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Rajon Rondo out of Bulls’ lineup after being benched for poor play

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CHICAGO (AP) Rajon Rondo is out of the Chicago Bulls’ lineup, one day after being benched for poor play.

Michael Carter-Williams started at point guard against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday after Rondo was benched for the second half in a loss at Indiana the previous day.

Coach Fred Hoiberg called it a “strictly basketball” move. He would not say if Rondo or Jerian Grant would back up Carter-Williams.

The move comes with the Bulls in a 3-7 tailspin heading into Saturday’s game. Rondo was held out for the final two quarters against the Pacers after a scoreless first half in which he had three fouls and a minus-20 in the plus/minus category.

Benching Rondo was not what the Bulls’ had in mind after the four-time All-Star signed a $30 million, two-year contract. But he has been inconsistent, averaging 7.2 points and 7.1 assists. He also served a one-game suspension three weeks ago for detrimental conduct to the team, and with the team looking for a spark – particularly early in games – Hoiberg decided to go with Carter-Williams.

Hoiberg said he met with Rondo at the team’s practice facility on Saturday morning.

“He was very professional, talked about accepting whatever role he has and helping our guys stay ready,” Hoiberg said. “I was proud of how he handled the situation (Friday) night. He was cheering for the guys on the bench and talking to them when they came out for rotation reasons. He’s handled it well and we’ll see how it goes.”

Does the presence of Carter-Williams make Rondo expendable?

“I don’t know about that,” Hoiberg said.

Carter-Williams returned Monday after missing about two months with injuries to his left knee and left wrist. He was hurt Oct. 31 at Brooklyn and had appeared in just six games prior to Saturday’s matchup with the Bucks.

A first-round pick by Philadelphia in 2013, Carter-Williams has averaged 14.2 points in his career. He was acquired by the Bulls in a trade with Milwaukee on Oct. 17.

PBT Extra: Three things to watch with Boston in wake of Hayward injury

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Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.

What next for Boston?

In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.

Gordon Hayward addresses Celtics and fans from hospital bed (video)

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Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.

Hayward:

What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.

At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.

And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.

76ers coach Brett Brown: Joel Embiid’s minute restriction could quickly rise

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Joel Embiid‘s minute limit of below 20 bummed out everyone (especially Embiid).

But good news could be on the way.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

The 76ers look like a borderline playoff team, Embiid’s health the biggest variable. There’s a direct correlation between his ability to stay on the court and Philadelphia’s postseason chances.

Plus, he’s just so darn fun to watch. The more he plays, the bigger victory it is for every viewer not rooting for the 76ers’ opponent that night.

Report: Bucks have offered second-round pick as enticement for Rashad Vaughn trade

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John Henson was on the trade block. Greg Monroe seems permanently affixed there.

Another player the Bucks apparently want to deal? Rashad Vaughn, who was the No. 17 pick in 2015.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Milwaukee has been working to trade several players to clear salary-cap space, including guard Rashad Vaughn and center John Henson, league sources said. The Bucks have been willing to attach a second-round pick in offers for Vaughn, league sources said.

It’s unclear whether the Bucks are still as motivated to move Vaughn. They slid under the luxury-tax line by stretching Spencer Hawes. One-time target Richard Jefferson already signed with the Nuggets. A roster vacancy and cap savings might not matter as much anymore to Milwaukee.

But Vaughn has struggled in two NBA seasons. The Bucks might be better off trying to develop someone else, even a D-League player, over the 21-year-old Vaugh.

Vaughn is due $1,889,040 this season. He faces a $2,901,565 team option for next season, which his team must decide on by Oct. 31. It seems unlikely that will be exercised.

This is what happens when you draft players for the wrong reason.