It took the Bulls a couple days, but their patient and methodic approach to free agency resulted in a two-year deal with point guard Rajon Rondo, the NBA’s leader in assists last season.
Rondo and the Bulls agreed to a two-year deal worth $30 million, according to sources and the second year is a partial guarantee, according to someone with knowledge of the deal, which can’t be formally announced until July 7.
It doesn’t fit the bill of the Bulls trying to get younger and more athletic, as Rondo is a couple years removed from a torn ACL in 2013 and just turned 30 in January.
But clearly the Bulls were not enamored with the free agent market and it would not be a surprise to see the team go with a reasonable facsimile to the roster that’s in place and search for a quality wing in the trade market as opposed to the free-agent bonanza that’s taking place.
Rondo has had issues with coaches like Doc Rivers and Rick Carlisle (Dallas), so how he fits with Fred Hoiberg will be an interesting test of Hoiberg’s ability to adapt and Rondo in general.
Rondo spent the last two seasons out west with Dallas and Sacramento, respectively, before coming back east as he is most known for his years with the Boston Celtics (2006-15).
Rondo will form an interesting backcourt with Jimmy Butler as they are ball-dominant and neither are proficient long-range shooters, although Rondo shot a career-high 36.5 percent from 3-point range last season.
Where Rondo differs from Derrick Rose is Rondo’s ability to be a natural distributor could lead to some optimism for his fit with Butler, if Rondo can get Butler easier shots around the rim as well as for some of the younger Bulls who have not yet learned to create for themselves.
It could alleviate some of the pressure on Butler to be scorer and facilitator, as Rondo averaged 11.7 assists last season—his fourth in double digits, all since the 2010-11 season.
[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]
Rondo was one of the league’s premier defenders at the point guard spot from his days in Boston when he played alongside Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, but his defensive rating dropped to 107 points per 100 possessions with the Sacramento Kings last year.
Time will tell if playing next to a dedicated defender like Butler will rekindle some of the muscle memory that made Rondo feared as the head of a defense.
It’s not a splashy home-run, but the Bulls achieved an objective of acquiring a point guard for a decent price.