Rajon Rondo is once again switching teams this off-season, and will be a member of the New Orleans Pelicans in 2017-2018 after agreeing to a one-year pact with the team on Saturday.
The deal was first reported by The Vertical and confirmed by Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, who also added that Rondo is expected to start at point guard for the Pelicans, while pushing Jrue Holiday to shooting guard. Rondo is also reunited with his friend DeMarcus Cousins, as the two were able to get along very well during Rondo’s only year with the Sacramento Kings.
On Thursday, ESPN reported that Rondo had met with Pelicans officials that included general manager Dell Demps and head coach Alvin Gentry. The meeting went “excellent”, as we can tell by today’s agreement being reported and expected to become official in the coming days.
Rondo is coming off of a shaky year with the Chicago Bulls that showed promising signs at times, but the negatives outweighed the positives in the end, and that’s ultimately why Chicago chose to waive him, regardless of them now entering a rebuild mode.
Chicago was able to get off to a solid start to the season, but things quickly went sour after that. Rondo was benched for five straight games and came off the bench for the Bulls until mid-March. Rondo struggled to mesh with teammates Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, who all had similar ball-dominant playing styles like Rondo.
Two other incidents that also happened with Rondo in Chicago became very high-profiled in terms of public knowledge. Rondo was suspended for one game in December after he and Bulls assistant coach Jim Boylen in-exchanged in a heated verbal altercation that included Rondo towel-whipping Boylen in face. Then, Rondo took issue with Wade and Butler publicly on Instagram after how Wade and Butler called out the young players on the Bulls roster following a loss to the Atlanta Hawks the night before:
My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team. My vets didn't pick and choose when they wanted to bring it. They brought it every time they stepped in the gym whether it was practice or a game. They didn't take days off. My vets didn't care about their numbers. My vets played for the team. When we lost, they wouldn't blame us. They took responsibility and got in the gym. They showed the young guys what it meant to work. Even in Boston when we had the best record in the league, if we lost a game, you could hear a pin drop on the bus. They showed us the seriousness of the game. My vets didn't have an influence on the coaching staff. They couldn't change the plan because it didn't work for them. I played under one of the greatest coaches, and he held everyone accountable. It takes 1-15 to win. When you isolate everyone, you can't win consistently. I may be a lot of things, but I'm not a bad teammate. My goal is to pass what I learned along. The young guys work. They show up. They don't deserve blame. If anything is questionable, it's the leadership.
Even with everything Rondo was not in Chicago, he still had the support of coaches, teammates, and executives within the organization, especially the young players on the team. Chicago was up 2-0 in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs against his former team, the Boston Celtics before he broke his thumb. While Boston likely still would’ve won the series if Rondo was healthy, the Bulls pace of play and running the offense was very poor once Rondo went down.
In New Orleans, Rondo is expected to once again play on a team that is competing for the playoffs. We’ll see how the relationships on the team go, but as touched on above in the article, it’s a good thing Rondo has Cousins with him again.
The 31-year-old Rondo averaged 7.8 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.1 rebounds per game last season on 40% shooting from the field. For his career, Rondo has averages of 10.7 points, 8.5 assists, and 4.9 rebounds per game.
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