The Bulls have hit the rebuild button. It’s important to get younger, more athletic, and develop young talent. So Rajon Rondo is not coming back right? Not so fast.
Rondo, who played a huge role in mentoring the younger players on the Bulls last season, holds a team option for the 2017-2018.
The NBA champion proved to be a major piece in the Bulls success in games one and two of the opening round of the playoffs. He ran the floor, found the open player with ease and led the Bulls to a commanding 2-0 over the top seeded Boston Celtics. And after going down with a broken thumb, the Bulls did not look the same for the rest of the series.
After the season concluded, Bulls vice president John Paxson said there is a “really good chance” that the Bulls would bring Rondo back.
“As we get younger, it’s still really important to have quality veterans around your young players,” Paxson said. “To a man, our young people loved Rajon. He was great in the locker room. He was great off the court with these guys. He took them under his wing in a lot of ways, and he was responsible for a lot of the good things that came from them. We have a lot of respect for Rajon, especially how he believes in the game.”
Paxson makes a great point. You need veterans surrounding the younger players on the team to help with development and life in the NBA. But with bringing Rondo back, various problems would exist.
In the blockbuster trade on draft day, the Bulls traded their All-star Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves for Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine. The Bulls were high on Dunn last season and attempted to trade up in the draft to acquire him. Now, he is a centerpiece of the rebuild in Chicago. Which leads us to the first problem with keeping Rondo: the overflow of point guards.
Currently, the Bulls have five point guards: Rondo, Cameron Payne, Isiah Canaan, Jerian Grant, and Dunn. The Bulls did not offer Michael Carter-Williams a qualifying offer so he will become a free agent.
That’s a lot of point guards on the roster. There is no way Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg can play everyone. And now that the Bulls are in full rebuild mode, Dunn and Payne are the priority.
Rondo is not going to come back and expect to play in garbage time or just a few minutes a night. He is going to want a defined role, probably the starting job. The Bulls have to understand that while the veteran presence is important, Rondo is a roadblock in playing the younger guys.
Now, multiple people have said Payne should spend some time in the G-league and develop his game. But that should not be the case. The Bulls traded Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and 2nd round pick to acquire him. They were on high coming out of the draft and giving up that much for him, he needs to be in the NBA. For the team sake and the fans sake. Payne did not show much promise last season but you have to remember that he sat behind now MVP Russell Westbrook and did not have a consistent role.
So there is one reason why Rondo should not be brought back. The Bulls have to let their young point guards play to develop and for the Bulls front office to find out what they are dealing with.
Another reason bringing back Rondo would slow down the rebuild is his cap hit. If the Bulls were to decline his option, they would save $13.3 million toward the cap space.
One of the most important part of rebuilding is signing young free agents in hopes of continuing their development and becoming apart of their “core”. Rondo is 31 and bringing him back puts a bad dent in the rebuild. There are some young and intriguing free agents this off-season, and with the hopes of rebuilding your roster, you want to bring in a 24 year old compared to Rondo who is 31.
Especially during the playoffs, it was fun to watch Rondo run the offense. While his defense was non-existent most of the time, you cannot deny his impact in finding the open man on the offensive side of the court. His vision and speed set up his teammates for easy buckets and built chemistry with Rondo.
But a rebuild is not about fun and games. It’s about developing young talent and finding your next superstar. It’s a process, painful at the start, but every year the team is making some sort of strides. The Bulls are not going to be a good basketball team this year, they just won’t be. With a lot of young players who are unproven and will now be placed in a more consistent role, there will be growing pains. But with the help of some top draft picks in the coming years and hopefully a free agent splash in the near future, Bulls fans will see this rebuild through.
Do not bring back Rondo. His age and cost is not a road the Bulls should go down. While his presence was helpful for the younger guys, there are many other factors that go into bringing a player like him back. Remember, Rondo is still considered a hot head and is known to butt heads with coaches and the staff, we saw an instant of this last season when he lost his starting job. Clear the way for the young guys to play–a lot by letting Rondo walk. It’s that simple.