Rondo out of Bulls' lineup after being benched for poor play

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.