The Bulls Made a Huge Mistake By Signing Rajon Rondo
The Chicago Bulls made the first big trade of the NBA offseason when they traded Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks. Most saw this as a big sign that the rebuilding process had begun in Chicago. However, even with several low-cost and solid point guards left on the market, the Bulls made the unexplainable move of signing Rajon Rondo to be their new starting point guard.
Rondo is the exact opposite of what the Bulls need right now. They just traded away one ball-dominant point guard for another, and while Rondo's assist numbers are flashy, they are misleading. Plus, even though his name brings a lot of value, that's about all he brings to Chicago.
Smoke and Mirrors
Rondo did lead the league in assists last season, which is an impressive accomplishment, especially considering he hasn't done it before. He was third in assist rate behind only Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook at 48 percent. However, he also led the league in turnover rate among qualified players at 24.7 percent. While his raw assist numbers are good, his turnovers negate a lot of good assists he did make.
Another big mystery as to why the Bulls would shell out this much money for a past-his-prime point guard is how bad of a locker room influence Rondo has been over his career. Chicago will be his fourth team in three seasons, and that doesn't happen without some serious issues with coaches and/or teammates. Stories like the time Doc Rivers tried to fight Rondo in the locker room, or the time all the Dallas Mavericks agreed to not give Rondo a playoff share are littered throughout the last few seasons, and his issues with coaches reportedly go all the way back to college and high school. Not good for a young team with a young head coach trying to rebuild.
It would be easier to ignore Rondo's bad behavior if he actually was still a good player, but the fact is that he isn't. In fact, according to our own and other advanced metrics, he wasn't even a top point guard in an already very thin point guard market.
We have already established that Mike Conley was easily the best point guard on the market, but while there was a steep drop off after Conley, Rondo's performance last season compared to other free agent point guards didn't warrant Chicago giving him $14 million per season.
|Player||nERD||PER||Win Shares/48 Min||Average Yearly Salary|
|Rajon Rondo||-1.5||16.9||.087||$14 million|
|Matthew Dellavedova||-0.4||11.3||.098||$9.6 million|
|Seth Curry||0.0||13.8||.097||$3 million|
|D.J. Augustin||0.2||18.0||.139||$7.25 million|
It's pretty obvious that the Bulls overpaid for Rondo by a lot. They would have been better served going out and outbidding the Mavericks for Seth Curry or even bringing in a guy like Mario Chalmers, who played very well before getting hurt last season.
While Rondo gets credit for the steals he produces, these, too, are misleading. Last season his defended field goal percentage was 46 percent, over two percentage points higher than the average shooting percentage of the players he was defending. When those players got by him, it was even worse. Players Rondo defended shot 71.2 percent inside of six feet last season, which indicates that Rondo wasn't making it tough for opponents around the rim.
Rondo was also poor in pick and roll situations last season. Despite executing the pick and roll in about 40 percent of the Kings' plays while he was on the court last season, Rondo only averaged 0.75 points per possession in the pick and roll with an effective field goal percentage of just 48.6. He turned the ball over nearly 24 percent of his pick and roll attempts as a ball handler last season, and he ranked in the bottom half of the league in pick and roll offense last season.
Even when he did pass the ball last year, it wasn't always putting his teammates in a position to make shots. DeMarcus Cousins was on the receiving end of more than 28 percent of Rondo's passes last season, but he shot only 47.7 percent from the floor when he got a pass from Rondo. With a net rating of -3.4 in 2015-16, Rondo did not make the Kings better when he was on the court.
Now he is taking his "talents," to the Windy City, but compared to the other point guards already on Chicago's roster, as well as others who signed for less money this summer, the Bulls overpaid for a below-average point guard.