Benched Rondo meets with GM about future
CHICAGO — After he was benched for the entirety of Saturday night’s 116-96 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo met with general manager Gar Forman to discuss his role on the team moving forward.
“Gar and I will talk,” Rondo said after the game. “We’re going to talk tonight and we’ll go from there.”
Rondo acknowledged that if the Bulls continue to keep him on the bench, he will speak to management about trying to find a new team.
“Absolutely,” he said.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg also sat Rondo for the second half of Friday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers. Rondo said he was “not surprised” by Hoiberg’s decision to bench him in favor of Michael Carter-Williams.
“It’s been a tough season for us right now,” Rondo said. “It’s been ups and downs. Certain buttons are being pushed. The Bulls are trying to figure things out.”
Hoiberg said before Saturday’s game that he and Rondo had a meeting to discuss his decision.
“[Hoiberg] told me that I’ve been looking slow the last five games,” Rondo said. “He asks me all the time, ‘Am I healthy?’ I responded, saying that I think this is the best I’ve ever felt this part of the season, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Rondo said he disagreed with the message that he looked slow in recent games.
“But that’s part of it,” he said. “He’s the head coach and we’re going to go with that.”
Hoiberg noted after Saturday’s game that the benching is not permanent.
“We’ll continue to evaluate it, see what direction we go,” he said. “He was great over there on the bench, cheering for guys, and being professional. We’ll see how it plays out and we’ll evaluate it again before the next one.”
Rondo was asked if he felt he was being singled out in a season in which there are many flaws on the roster of the Bulls (16-18).
“I’m Rajon Rondo,” he said. “It is what it is.”
For his part, Rondo said he needed to work on his “pick-up point on defense,” but he hasn’t had many good games this season, averaging just 7.2 points and struggling defensively. He was suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team after a verbal argument with assistant coach Jim Boylen in a Dec. 3 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Rondo also whipped a towel at Boylen during that game, drawing the ire of the Bulls’ front office.
Hoiberg made it clear before Saturday’s game that it was his decision to bench Rondo, calling it a “basketball” move.
“I’m coming off a pretty good year in Sacramento,” Rondo said. “I was able to do a little bit of things differently, but obviously I knew coming in here playing with Dwyane and Jimmy would be different. That was OK with me. Fred and I talked in the beginning, said I would be able to call a lot of the plays. But the flow of the game and throughout the season, things may change. Fred and I spoke earlier, and we talked about it.”
So where do Rondo and the Bulls go now?
Rondo signed a two-year deal with Chicago last summer, but only the first season is fully guaranteed.
“I’m going to explode,” Rondo said jokingly. “Nah, I’m not going to explode. I’m going to continue to work, get some work in. Play more one-on-one, take care of my body, lift and give these young guys as much advice as I can while I’m out there on the bench supporting them.”