The Chicago Bulls have clearly changed direction, revamping the roster at last week's NBA Draft by trading Jimmy Butler for three young prospects.
On Tuesday, the Bulls introduced their newest players -- Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen -- but it's one of their veterans who has everyone in suspense. The Bulls have until Friday to decide if they want to buy out point guard Rajon Rondo for $3 million or keep him and pay his full $13.4 million salary next season.
Chicago vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said it is "still to be determined" whether the Bulls will retain Rondo or buy him out. According to the Associated Press, the team was planning to meet with Rondo's agent, Bill Duffy, on Tuesday.
Rondo, 31, had a tumultuous year with the Bulls last season after coming over from Sacramento. At times he was their starter -- at times he was their third-string point guard -- but he was productive when he was on the court, averaging 7.8 points, 6.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds in nearly 27 minutes per game.
It was during the playoffs, however, when Rondo reminded the Bulls of his old self. He averaged 11.5 points, 10.0 assists and 8.5 rebounds as Chicago took a 2-0 lead on the No. 1-seeded Celtics before an injury sidelined him for the rest of the series.
Rondo doesn't appear to fit with the youth movement in Chicago, but the Bulls could be looking for a mentor for their young guards. Paxson and the Bulls also have to make a decision about Dwyane Wade, who is owed $23.8 million next season. When asked about Wade, Paxson said the idea of a Wade buyout "has not been broached" and that for now he expects Wade to play for Chicago.
If Rondo and/or Wade end up on the free agent market through a buyout, however, expect a serious bidding war to take place among contenders looking for veteran backcourt leadership.
>>Knicks, Phil Jackson Expected To Part Ways
It looks like New York Knicks president Phil Jackson's job isn't as secure as previously thought. Despite many public proclamations that Jackson will remain in charge until the end of his contract, Knicks owner James Dolan is reportedly expected to part ways with Jackson "early Wednesday morning," according to ESPN's Ramona Shelbune.
The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, who first reported that Dolan was weighing Jackson's future, amended his report to note that the Dolan-Jackson "partnership could end as soon as Wednesday."
In a series of tweets, Shelburne noted that the Knicks have decided not to buy out star forward Carmelo Anthony, which "accelerated" conversations between Dolan and Jackson as Jackson has made it clear he wanted to move on from Melo.
Back in April, it was reported that New York picked up the option on the rest of Jackson's contract, which runs through the end of the 2018-19 season.
Jackson's tenure with the Knicks has been marked by the sort of dysfunction that his arrival was supposed to end. The Charles Oakley incident wasn't his fault, but the Carmelo Anthony saga has harmed his reputation, and his decision to go after veterans like Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah has set the franchise back.
Jackson spoke openly about moving Anthony and building something new, but the would-be franchise player, Kristaps Porzingis, is unhappy with the organization and was recently made available in trade talks, which Jackson discussed in a television interview. With free agency around the corner, Anthony reportedly seeking a buyout and Porzingis a fan of Anthony, it is entirely unclear what the team might look like next season.
There are two years and $24 million left on the contract of the 71-year-old Jackson. He has spent the last three years running the Knicks.