Even if controversial Chicago Bulls guard Rajon Rondo can find a team where he is a good basketball fit — which is made difficult by his ball dominance and lack of shooting — it is hard to imagine him finding a place where he is a good fit in the locker room.
Trouble seems to follow the former Boston Celtics point guard no matter where he goes, including this season in Chicago which has seen him suspended for a blow up at an assistant coach, and later completely pulled from the rotation.
But it isn’t all enemies for Rondo in Chicago: he has a big time fan in Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic.
Via The Chicago Tribune:
Along with Pau (Gasol), [Rondo]’s the best teammate I’ve ever had,” Mirotic said.
“I feel so comfortable with him and I think all the young guys do. He’s very honest. He’s talking all the time, supporting before the game, after the game, during the practice. He’s always positive. Even if something is not going well, he’s trying to help young players. It’s been great to have him here.”
This comes after last night’s 121-108 Chicago victory over the Philadelphia 76ers where Mirotic and Rondo shared a good deal of time together on-the-court. Their chemistry was apparent in their play as they looked totally in-sync during some productive Bulls bench minutes. Mirotic ended the game a plus-15, while Rondo notched ten assists and ended up plus-14.
Mirotic went on to discuss how his relationship with Rondo has developed:
Before he came here, I didn’t know him very well,” Mirotic said. “I heard different stories. Like always, people said good things and people said bad things. But I never judge anyone before I meet them.”
“As soon as I met him, he was great to me. We had a positive connection with each other. For me, it’s a big pleasure to play with him, especially going through the tough times.”
Mirotic and Rondo’s chemistry can be seen as a positive result of a messy Bulls season. If coach Fred Hoiberg had stuck with Rondo as the starter, the team never would have discovered what a spark Rondo is for the bench unit.
The third-year forward from Spain also talked about how much Rondo has helped all of the young guys on Chicago’s bench:
I know it’s different for him coming from the bench,” Mirotic said. “He’s not used to it. But for us, the second unit, he’s huge. Doug (McDermott), Paul (Zipser) and I are feeling so great playing with him. He’s basically saying to us: ‘We’re going to have a ball. Just run. Play free.'”
This maybe speaks to the divide in the Bulls locker room, with the young bench players flocking to the divisive veteran point guard instead of the leadership of stars Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade. But if Rondo could maximize the potential of an interesting bench unit, it would be a huge boost to a Chicago team still looking to make a playoff run.