Rajon Rondo has worked his way back into a rotation spot for now

NEW YORK – Finally, some clarity for Rajon Rondo.

At least for the time being while the flu-bug is running rampant through the Bulls locker room.

According to coach Fred Hoiberg on Thursday, Rondo’s role has gone from permanent fixture on the bench like he was for 5 ½ games to now the lead point guard with the second unit as he was again against the Knicks.

Call it progress.

“I talked to him about the lift and the spark that he gave us [Tuesday] with the energy and the pace, the push that he had with that second unit,’’ Hoiberg said of the decision.

The Rondo drama has been front and center the last two weeks, after the decision was made to take one of their prized offseason free-agent signings and bench him following a poor first half against Indiana last month.

It came with little explanation as far as Rondo was concerned, and vague answers from the Bulls. Without Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic against the Wizards to start this current road trip, however, Hoiberg had little choice but to go back to Rondo.

Now the hope is Rondo will remain a better fit with the reserves, with Michael Carter-Williams still starting. Rondo did get the call early on in the game against New York, but that was only because of foul trouble for Carter-Williams.

“Yeah, that’s something that we thought a lot about is getting him in there with that second group,’’ Hoiberg said.

More impressive has been the way that Rondo has handled all the drama, especially considering his reputation of turning quickly on organizations and coaching staffs. If anything, Rondo looks more like a player that was deceived about his role since signing with the Bulls.

“I judge people by what I see of them,’’ Wade said of Rondo compared to his reputation. “I can’t judge someone by what someone has said or written. What I knew of Rondo, playing against him was that he’s a competitor. We had to go against each other in the Eastern Conference Finals, and when I signed here I knew he was a competitor and I wanted to play with guys that that.

“Like I told you guys multiple times, he’s been unbelievable, a true professional, a great teammate. That’s all I can judge him off of.

“I like him. I didn’t like him when I wasn’t his teammate. That’s the biggest thing.’’

Not backing down

Denzel Valentine was well aware of John Wall’s criticism of the Bulls rookie, and the fact that Wall didn’t like a dance Valentine did after hitting a three-pointer on Tuesday.

Wall explained it as Valentine “woke up a giant’’ after that moment, but Valentine had a different take on it.

“Why wasn’t he playing like that the whole night, you know what I’m saying?’’ Valentine said. “He’s not literally a monster, he’s a human. He should be out there competing the whole game.

‘’I play how I play. I’m not going to stop how I play.’’


Mirotic and Butler remained in Chicago, but the hope was that Butler would be able to possibly work out at the Advocate Center on Friday. Valentine had to leave the arena early Thursday, as he was also hit with the flu and unavailable to play.