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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. Kirk - Aug 24, 2010 at 2:43 PM

    This was garbage – Danny Granger is a shooter the way a paper airplane is a passenger jet. The man is a scorer who gets on fire occasionally through the the sheer volume he shoots. He won’t get more than 5 shots a game, if that, and will take up roster space.
    Instead we get a string of point guards who’s first instinct is to score, not pass, and thats apparent by the fact that their timing is off on all passes that are made once there is penetration (Curry is excluded, but he won’t get much burn). Maybe Rondo pissed off the brass as is his want, but I don’t see it here. Someone should’ve stood up and said no to this.

  2. motivatortom - Aug 24, 2010 at 2:47 PM

    Maybe not as surprised as some. Rondo is a driver … great for the NBA but maybe not so good for the international game. I loved his energy in the playoffs, but maybe this is not that big of a deal to him. This is Coach K’s team. He knows what it takes to compete and win. For whatever reason, Rondo did not fit that mold. I can see how that might indeed be the case.

  3. Anonymous - Aug 24, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    no way you cut rondo! this is luducris

  4. montanaman - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    I just love how everything is a conspiracy. God forbid we actually believe when someone says something.

  5. dew - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    I’m excited for rondo not being on the team. Not that I don’t respect his abilities and his game, but I’m pretty tired of seeing that damn fake pass layup he does every game. This gives three good players, Curry, Granger, and Gordon, from smaller market teams some exposure they desperately need. Soon enough, as old age ravages the roster, Boston will be Rondo’s team and we’ll see all the 100% devotion to hax0r perimeter defense we can handle. In the meantime, lets see these kids win some gold.

  6. Sal - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    Rondo sucks! Kobe didn’t respect his game at all. Rondo couldn’t drive and create penetration against the Lakers. To be more blunt Kobe would leave him wide open and even bait him to take shots. What did Rondo do? pass the ball. As a point guard what good are you if you can’t make wide open shots 10 or 12 feet away from the basket?

  7. Greg d - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    Maybe this will teach other NBA super stars not to apply for Team USA unles you want to get cut for BS reasons!

  8. Greg d - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    Maybe this will teach other NBA super stars not to apply for Team USA unles you want to get cut for BS reasons!

  9. Greg - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    You take it too far when you say he sucks. He would not be regarded as the great player he is had it been that he sucked. He would still get his numbers in every playoff game. He had amazing speed, great cardio, and wasn’t afraid to make the seemingly impossible layup. Just because he wasn’t a 40% 3pt shooter doesn’t mean we have to overlook his solid mid range shooting. Also, when it mattered, he made a clutch 3pt shot for boston in game 7.

  10. Mike - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    Rondo has an attitude that always doesn’t sit well with his coaches. He was benched at Kentucky his sophomore year by Tubby Smith for attitued issues. If I had to guess, he didn’t buy into what Coach K was selling and Coach K took care of it.

  11. steve - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    Your guards HAVE to be able to knockdown open jumpers in International ball. They play too much zone and to be able to completely sag off of Rondo defensively would make it harder on the rest of the guys. I’m a Celtics fan, but I think this team will be better off without him. Plus, I’d rather have him shooting 1000 20ft jumpers per day than focusing on the World Championships. That’s the only thing keeping him from being the best PG in the game is his inability to hit open shots.

  12. John - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    Among the Guards on the team Rondo is without a doubt:
    The Best defender
    The Best Rebounder
    The Best Ball handler and can get to the basket angainst anyone
    The Best Passer
    How is he not STARRING for this team?
    John

  13. plm - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    Sal,
    Give us your NBA stats. You must have been really good.

  14. Alan - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    No disrespect to Rondo, but, in the Int’l Game, players will need to be able to make shots from 12 feet and out. People, this is not the NBA nor is it Street Ball…..Internationally, Europeans are much better utilizing team ball, team defense by clogging the lane.
    Rondo is a wonderful Point Guard, an awesome Facilitator, but, the Finals exposed his weakness – can’t hit wide open shots from 12 ft or beyond and he’s an aweful, dreadful free throw shooter.
    Also, is it me or this Team USA version don’t have enough shooters. All I see are Curry, Durant, and Billups. The 2008 team had Carmelo, Kobe, Michael Redd, Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Jason Kidd (sometimes).

  15. bballboy - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    Stop all these hate…….Rhondo is a defensive, rebounding and passing specialist, shooting is not his strength. Phill Jackson is sooooo worry about rhondo, he commit kobe on him. Now that says alot…….

  16. Steve - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    because he can’t hit a 17ft jumper to save his life. I’ll take Derrick Rose, his better shot and length over Rondo right now, especially when our team is really small and has very little inside presence. We need size wherever we can get it. We’ve got Billups and Steph Curry playing shooting guard. We can’t pair Curry and Rondo on the floor at the same time. They would post up our guards all day long.
    You have to pick your team as a team, not as the best individuals at each position. We could do that back in the day, but not anyomre.

  17. Alan - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    Yeah, Kobe guarded him alright….dared him to shoot each time Rondo came down the floor! He built a mansion in LA from ALL THE BRICKS HE THREW UP!! Whats worse is Rondo’s free throws! OMG! Seriously, this year, whos going have a better FT %: Rondo or Shaq.

  18. Sal - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    Okay Greg, you are right, I’m taking it a little far, but I do understand were coach K is coming from. I mean, listen to what Mike just stated,about his negative attitude, because I also noticed the same thing when they were playing against the Lakers. Rondo does have an authority problem. He displayed in the series against the Lakers. In those games, I noticed that he would come down hard on his own teammates. It was clearly displayed when Ray Allen fouled Kobe, in a crucial part of the game, and Rondo went back to his own sidelines and was complaining to Doc Rivers about why he wouldn’t take Ray out of the game, and put Tony Allen on Kobe. Little things like that can bring the ship down, and coach K realized that’s he’s better off without Rondo and his negative aspect of his game. But there’s no denying, Rondo is a top competitor, I’ll give you that.

  19. randy - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    Rondo is a solid player, but obviously he missed the cut in a competition with other good players. End of story. Not an easy decision for the coaches, but I think its the right one given the depth at the guard position. I would take Westbrook over Rondo. He’s much tougher and more versatile. Quit whining Celtic fans.

  20. tess - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    what rondo’s departure points out is how weak nba standards are. ronda can not shoot, scores primarily because nba defenses are lax, is a mediocre floor general, a weak passer and does not have great bball iq. in short he has weak fundamentals, a death nell in international competition.

  21. Dew - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    @John
    You have been huffing too much Boston air… side effects include blindness, poor judgment, and possible hallucinations. Rondo, as much as I hate him, is a good, even great at many of those things. BUT, to say that he is the BEST in all these categories is just plain dumb. Granted of the PGs on Team USA’s roster Rondo is 2nd to DRose, maybe 2a with Billups, but in a tournament that has no defensive 3 second rule, plays a heavy zone, and physical guard play, not having a solid mid-range J is quite the handicap. Plus, without a strong interior presence for Team USA, there’s just not enough options for a drive heavy player like Rondo to succeed.

  22. tooamazon - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    I’m with you on that Greg. He’s a phenominal player that I’ve watched since the Celtics’ 2008 season. I saw potential then and I see more now. I see him getting even better. He is a walking, talking highlight reel. I am excited to see him be able to take a break from the rigourness of the game, take care of his family, himself and what have you. I believe it will give him a better and refreshed return when the season starts. If he did not have this time then the above mentioned things could have served as distractions during the regular season. He’s a new “star”. I say give him some time to learn the multi-tasking all stars must do. Heck, he’s probably still interviewing for a personal assistant.

  23. Nick - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    I don’t see why this was such a surprise talent-wise. Rondo is an incredible NBA player, but his skills don’t match well for international play.
    This guy is all about the drive and score, or drive and dish. The international court is smaller (with a shorter 3pt line), so the drive and dish in the halfcourt is negated somewhat. It’s way, way more important for a PG to be a good shooter who works well running screen and rolls.
    This is besides the fact that Rondo is arguably the most turnover prone guard on the team (as the exhibition games have shown).
    As well, running the fast break is a huge part of the Americans game, and while Rondo is no slouch on the break, I’d take Rose or Westbrook over him anyday. Perhaps not S.Curry, but his shooting ability is absolutely essential (he’s the only top-notch 3 point shooter on the team at this point). I don’t think his spot was ever in jeopardy.
    So, it comes down to this: The only real reason to keep Rondo is because of his excellent perimeter defense. But I guess the coaches believe that Westbrook and Rose’s explosiveness in the open court and getting to the rim overrides the perimeter defense. Both of them aren’t bad defenders either.
    And I don’t particularily love Kevin Love or Danny Granger, but considering how many PGs the team has, they obviously had to cut one of them rather than a forward.
    The one guy I couldn’t really care about is Chauncey Billups. I know everyone talks about experience, yada yada, but this team is built around explosiveness and defense, and in that sense, I’d take Rondo over Billups. Although, I do understand what the coaches were thinking, b/c Billups can also legimately play the 2 and is one of the best shooters on the squad.
    Either way, Rondo is the odd man out. It was either him or Westbrook – noone else was really in danger of going home.
    Westbrook and Rose are kind of similar players, but imagine that backcourt!

  24. owen - Aug 24, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    why, because he is not one of the twelve best in camp. Int’l competition will eat him aive. A short 3 point line and a trapizoidal lane put a premium on shooting. The biggest wealness in his game. Also coach K requires intelligent players. Rondo’s as dumb as a skunk. This team will be lead by Durant, Love and Curry. Three studs

  25. Jos - Aug 24, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    Rondo sucks period. He deserved to be cut. When you’re playing along side a big 3 no defense pays attention to you more so when you can’t shoot. He’s overrated and didn’t deserve an all star appearance. He’s comparable to Fisher or Tyron Lue leaving the Kobe+Shaq Lakers..nothing. I’m going to predict the same deal for Farmar.

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