Rajon Rondo gained respect by standing up for his “rank-and-file” teammates and is unlikely to be traded before the Feb. 23rd deadline, writes Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Discord in the Bulls‘ locker room was aired publicly last week when Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler both went to the media with complaints that some players don’t care enough. Rondo responded on Instagram with a post saying that the veteran leaders on his former Celtics teams never would have done that. Rondo not only improved his standing in the locker room, he has also been productive in his role with the second unit, creating shots for younger players rather than fighting Wade and Butler for the ball.
There’s more from the Central Division:
- Bucks swingman Khris Middleton is getting closer to making his season debut, tweets Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He has been participating in contract drills and is expected to be ready soon, although not during the team’s current road trip. Middleton had surgery for a torn hamstring in September.
- Henry Ellenson has only played in 14 NBA games, but the rookie big man has performed well enough in the D-League to the keep the Pistons optimistic about his future, according to Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Ellenson averaged 20 points and nine rebounds per game during his most recent trip to Grand Rapids. Langlois notes that he was taken with the pick that Detroit traded last year for Donatas Motiejunas then regained when the deal was rescinded. “I think the guy is a really, really talented offensive guy and I have great confidence in his work ethic, that he’ll work at it and get better,” said coach/executive Stan Van Gundy.
- Pistons second-year swingman Stanley Johnson credits weight loss for his increased playing time, relays Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Johnson has dropped about 15 pounds and has become a reliable backup to shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. “The two things to me are he’s gotten in shape — which he wasn’t to start the year — and he’s gotten much more coachable,” Van Gundy said.