On Friday, one week after the infamous Jimmy Butler trade, the Chicago Bulls have decided to waive Rajon Rondo from the team after just one season.
According to ESPN, Rondo, 31, had a team option for just over $13M that would be guaranteed if the Bulls decided to keep him. However, after a dismal season and an early exit, the Bulls have finally decided to get younger and rebuild.
Rondo’s performance this year was subpar, averaging about 7.8 points per game and 6.3 assists per game. He managed to get in double digits in back-to-back games just five times this season, and none of those streaks went for more than three games. His inconsistency on the court grew incredibly blatant as the season went along, and even though he helped the Bulls in the playoffs, his injury could not have come at a worse time.
Of course, what he lacked on the court he made up with a go-get-em mentality in the locker room, right? Wrong. In fact, his attitude in the clubhouse was arguably worse than his playing. Let’s not forget this is the same man who posted the following statement on Instagram in the middle of the season:
“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 clear blow to Dwayne Wade and Jimmy Butler, who were deemed the “leaders” of the team by the city of Chicago. And the one piece the Chicago Bulls had that kept the veterans and the rookies together, the one veteran who brought his A game each and every time he stepped on the court, Chicago traded away in the OKC trade: Taj Gibson. After that trade, you could visually see the Bulls begin to fall apart.
The way we see it now, here will be the starting lineup for the Chicago Bulls this season (Below, you will find the players’ names, notable statistics from last year, and their age.):
PG: Zach Lavine (18.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 3.0 APG), 23
SG: Dwayne Wade (18.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.8 APG), 35
SF: Paul Zipser (5.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.8 APG, 33.3% 3 pt.), 23
PF: Bobby Portis (6.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 33.3% 3 pt.), 22
C: Robin Lopez (10.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.4 BPG), 29
Just looking at this starting lineup right now, of course, nothing looks too good; however, the Bulls are in a really good spot, because now they have time to tinker with this roster. Chicago has gotten rid of some key components of their team, yes, but think of this as a clean slate. They now have 5 point guards (Grant, Carter-Williams, Payne, Lavine, and Dunn), 3 of which can easily move to shooting guard. Backing up Wade they have Morrow, who didn’t really receive a whole lot of playing time, but has the potential to step up when given the opportunity. There’s also Valentine, who again didn’t get much time on the court, but provided very productive minutes. Moving to the 4 position, there’s Niko Mirotic and 1st round pick Lauri Markanen behind Bobby Portis. Niko is a free agent as of now, so it is completely up to Garpax as to whether or not to pursue him for another year. We all know about his potential danger beyond the 3 pt. line–well, we could say the same thing about Markanen–and if they were to work even harder at his post game and rebounding, they can be huge weapons in the near future. Last but not least, there’s the center position. Behind Robin, we have Christiano Felicio and Joffrey Lauvergne. Both have provided valuable minutes, and, depending on what Garpax does with Niko, Felicio might find himself working as power forward for the majority of the season.
So as you can see, the Bulls can go in many different directions with the talent that they have. Let’s just hope it’s in the right direction. And as bad as this may sound, releasing Rondo and trading Butler may be a small step towards the goal for Chicago; it will provide a whole lot more opportunity for our guards and allow them to start fresh. This team is young, and this team is hungry. Let’s hope it translates to good basketball.
As for Rajon Rondo, thank you for the time you put in for Chicago, and we all wish you the best of luck wherever you go. Regardless of where you end up, we hope that your game gets better as you move along. Just take a second thought before you say anything.