The Chicago Bulls signed Rajon Rondo, not too long ago a sworn enemy playing for a rival. Now, in the midst of some weird changes and an unknown direction, the Bulls pair him up with their anointed new face of the franchise in the backcourt, Jimmy Butler.
The title really is generic, but this isn’t just a case of they’ll succeed or they’ll fail; that’s obvious. The potential here in both directions is quite grande: The two can make one impressive SG-PG pairing, and if Rondo is motivated, can also be one of the best in the league defensively. However, the personalities clashing and the need for both players to have the ball in their hands might turn this into a grande disaster, and on the way end the Fred Hoiberg experiment, although if there will be someone to blame for future failure, it has to be the pairing of Gar Forman and John Paxson.
Rondo coming in bolsters an already rather deep backcourt (Denzel Valentine the rookie, Jose Calderon joining in the trade, like Jerian Grant, and the already existing Tony Snell. Unless Butler plays more of a ‘3’ next season, the Bulls are hurting at the position. Snell (maybe) and Mike Dunleavy aren’t that a whole lot to offer, and no one really knows what Doug McDermott’s position is at the moment. The frontcourt has its four man rotation with Nikola Mirotic, Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis and Robin Lopez. Maybe Pau Gasol comes back too?
In theory, the Bulls could start Rondn and Valentine together in the backcourt, while Butler plays small forward. Or Rondo-Butler-Snell, hard to say. Hoiberg, through all the injuries and problems last season, wasn’t quite sure who was the right man in which position too. The Bulls might have to trade one of their point guards, or maybe buyout Calderon, who’ll be 35 by the time the season begins. The roster looks anything but balanced at the moment.
One thing that Hoiberg should be happy to see is the pace picking up. The Sacramento Kings, with Rondo, had the highest pace in the NBA last season at 102.2. The Bulls were only 13th in the NBA, with Butler and Rose playing too much iso ball, each in his own turn. Hoiberg failed to install the offense he had working so well for him back in Iowa State, and while not everything translates well from college to the pros, playing quicker basketball, with flexibility in terms of positions, and a whole lot of shooting (not that great with Lopez and Rondo), is what Hoiberg wants to see from this team. Maybe it’ll be easier for him now.
Butler says he’s ready for the challenge, and that he’ll do well with teammates and the head coach. It wasn’t quite clear what happened last season, all depending on which rumor to believe, but something was broken, besides players’ bones. Rondo adds another keg of powder to the equation, and it’ll be up to Hoiberg to keep it from exploding. Those saying the Bulls are tanking could see their predictions explode in their faces with good basketball and returning to the playoffs. However, a different kind of explosion could mean Chicago need to start from scratch, on the court and in the front office.