. He’s been around so many great players, even [those who played] 30-40 years ago, he’s been around those guys. So his demeanor and laid-back character, it just fits in as far as how the dynamics of this organization is run.”

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