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Rajon Rondo is Team USA's final cut, but why?

Aug 24, 2010, 2:26 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for rondo_team_usa.jpgTeam USA officially announced its 12-man roster this afternoon, and Rajon Rondo is not on it. That much we know for sure, but from there, everything starts to get a bit fuzzy.

Rondo saw the writing on the wall with regard to his benching in Sunday’s exhibition game against Spain, but Jerry Colangelo’s explanation for Rondo’s exclusion has little to do with basketball or on-court fit:

“Rajon came to us and said
he was going to withdraw from the team, that he had some family matters
to attend to and some things to take care of before the NBA season. He
did an outstanding job during our training, we appreciate the effort
and commitment he made to our program and he completely has our
support.”

That could very well be true. Or it could be Colangelo covering for his decision, which as ESPN’s Henry Abbott pointed out on Twitter, wouldn’t be anything new. The best way to determine the truth is to wait and gauge Rondo’s reaction to the situation. If Rondo really does need to attend to family matters, wash his hair, and return some video tapes, then there shouldn’t be any hard feelings between him and the Team USA brass. But if Mike Krzyzewski, Jerry Colangelo, and the Team USA staff opted to actually cut Rondo rather than finalize their roster by his withdrawal, it’s safe to say that Rondo may respond differently.

Taking Rondo’s earlier comments into account, my money says Rondo was actually cut from the roster. If he really planned to withdraw from roster contention, why would he claim to be on the bubble for making the roster in the first place?

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports also cites a source claiming that the players of Team USA were shocked by Rondo’s cut. Teammates that, as Spears’ source notes, Rondo had a good relationship with. Why would they be shocked if Rondo’s departure was planned? We’re entering A Few Good Men territory here: Rondo was leaving for the rest of his life, and he hadn’t called a soul and he hadn’t packed a thing. Can you explain that?

Rondo was cut because Colangelo and Coach K want shooters, and now they’ll have them. Eric Gordon, Stephen Curry, and Danny Granger will all head to Turkey because Rondo will not. That said, even if you subscribe to K and Colangelo’s “shooters above all” mantra, is Rondo really the logical cut over, say, Russell Westbrook? Is it really so easy to overlook the most dominant point guard of the NBA playoffs, and one of Team USA’s most skilled perimeter defenders?

Apparently. One of the guards had to go, and Rondo’s lack of a consistent shooting stroke came to be his end. Still, it’s remarkable just how far Rondo has fallen in the last two weeks — not in terms of play, but in his standing with the Team USA brass — as the one-time leader and starter on this team now finds himself the odd man out.

  1. Reggie - Aug 25, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    Well said!!! Since when is shotting more important then winning!!! He has what it takes to win.

  2. john - Aug 25, 2010 at 8:53 AM

    Hondo would have to sit a lot so they could see he wouldn’t take it well. it was best for the team and him to leave. ego has been to inflated by nba and celtics homers.

  3. dave - Aug 25, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    look they took rondo to the beach 15 foot from the water and told him to shoot the ball into the water, well it landed 3 foot short in the sand. face it boston hicks, rondo can’t shoot

  4. roland - Aug 25, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    sal did you watch the finals?if it wasnt for the refs and there phantom calls lakers would have never won that was the worse i had ever seen lakers ought to go n kiss the refs ass thats the only reason they won period

  5. Paul in KY - Aug 25, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    Personally, I don’t think Coach K likes guys with alot of ‘street’ in their game (as Mr. Rondo has in abundance). Add in that he’s from UK & that combined to be the kiss of death, IMO.

  6. Anonymous - Aug 25, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    Roland, If you are talking about game 7, especially in the last quarter of the game, the C’s ran out of gas and started to resort to silly fouls, plain and simple. Your Boy Rondo fouled Lamar Odom and the refs would just let them play. Paul Pierce, high five Kobe on the elbow and fouled Kobe when He drove the lane and went for a dunk. Your boy Wallace couldn’t get out of the restricted zone fast enough and Kobe made him pay for it, thus going to the free throw line. Garnet had enough of Gasol and started fouling in the last minutes of the game. Check the tape, even the announcer were saying “that’s a foul!” Kobe had a horrible game, missed a lot of shots, BUT guess what, your Boy Garnet got out rebounded by Kobe by a margin of 14 to 3. That’s were you lost the game! Bottom Line: We got Artest for a reason. AND HE shot down pierce! that’s all you need to know why the Lakers are the Champions! But let’s talk about Rondo, Look no one is denying that Rondo is a good player! brings a lot to the table. But the bottom line, he got cut by coach K, who knows a lot about the game of BASKETBALL than all of us! won many times! and there’s no other conclusion why Rondo was let go other than the fact that Rondo can’t make wide open shots 10 to 12 feet away from the basket and his negative attitude doesn’t help either.

  7. You are all dumb - Aug 25, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    Westbrook is not a ‘shooter’ (41%, 22% from 3). Gordon is a ‘streaky’ shooter. Rondo is the BEST rebounder of all the guards, which INCIDENTALLY is what the team needs the MOST (not shooters-Durant, AI, Billups, Curry, etc). Rebounding is what this team needs the most. Defense is second.
    Coach K isn’t infallable as anyone knows (including himself, remember he thought Curry wasn’t gonna be any good AT ALL)…

  8. Here it is..... - Aug 25, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    I blame LeBron James. He is a dick and he is the source of all evil in the world. From now on, anything that happens that someone doesn’t like is LeBron’s fault, dickhead that he is.

  9. tess - Aug 25, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    what you don’t know about basketball would fill the pacific ocean. Rondo is a figment of the imagination of those who refuse to believe the international game requires stronger fundamental skill then does the nba game. Number one fundamental, the ability to shoot. Rondo can’t. So he does not belong. Calling names is a poor excuse for intellectual debate

  10. leo - Aug 25, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    STREET BELONGS IN THE STREET, NOT ON THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE. gET IT STRAIGHT HE CAN NOT SHOOT. tHAT WEAKNESS LEADS TO A CASCADE OF PROLEMS, NUMBER ONE OF WHICH IS PACKING THE ZONE DOWN. PACKING THE ZONE HINDERS DURANT SCORING, WHICH CONDEMNS TEAM USA TEAM TO FAILURE. I REALIZE YOU ARE FROM KY. AND THEREFORE BELIEVE RUPP AND HIS CORRUPT SUCCESSORS ARE ALL KNOWING. THEY ARE NOT. COACH K HAS FORGOTTEN MORE THEN YOU KNOW, ESPECIALLY ABOUT BUILDING AN ORGANICALLY SOUND TEAM OF PLAYERS WHO COMPLIMENT EACH OTHER AND PLAY AS A UNIT.

  11. Jim - Aug 25, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    I guess you were trying to say the whole must be greater than the sum of the parts.

  12. tallman - Aug 25, 2010 at 9:20 PM

    Rondo is way better than some of the players that they picked for this team even if he does not shoot the ball well from the outside. Besides I though that defense wins Championships, that is what every coach preaches!!!

  13. danh - Aug 28, 2010 at 9:23 PM

    you have got to be the biggest idiot ever. did you say darren williams and chris paul are shoot first point guards? what just because they actually CAN shoot unlike rondo? those two pass just as good if not better then rondo and they have less options whereas rondo had the big 3. those two pg’s turn nobodys into allstar level players. do you know how much better tyson chandler and emeka okafor are when they play with chris paul? did you even know about carlos boozer before darren williams? and rondo is a great perimeter defender and everything but you’re neglecting the fact that chris paul was injured last seeason. and prior to that season HE was the steals leader. darren williams is good defender nonetheless, not as good as rondo, BUT he has the athleticism and strength that rondo lacks which is huge when it comes to how physical international basketball players play. so i see him deal with the pushing and shoving a whole lot better then rondo does. ON TOP OF THAT did we forget to mention that these two can freaking shoot?!and what’s this about all those superstars being on the team..? that was the redeem team. this years team has none of those players except rose durant and gay you moron.

  14. Walter - Sep 9, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    The reason Rondo is not on the team is definitely not a good one and we may never really know what it was. Personal issues is my guess.

  15. torondo - Sep 9, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    rondo is good, but for international play he’s gonna be a liability.
    phil jackson put kobe on rondo not because he needs a better defender for rondo but to prevent kobe guarding ray allen. ray allen runs around the court from screen after screen and the lakers can’t afford to let bryant chase allen and tire himself out. that’s why fisher was on allen, and kobe on rondo.

  16. Da Cuse - Sep 10, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    If you watched the finals, NBA basketball in generally, knows that both teams benefitted from suspect calls, that varied from game to game. The NBA rewards aggressiveness which is why Shaq for years has gotten away with bullying people. Lebron get away with the same garbage. For all the talk that Fisher flops for the Lakers, no one ever mentions that Paul Pierce’s picture should be in Wikipedia for all the flopping he does, even when he is shooting.
    Rondo is a good rebounder and defensively player but his absence from this team is because he can’t SHOOT. He is strictly a driver. Thank you Rondo for QUITTING.

  17. wise man say.... - Sep 13, 2010 at 7:38 AM

    RONDO!!! What a cool name to yell out! regardless of how you feel about him as a player he has a really cool name to yell! By the way, he looks like where’s Waldo. Anyways… on to basketball things. Rondo is a VERY GOOD basketball player. One of the top NBA point guards in the league. BUT the league is absolutely saturated with skill and athleticism at the position. The decision was simple, WESTBROOK and rose are faster and a better fit for the pg position/style of play that this team needs. WESTBROOK’S defense and rebounding are better, This is not debatable… watch them both play. With that being said Rondo is not far behind. Additionally WESTBROOK plays with DURANT in OKC and was with LOVE at UCLA. CURRY and GORDON are obciously better shooters (needed in FIBA). GORDON is one hell of an on the ball defender and as good if not better than rondo, once again… not debatable, watch them both play. And i don’t mean watch the sports center replays… haha if you don’t know what i mean by that i’m not talking to you anyways.
    When putting together a team that will only play together a few weeks before the world competition and will have to adapt to a different style of play you have to look at what each player brings to the table and how it fits into the coach’s scheme or vision. Rondo brings a lot. But every guard on that teams brings what Rajon brings but they are more skilled or are faster. Rajon simply does not fit as cohesively with this team as coach k or celtics fans would have liked.
    More specifically coach k has always looked for skill players over athletes, and has tried to find the skilled athletes. Now that he has the pick of the litter and SOOOO many choices at point guard he simply doesn’t think Rajon’s skill sets him apart from the rest of the pack. The parts of his game that do set him apart are his absent jump/set shooting, his free throw percentage, and his sometimes errant turnovers. Not to say that Rajon couldn’t be successful in interationaly play or with this USA team, i’m just saying he wasn’t the right fit this time around.
    Good luck in for the olympics though…. i doubt when the rest of the point guards come back there will be enough room for him either. But maybe… he needs to start with 1000’s of jumpers every day over the summer/offseason like MJ or KOBE. greatness is not natural, it is earned.

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