The Chicago Bulls are officially down to one Alpha.
In a widely expected move since last week’s Jimmy Butler trade, the Bulls waived Rajon Rondo on Friday, whose contract would’ve been guaranteed at $13.4 million if had been on the roster when the new NBA calendar year begins at 12:01 p.m. Eastern time.
Instead, the Bulls owe $3 million to the former University of Kentucky star, whose free-agent market might take time to gain traction but ultimately should be a busy one after his strong playoff performance.
The Bulls also waived former Murray State standout Isaiah Canaan, whose $1.5 million salary for next season carried a $200,000 guarantee if cut before the start of Friday night’s free agency.
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Rondo endured a turbulent year in which he moved from primary target in free agency to starting point guard to completely out of the rotation to mentor and leader of the young core to near-savior as he led the Bulls to a 2-0 first-round playoff lead over the heavily favored Celtics. Then, Rondo fractured his right thumb on top of a significant wrist injury he had played through.
Rondo, who coined the nickname “The Three Alphas” shortly after his and Dwyane Wade’s signing, averaged 7.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.7 assists in 26.7 minutes over 69 games.
Shortly after the season ended, management stated its desire to bring back Rondo, a locker room favorite of the younger players even before his Instagram post defending those players in light of Wade’s and Butler’s critical comments from January. But Butler’s trade signaled a shift in direction.
And even though Rondo would’ve served as a strong mentor for the young players, he wants to play and the Bulls want to give minutes to Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne for the rebuild.
The Bulls are focused on re-signing Nikola Mirotic and Cristiano Felicio in restricted free agency. They also likely will add one or two more players at some point later in free agency.
There are no current plans to engage in buyout talks with Wade.