Rajon Rondo, who spent last year dipping in and out of the Chicago Bulls’ rotations, has agreed on a one-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.
The person requested anonymity because the deal wasn’t announced publicly.
Rondo, an 11-year vet, had a tumultuous run with the Bulls last season before suffering a fractured thumb in their first round postseason matchup against the Boston Celtics. It was largely Rondo who helped engineer a 2-0 lead before the injury occurred.
Rondo fell completely out of the Bulls’ rotation last season for a stretch of five games in January before coach Fred Hoiberg came to rely on him as a veteran presence. Rondo was routinely praised by his teammates for mentoring the team’s younger players.
He also called out veterans Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler in an Instagram post in January after they had publicly criticized some of their other teammates.
Rondo averaged 7.8 points and 6.7 assists last year with the Bulls, marks that were significantly lower than his career averages of 10.7 points and 8.5 assists.
The 31-year-old will back up incumbent starter Jrue Holiday, who recently agreed to a 5-year, $126 million dollar deal to stay in New Orleans.
The Vertical first reported the news.
The New Orleans Pelicans have reached a one-year deal with free-agent point guard Rajon Rondo, a source confirmed to The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears on Saturday.
Sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe on Thursday that Pelicans officials — which included general manager Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry — met with Rondo and that it went “excellent.”
Rondo’s agreement with the Pelicans was first reported by The Vertical.
Rondo surged in the playoffs before breaking his thumb after what had been a largely disappointing and turbulent season with the Chicago Bulls in which he averaged 7.8 points and 6.7 assists — well below his career averages of 10.7 points and 8.5 assists per game.
The Pelicans re-signed Jrue Holiday to a five-year, $126 million guaranteed deal that could be worth more than $150 million with incentives, but they were intrigued by the possibility of shifting Holiday off the ball for large chunks of games, sources told ESPN.
New Orleans did not have a traditional backup point guard after trading Tim Frazier to the Washington Wizards for a second-round pick.
Rondo played with Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento during the 2015-16 season, and the two formed a strong bond.
In their lone season together, Rondo averaged a league-leading 11.7 assists per game, to along with 11.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals. He recorded 237 assists to Cousins — his most assists to one player in a single season.
This will be Rondo’s fifth team dating to the 2014-15 season.
After helping the Bulls get off to a solid start in November, Rondo struggled to find his form alongside ball-dominant players like Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. He was benched for five straight games in late December/early January and didn’t re-enter the starting lineup until mid-March.
Rondo was suspended for one game in early December for conduct detrimental to the team after a verbal altercation with assistant coach Jim Boylen, including towel-whipping him in the face.
Aside from that incident, Rondo was praised repeatedly by coaches, teammates and executives for his professional approach. He was lauded throughout the organization for the leadership he exhibited toward younger players on the roster. Those bonds strengthened even more in late January after Rondo took to Instagram to rip Wade and Butler for how they called out younger players in the wake of a loss to the Atlanta Hawks a night earlier.