According to Chris Sheridan of ESPN, Rajon Rondo looked like a man with a lot on his mind as he sat under the basket, all by himself, while the rest of the members of Team USA congregated in the bench areas or put up a few extra shots following the conclusion of practice Tuesday at OAKA Arena.
Rondo told the press, "I think I'm on the bubble. Just looking at the obvious -- I got a DNP last game. That pretty much speaks for itself."
Just a couple hours later at the team hotel, after a meeting with the coaching staff and the team hierarchy, Rondo had a one-way plane ticket back to the United States.
There would be no need for a final cut, with Rondo withdrawing from the team.
Rondo took the diplomatic approach stating, "It's what's best for the country." When Coach K decided that Rondo wouldn’t play on Sunday, it was his first time not getting in a game since his rookie NBA season. "It's part of it. We knew coming in it was still tryouts until we make the team that goes to Turkey."
USA Basketball issued a press release Tuesday night announcing Rondo's withdrawal from the team, four days prior to the start of the World Championship in Turkey.
Truth being told Rondo is exactly what the team needs, but he’s too prototypical American basketball. He is a skilled ball handler, a terrific defensive player on and off the ball. However Rondo lacks one thing that FIBA basketball players need to have in their repertoire, the ability to knock down jump shots with consistency.
This doesn’t mean Rondo is not a great player. There are only a handful of people on the planet who can do what he does on a consistent basis. Rondo just has to expand his game if it is going to be effective on the international level. The international game resembles college basketball and it is centered on having explosion and the ability to fill it up.
As for the guards that remain on team USA, Rondo was by far the weakest perimeter player on the team. Coach K reiterated these same sentiments by stating that:
"It's not so much what Rajon has to show, it's what our team needs. We've found a good lineup, and the international game is so different from the NBA game, you can ask any of these guys. Part of it is to make sure that we try not to have two non-shooters out on the court, and there's the physicality, too.”
"Derrick right now being with Chauncey is a good [combination], and Stephen, he provides a different thing, because if they are going under [screens] and they keep going under on him, then he has a 3. So it forces another team to change the way they defend our team. So it's things like that, and how we feel strategy-wise what'll be best for the team."
That being said, Rondo took the high road and did what was best. So while some players who are a pay grade below him on the floor and a ring behind him in his career continue to fight on for the country, Rondo gets to go home and cheer for them while he continues to be the best player on one of the best teams in the world.