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Rajon Rondo says Bulls benching him during 2016-17 season ‘backfired on them’

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo says the Chicago Bulls’ decision to bench him during the 2016-17 season ultimately “backfired on them.”

The Bulls benched Rondo for Michael Carter-Williams and Jerian Grant after the 33rd game of the season. However, Chicago went back to Rondo as the starter late in the season and the veteran guard played very well, averaging 12.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 8.0 assists over his last 13 games to close out the season.

The Bulls then shocked the world by winning the first two games of the 2017 playoffs against the Boston Celtics on the road. Rondo was magnificent in two games against his former team, putting up 11.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 10.0 assists while shooting 42.3 percent from the field.

Rondo, though, suffered a broken thumb in Game 2 and missed the rest of the series. As a result, the Bulls lost four straight and the series all together.

“I wouldn’t say it was satisfying … [but] what they did backfired on them,” Rondo told Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report. “There was no, ‘Let’s figure this out, let’s go over the game plan.’ It was, ‘We’re done with you, put you on the shelf,’ and then obviously they had to come back to me. I finished playing Game 2 with a broken thumb, and then we don’t win another game. How is that even possible? I guess I am important.”

Rondo only played one season with the Bulls. He signed with the New Orleans Pelicans in the summer of 2017 and played with the Los Angeles Lakers this past season.

Could Chicago have upset the Celtics if Rajon Rondo played the whole series? It’s quite possible. One thing is certain, though: The Bulls made a mistake by benching Rondo during the middle of the season. They might have gotten a higher seed in the playoffs if they stuck with Rondo as the starter.