If the Chicago Bulls are going to clinch a playoff berth, they’ll have to do it without Rajon Rondo.
Shoot, from what head coach Fred Hoiberg says, it seems like they’d have to play through the postseason without him, per ESPN.com’s Nick Friedell:
Fred Hoiberg says Rajon Rondo has ‘significant’ wrist injury. Rondo had visit with hand specialist today. Rondo is out tonight vs. Magic — sounds doubtful for Wednesday vs. Nets.
This kind of comes as a blow. During Dwyane Wade’s absence, Rondo shot better than 40 percent from three-point land, dished out plenty of assists, and the Bulls scored like a top-five offense when he was in the game, according to NBA.com. With their scoring machine being as inconsistent as it is, they could use the type of certainty he had sort come to provide.
And yet, this might be for the best, too.
Rondo and Wade don’t work together. They just don’t. Neither spaces the floor, and both need the ball. When they play without Jimmy Butler, the Bulls get outscored by 24.9 points per 100 possessions. When they play with Butler, Chicago is better but still a net negative. Trying to clinch a playoff spot or make some noise in the postseason would be hella hard with both Rondo and Wade playing heavy minutes.
Of course, the Bulls will still run into this issue. Michael Carter-Williams and Jerian Grant aren’t stark off-ball upgrades over Rondo, and Chicago isn’t playing Cameron Payne, who showed promise as a spot-up shooter with the Oklahoma City Thunder as a rookie in 2014-15.
Anyhow, if Rondo’s season is over, either because the Bulls don’t make the playoffs or because he physically can’t play, his time in Chicago might be drawing to a close. He has a non-guaranteed salary for next season, and despite his uptick in production, the Bulls need to get spacier over the offseason—especially if the indications are Wade will exercise his player option to return.