But nevertheless, the star finished the night with 12 points, four rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Welcome back, Rondo.
Prior to Tuesday though, the guard had yet to play in a game since Dec. 30, when the Bulls lost 111-101 to the Indiana Pacers. Rondo was benched after 11 minutes of production, finishing the evening with no points, one rebound and one assist.
Some may argue that it is quite simple: Rondo is not performing well, and thus should not be playing at all.
But there are two glaring issues with that. The first being that if the organization wanted a replica of Derrick Rose, they should have never reached out to Rondo in the first place.
The 30-year-old, despite averaging double-digit points during most of his career, has always been a playmaker first and foremost. So if what Chicago wanted was a shooting powerhouse, they certainly approached the wrong guard.
On top of that, he seemingly was the only player making Hoiball even look like it could work. As horrendous of a system as it is, Rondo’s fast feet and sharp passes might have pushed the offense in Hoiberg’s desired direction.
Which may not have won any more games, but should have at least pleased the coaching staff.
Another theory is that there must have been secret disagreements between Rondo and either Hoiberg, or another member of management.
However, it is rare for drama to stay under wraps, especially when it comes to a franchise as chaotic as the Bulls. Not to mention no one was trying to hide Rondo’s verbal altercation with assistant coach Jim Boylen.
Of course, Hoiberg has stayed pretty mum on the matter, really only stating that Rondo has “handled it great to this point.”
And Rondo? He too has kept quiet.
Well, up until now anyways.
The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson recently had a conversation with him about the situation, finally providing a little bit of clarity.
Rondo on benching: "In Cleveland, they told me I had a negative 20 in Indiana at halftime. I think that was part of the reason."
What is obvious however, is that both parties were expecting something totally different. While Chicago may have anticipated a different level of play from the veteran, rest assured that Rondo had a very different future with the Bulls in mind, too.
Rondo: "When I signed here, why I wanted to come here, it’s a lot different than what I anticipated."
Things basically can only go one of two ways. Either Hoiberg decides to start playing him regularly again, and Rondo sticks it out in Chicago until he can sign elsewhere down the line. Or, he continues to be benched until the trade deadline and requests to be dealt out.
Now whether Rondo would be a good fit or not, is an entirely different story. But at the very least it should be comforting to know he is not being completely overlooked by other organizations in the league.