Among discussion about the Los Angeles Lakers’ trade rumors, his short tenure with the New Orleans Pelicans, and the importance of league veterans, Rondo also took on the Bulls. From being benched by Fred Hoiberg to watching the Bulls fall to the Boston Celtics in the first round, Rondo explained every controversial piece of his time in Chicago.
Rondo seemed to take specific exception to being benched, expressing confusion at why the Bulls’ coaching staff chose to try a younger starting lineup halfway through the season when he was told that their goal was to win a championship.
“You say this is what you wanted, but you trade for Cameron Payne and you start Michael Carter-Williams and Jerian Grant over me,” Rondo said. “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?”
In the stretch of 28 games that Rondo started on the bench, the Bulls went 12-16, with losses by 10 points or more. In 11 of those games, Carter-Williams, who replaced Rondo in the starting lineup, ended with a plus-minus in the negative.
By the time the Bulls reached the playoffs, it seems that Rondo had lost confidence in the Bulls’ coaching staff. Before the second game of the first round against the Boston Celtics, which would end up being Rondo’s last with the Bulls, Rondo says he worked with Butler and Wade to design a new offense to implement in the game without consulting Hoiberg.
“We put in the offense. I explained to them how we were all interchangeable in these positions and this is where you can attack. It was unbelievable because we went out and did it and we won,” Rondo said.
The Bulls won 111-97 over the Celtics, with all five Bulls starters scoring in double figures.
But the cost of a win was losing Rondo, who broke his thumb and was ruled out for the rest of the season. The Bulls didn’t win another game and were eliminated in the first round.
Although Rondo has long been known for his basketball IQ and court vision, Rondo says the Bulls’ coaching staff did not consult him on how to move forward after his injury. Instead, he says, they “put you on the shelf.”
“There was no, ‘Let’s figure this out, let’s go over the game plan,'” Rondo said. “I wouldn’t say it was satisfying…but what they did backfired on them.”
Despite the negative way he describes his Bulls tenure, Rondo says that the benefit of the season was his salary. Rondo made $14 million from the Bulls for the one season he spent in Chicago, which he says is the most he has ever made from a team in a single season.
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