The Rajon Rondo file has another suspension to the ledger, as he was suspended by the Bulls for one game for “conduct detrimental to the team” and will miss Monday night’s game against the Portland Trailblazers.
It’s the seventh incident in the past few years for Rondo where he’s been suspended by the NBA or the team he’s played for, which of course brings up queries as to the event in question.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg wouldn’t elaborate on what took place, only that he met with Rondo Sunday and that the two are on the same page. Saturday night, the Bulls lost in blowout fashion to the Dallas Mavericks, Rondo’s former team.
A source said he used some foul language to some assistant coaches, although he apologized afterwards to the team. Another source said he threw a towel at associate head coach Jim Boylen during a heated exchange.
Boylen and Rondo apparently have a relationship where they can go back and forth, and the two work with each other daily, as most players have assistant coaches they align themselves with based off positions or personalities.
“I wasn’t there, but we’re ready to go. He’s gonna have fresh legs tomorrow,” said Dwyane Wade, who missed Saturday’s game due to rest. “As players we back each other and support each other. This is an emotional game and guys have emotional moments. They handle it the way they feel is best.”
Apparently, a line was crossed during the exchange and considering the fact the Bulls have encouraged the veteran players to be vocal, one wonders if it’s a slippery slope that will allow for certain situations to arise.
Rondo, Wade and Jimmy Butler have had the latitude to speak up in practices through training camp and film sessions, as Hoiberg wanted this group to be more player-led than previously, and seemingly the slippery slope backfired on one occasion.
“He and I met yesterday, had a good meeting. He’ll meet us at the plane tonight,” Hoiberg said. “He’ll be back in uniform tomorrow night against Detroit and moving forward. As far as details guys, I’m not going to get in the details of it. We’re going to move past it, and again he’ll be back in uniform tomorrow.”
Hoiberg shut down every question about Rondo, only saying it wasn’t a physical altercation with any players or members of the coaching staff. With Rondo’s history of situations, Hoiberg said he understood the line of questioning but tried to walk the line of supporting the player as well.
“Sure, I understand that,” Hoiberg said. “But I’ll say this, Rajon, as we’ve all said, has been great. A great teammate. I’ve enjoyed the relationship that we developed, and again it’s not going to change moving forward.”
Rondo is averaging 8.2 points, 7.2 assists and 6.7 rebounds in 17 games, and is coming off a poor showing against Dallas, where he had five turnovers and just two points, two rebounds and two assists.
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The Bulls play the Pistons Tuesday to complete their four games in five nights stretch, and Jerian Grant will start in Rondo’s place.
“(Rondo’s) been great. I think this is just another bump in the road,” said Jimmy Butler, who also wouldn’t elaborate on what led to the suspension. “He's a phenomenal damn teammate and I back him on everything.”
When asked whether he agreed with the organizational decision to suspend Rondo, Butler said: “It's not my job to agree or disagree.”
Butler positioned himself as a big Rondo backer Monday in speaking to the media, as the two were together for an NBA Cares event with Robin Lopez Sunday afternoon.
“I don't feel his reputation fits him at all. Rondo's an incredible basketball player, friend, brother to me now, to us,” Butler said. “I think we love him here. I think the fans love him as well, the organization, I think everyone has nothing but great things to say about him. I don't see where that reputation came from at all.”
Butler wouldn’t even admit to being disappointed about the situation, choosing to stay out of the fray and not issue any controversial statements.
“Nope. Not at all. These things happen, and when things happen you handle it the way you're supposed to handle it,” Butler said. “I think we all love Rondo. I know I do. He's been a great mentor to me, he's made me a much better basketball player. We've got to go out and get one tonight.”