Rajon Rondo is not the same player he used to be. He is not the player that scored 40 points in the playoffs against Miami, and averaged 12 assists in the 2011-12 playoffs.
But that’s OK. Not many people are capable of doing what prime-Rondo was.
His very short stint in Dallas left his legacy in question. His season in Sacramento was quietly terrific, as he led the league in assists per game. But because of the team’s struggles and the nature of playing in Sacramento nowadays, it went relatively unnoticed.
Fast-forward to the 2016 offseason, and as Mike Conley signs a five-year, $150 million contract, Rajon Rondo settles for a two-year, $28 million deal – which many NBA executives thought he was lucky to get.
Rondo made an instant impression on Bulls fans, as Chicago had a good start to the season, and Rondo notched a triple-double in a win against Cleveland. But as Chicago travelled to Dallas the next night, things took a turn for the worse.
Rondo managed just two points and two assists as the Bulls fell to the lowly Mavs, and this was where the struggles for Rondo began. He soon found himself out of the rotation entirely, missing five consecutive games due to coach’s decision.
He was then brought in off the bench for a long stretch of games, in which he admirably led the young bench unit of Chicago which was previously among the league’s worst. Fast-forward to today, and he is back in the starting line-up.
This roller-coaster ride has further put a dint in the terrific career he was building. Fans of the NBA have seen him benched, fined for an altercation with an assistant coach and then confined to a role off the bench.
What they haven’t seen is his support for Fred Hoiberg in a time where the city of Chicago is calling for his head. They haven’t seen the leadership he has provided to the likes of Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine.
They haven’t seen his efforts to dive for a loose ball on the second night of a back-to-back. They have only seen what the media has shown them.
His season has by no means been perfect. He let his emotions get the best of him on one occasion, and has not shot the ball as well as he could (39 per cent from the field.) He hasn’t been the old Rondo, but with an ageing body who would expect that of him?
Instead he has worked hard, and accepted the role that he has been given. Despite the lack of communication from Fred Hoiberg, he has done all that has been asked of him.
His time in Dallas will be an asterisk on his career – and rightly so. His attitude was poor and he hurt his team. But this season in Chicago should not take away from his days in Boston – but rather add to the resume he was building.
What has been on display for all to see is his truly great basketball mind. Rarely has he made a poor decision with the ball, and his ability to read the defence and take what they are giving him is terrific.
The Chicago Bulls as an organisation are a rabble, just as the Sacramento Kings were (and still are.) But Rondo has been the ultimate professional in the most trying of circumstances, and as NBA fans we need to appreciate what he is doing.