Rajon Rondo gets real about why Bulls didn’t succeed during their Dwyane Wade-Jimmy Butler era

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Two of the greatest players to ever suit up for the Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, were once teammates when Wade joined the Chicago Bulls in the 2016 offseason. They formed a trio with Rajon Rondo.

Considering the statures of all three players at the time, expectations were certainly high for the team. Unfortunately, a potentially explosive campaign turned out to be a dud, as the Bulls barely made it to the playoffs, earning the No. 8 seed with a 41-41 record. It didn’t take long for them to bow out of contention after getting eliminated by the Boston Celtics in six games in the first round.

Rondo recently appeared on J.J. Redick’s podcast and answered the host’s question on why the Bulls weren’t “a little bit better.”

“Chemistry, it wasn’t there,” Rondo replied. “Like I mentioned earlier, Jimmy and D-Wade, they kind of were on their own as far as, I guess, even in practice, even off the court, which, again, every team is different, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there wasn’t really a connect between the old guys and the young. That was why it was so much friction throughout the year.”

Wade leaving the Heat in 2016 was a surprising move given his rich history with the franchise. Unfortunately, he couldn’t see eye to eye with the front office in contract talks, pushing him to depart his team of 13 years and sign with his hometown squad.

Some skeptics had reservations about how Chicago could make a roster led by Butler, Wade and Rondo work. But the point guard addressed the concerns by saying the squad had “three alphas” while adding that the Bulls were Butler’s team.

As it turned out, the doubts weren’t unfounded. The Bulls failed to meet expectations, looking disjointed on the court. While their defense certainly kept them in contention for a playoff spot, their offense didn’t look inspiring. Chicago finished the 2016-17 campaign scoring just 102.9 points per game, which ranked 23rd in the league.

The Bulls also nearly missed the postseason. At one point near the end of the regular season, they fell to as low as the No. 10 spot. A late surge allowed them to climb to the top eight, ending the regular season in a tie with, incidentally, the Heat. Unfortunately for Miami, Chicago owned the tiebreaker for the No. 8 seed.

Chicago’s trio was disbanded after just one season. Wade signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2017 offseason and made his Heat homecoming in the middle of the 2017-18 season. As for Butler, he had eventful tenures with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers before joining Miami in 2019.

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Orel writes all day, everyday. During the day, he writes and does research to complete his master's degree in education. During the night, he writes about the league he has loved since the '90s: the NBA.