As Los Angeles Lakers rookie Mo Wagner got shots up behind the arc during shootaround Thursday morning ahead of the Celtics-Lakers game, there was another player less than half his size working his way around the court.
In a game of one-on-one against a Lakers staffer, Rajon Rondo’s son — decked out in Nike gear — showed off his handle, mid-range jumper, and a defensive stance that would probably bring a smile to Celtics coach Brad Stevens’s face. Wagner even set a pick for the youngster at one point, giving him an open lane for a layup.
“Whatcha gonna do, Pierre?” the staffer playfully called out.
While his giggling son scurried across the parquet, Rondo was also out on the court — returning once more to the place where he had spent the first eight and a half seasons of his career. The 32-year-old, of course, has returned to TD Garden in uniforms other than Boston’s green and white, but Thursday night will mark the first time he’ll be donning the colors of a storied rival.
“It’s a little strange,” he admitted.
Rondo, who signed a one-year, $9 million contract with the Lakers in July, isn’t about to let his new team sway his deep-rooted allegiances, though.
“[Boston’s] still always home,” he said.
Rondo’s homecoming, however, is hardly the headliner Thursday, getting overshadowed by the NBA trade deadline and All-Star Draft. With New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis staying put at the 3 p.m. cutoff, there may be a bit of tension in the air due to the Lakers’ and Celtics’ competing pursuits of the All-Star. Not to mention several names on Los Angeles’ roster have already been leaked as pieces of the team’s reported offer for Davis.
But LeBron James downplayed any sort of heightened chaos.
“The suspense and the excitement around the trade deadline is always kind of pretty crazy,” he said. “It’s always kind of been like that. Sometimes things happen, where teams exchange players, and sometimes it don’t happen, but the conversation and the speculation is always there.”
To add to the list of Thursday’s festivities, a number of Patriots are expected to be in attendance to celebrate their victory over the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3, in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday. Fans in attendance will find a “Beat L.A. again” sign at their seat. Oh, and James will also be facing off against former teammate Kyrie Irving for the first time as part of the historic rivalry.
“Hopefully, I’m still here,” he joked with a smile.
(He, obviously, was not traded.)
Lakers at a glance
■ When, where: Thursday, 8 p.m., at TD Garden.
■ TV, radio: TNT, WBZ-FM (98.5).
■ Scoring (PPG): LeBron James 26.9, Kyle Kuzma 18.6, Brandon Ingram 17.1.
■ Rebounding (RPG): James 8.4, JaVale McGee 6.8, Tyson Chandler 6.1.
■ Assists (APG): Rajon Rondo 7.7, James 7.3, Lonzo Ball 5.4.
■ Head to head: Thursday is the first of two meetings. The teams split the series last season.
■ Miscellany: Ball (ankle) is out . . . The Lakers have dropped six of their last eight . . . James has averaged 29.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 6.8 assists in 49 career games against the Celtics . . . Rondo is averaging 9.5 points and 9.8 assists over his last six starts with Ball out.