File this under “Things I wouldn’t have believed two months ago”: the Chicago Bulls likely want Rajon Rondo to return next year.
In his end-of-season address with Gar Forman, John Paxson said that there was a “really good chance” that the Bulls would exercise their second-year option with Rondo. This would pay him $13.4 million to stay with the team next season as the Bulls apparently aim to try once again to compete with the team they’ve got.
When Chicago signed Rondo to a two-year, $28-million deal last summer, most fans knew they could be in for a roller-coaster ride. And they were. On top of getting suspended in December for an altercation with assistant coach Jim Boylen, he got benched in January for not running the offense up to standards. Furthermore, he got into a social media beef with his own teammates—Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade—over Instagram about the leadership of the team.
At that point, it certainly looked like his tenure as a Bull would be in jeopardy at the end of the season. But then, Rondo made the most of his demotion, dominating games off the bench until he earned his way back into the starting lineup. From there, he was arguably the biggest driving force in Chicago’s playoff push,
And then, when the Bulls snuck into the playoffs with the eighth seed, Rondo led them to two straight shocking wins over the top-seeded Boston Celtics on the road. Of course, that’s when his magic, and the Bulls’, ran out: Rondo broke his right thumb and missed the rest of the series, and Chicago didn’t win another game.
Needless to say, Rondo’s fall and subsequent resurrection as the heart and soul of the Bulls was quite an intriguing storyline. But beyond that, his ability to rise above the adversity of this season and lead a struggling Bulls team to the playoffs clearly resonated with the front office.
Whether or not he stays in Chicago for all of next year is up for debate—he’d have an expiring contract that they could trade away. And with the possibility that Jimmy Butler could still be dealt, who knows what this team could look like in 2018? But for now, Rondo, against all odds, looks like he could be a Chicago Bull when next season starts. Who’d have thought?