Rajon Rondo opens up on Bulls tenure, getting benched by Fred Hoiberg


Rajon Rondo opens up on Bulls tenure, getting benched by Fred Hoiberg

Rajon Rondo had a…unique...one-season stint with the Bulls. The team brought in the four-time All-Star and Dwyane Wade via free agency in summer 2016, forming the “Three Alphas” trio with Jimmy Butler in hopes of winning a championship.

The 2016-17 Bulls season was one not without controversy. Although the team advanced to the playoffs as a No. 8 seed, they experienced locker room disfunction that saw Wade and Butler pitted against Rondo and the younger players.

In an interview with Bleacher Report published on Saturday, Rondo opened up on his Bulls tenure, discussing a multitude of topics:

Rondo, on being benched for younger point guards:

We have a meeting the next day, and they say, 'We want to experiment,'” Rondo said. “I'm thinking we're trying for a championship. ... Why would you go younger when you have a future Hall of Famer [Dwyane Wade] and Jimmy Butler on the rise? We're not trying to win?

“People in my circle would tell me: 'Stay with it. Don't give them what they want. Don't overreact.' That was tough because knowing what I could do with this team, it was, [Expletive], I'm not even playing?' ... If you're going to start one- or two-year point guards with no experience, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler are going to eat their [expletive] up on the court. They won't even be a factor. I know how to keep guys happy. I know how to manage the offense, who needs shots, who doesn't."

The Bulls removed Rondo from the rotation for five games, keeping him off the court from the second half of a Dec. 30 game against the Pacers until Jan. 10 against the Wizards. Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams played ahead of him, hence his reference to going younger.

Including the Dec. 30 game, the Bulls went 3-3 without Rondo in the rotation. Behind his return to the floor, Wade and Butler, though, they snuck into the playoffs, taking  a 2-0 lead over the No. 1 seed Celtics in the quarterfinals. However, Boston won the next four games to clinch the series, with Rondo missing the action after breaking his thumb in Game 2.

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What to watch for: Bulls face off with Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers


What to watch for: Bulls face off with Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers

The Bulls look to bounce back against one of the league's best in the Clippers, tonight. The game tips at 7 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago — until then, here’s what to watch for:

Clippers’ last five (4-1)

  • Dec. 13 — W at Timberwolves: 124-117

  • Dec. 11 — W at Raptors: 112-92

  • Dec. 9 — W at Pacers: 110-99

  • Dec. 8 — W at Wizards: 135-119

  • Dec. 6 — L at Bucks: 119-91

Storyline(s) for each team

The Clippers come into this game with perhaps the deepest roster in the NBA — they have everything from top-tier star talent (Kawhi Leonard, Paul George), to specialized secondary options (Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley), to sparkplug role players (Landry Shamet, Montrezl Harrell, Moe Harkless, etc.) They’re 20-7 and own the second-best record in the Western Conference.

Like the Bulls, the Clippers are on the second night of a back-to-back (and the last night of a six-game road trip), so that full assortment of players won’t be in action. Leonard and Shamet have both already been ruled out. Williams and Beverley are questionable, but neither played the team’s game last night in Minnesota.

Whatever squad they field will likely still have an edge over the Bulls, who shot a paltry 27-for-90 from the field in an 83-73 loss to the Hornets on Friday. Jim Boylen was satisfied with the team’s defensive effort after that contest, but against the sixth-rated defense in the NBA, a markedly better offensive showing will be required to stay competitive against Los Angeles. Even without their full cast of characters, stealing this one would represent the Bulls’ best win of the season (for what it’s worth, not a compliment).

Player to watch: Paul George

George is set to suit up, and he’s a must-watch whenever he comes to town. Last night, him and Leonard combined to drop 88 points on the Timberwolves. It looked like a lot of fun:


Bulls fans are familiar with George’s exploits from his time with the Pacers, and he’s only leveled up further since leaving Indiana. Coming off a career year in Oklahoma City in which he finished third in MVP voting, he’s currently averaging 24.6 points on 39.9% 3-point shooting (10.2 attempts), and remains one of the preeminent wing defenders in the league. 

The Bulls haven’t had their lack of wing depth truly exposed by a team in a while. Unless Kris Dunn has an all-time defensive performance in him, the Clippers are about as safe a bet as any to exploit that mismatch.

Matchup to watch: Frontcourt rotations

Jim Boylen’s rotations have been scattershot all season, but in the wake of Thad Young requesting more minutes earlier this week, we reached peak randomness last night.  Franchise cornerstone Lauri Markkanen played 25 minutes, 34 seconds and at one point sat for nearly 15 consecutive game minutes. Young played 26 minutes, 33 seconds, Wendell Carter 23 minutes, 35 seconds and Daniel Gafford 20 minutes, 18 seconds. 

Boylen has often insisted that his goal is to win games while simultaneously developing all the players on his team, and all things considered, the Bulls have a pretty talented frontcourt rotation. But it’s unclear if their minutes being divvied up on a night-to-night basis (and seemingly on-the-fly) is consistent with either of those stated missions.

Against a dynamic Clippers frontcourt, this is worth monitoring. Expect more juggling to ensue.

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Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Bulls only score 73 points in loss to Charlotte


Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Bulls only score 73 points in loss to Charlotte

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, John Sabine, and David Watson react to the Bulls 83-73 loss to the Hornets.

0:30 - Will Perdue makes a cameo to start the show

1:00 - On only scoring 73 points

4:55 - Is this loss worse than the Celtics loss last season?

6:30 - Viewer comments on the loss and shooting too many threes

8:00 - Discussion on Thad Young minutes vs Lauri Markkanen minutes

12:10 - Viewer comment asking what would the Outsiders say if head coach

15:05 - Viewer comment on Tomas Satoransky

17:20 - Viewer trade idea for Terrance Ross

20:25 - Viewer comment on Coby White struggling

21:25 - Viewer comment on Kris Dunn starting

23:50 - Our ideas for other ‘theme’ nights for Bulls games

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Outsiders