Chicago Bulls: Rajon Rondo Taking New Role In Stride
Chicago Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo is taking his new role in stride.
They had already drafted versatile forward/guard Denzel Valentine out of Michigan State with the 14th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. In addition to that, the Bulls also had Jerian Grant (acquired as part of the Rose trade) and Isaiah Canaan vying for the point guard position.
When it was all said and done, though, the Bulls decided that Rajon Rondo was a serviceable option to run the team’s offense. This move raised many eyebrows considering that Rondo had developed a reputation for voicing his displeasure in a negative way when he didn’t see eye-to-eye with his head coaches.
Furthermore, Rondo has never been a great floor spacer by any means and he became known as a guy who gambles frequently from a defensive standpoint. Despite those red flags, however, the Bulls were willing to take a chance on the 12-year veteran who had played on three different teams over the past two seasons.
In the beginning, all was good. The Bulls got off to a promising 3-0 start and were playing at a pace that Fred Hoiberg had been begging for since he was given the coaching reins.
But the feel-good story didn’t last too long and following an outing against the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 30 — a game in which Rondo didn’t score a point and finished with a -20 plus/minus — Hoiberg kept him out of the rotation over the next five-plus games.
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And if not for injuries to Dwayne Wade and Jimmy Butler, Rondo probably would have remained out of the rotation for a bit longer. Needless to say, this was a bitter pill to swallow for a guy that has won a championship and appeared in two NBA Finals.
But despite the fact that he felt like he did not receive a clear explanation as to why he was benched, Rondo seems to be taking his new role as the lead guard of the second unit in stride.
Case in point, when Wade and Butler questioned the effort level of their teammates following a loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 25, Rondo vehemently defended his younger counterparts with this Instagram posting.
My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team. My vets didn’t pick and choose when they wanted to bring it. They brought it every time they stepped in the gym whether it was practice or a game. They didn’t take days off. My vets didn’t care about their numbers. My vets played for the team. When we lost, they wouldn’t blame us. They took responsibility and got in the gym. They showed the young guys what it meant to work. Even in Boston when we had the best record in the league, if we lost a game, you could hear a pin drop on the bus. They showed us the seriousness of the game. My vets didn’t have an influence on the coaching staff. They couldn’t change the plan because it didn’t work for them. I played under one of the greatest coaches, and he held everyone accountable. It takes 1-15 to win. When you isolate everyone, you can’t win consistently. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a bad teammate. My goal is to pass what I learned along. The young guys work. They show up. They don’t deserve blame. If anything is questionable, it’s the leadership.
A post shared by Rajon Rondo (@rajonrondo) on
As one would imagine, Rondo endeared himself to the other guys that come off the bench after coming to their defense.
Here is what Nikola Mirotic had to say about the veteran point guard:
“I feel so comfortable with him and I think all the young guys do,” Mirotic said via the Chicago Tribune. “He’s very honest. He’s talking all the time, supporting before the game, after the game, during the practice. He’s always positive. Even if something is not going well, he’s trying to help young players. It’s been great to have him here.”
Jerian Grant also added the following statement:
“He’s a great teammate. He’s been through a lot of different things and been able to show us the wrong and right ways. That’s good for us. He’s been extremely helpful to me. I’ve been in the gym with him a lot, picked his brains a lot.”
While these are glowing remarks from the younger players the Bulls view as part of the team’s long-term future, Rondo feels that he is just doing what he’s supposed to do as a player that has been in the league as long as he has.
From the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson:
“I just feel like it’s one of my roles to give back to the game because it was given to me. It’s only right for me to pass it down. I think that’s what this league is missing, a lot of veteran guys who are willing to assist the young guys. There’s so much me, me, me and jealousy in this game amongst each other versus trying to help the next person.”
Rondo also went on to add that it doesn’t matter whether he gets along with another player off the court and that at the end of the day, it’s about winning and playing the right way.
Bulls fans can only hope that the entire team embraces this mantra during the second half of the season.
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