Atlantic Notes: Raptors, J.R. Smith, Rondo

January 2 at 7:37pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Raptors are 9-3 following the Rudy Gay trade, with impressive wins over the Thunder and the Pacers, who are tied for the best record in the NBA. It’s easy to portray last month’s trade of Gay to the Kings as addition by subtraction for Toronto, but that’s not how DeMar DeRozan sees it, as Eric Koreen of the National Post notes.

“You really can’t say that,” DeRozan said. “People will speculate and say this, that and the third about the trade. One thing: We still had a lot of talent before the trade. Things just weren’t clicking. We didn’t play a full season and figure it all out, either. This is our team now, and we’re steadily learning and growing every day.”

Koreen is skeptical that the departure of the statistically inefficient small forward hasn’t helped the team during its recent stretch, pointing to the improved play of DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas since the trade. Regardless, the Raptors have reached the .500 mark, putting them in command of a weak Atlantic Division. Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • J.R. Smith says he’s gotten over his frustration with the Knicks for waiving his brother, and that he’s “ready to go to war” with Jeremy Tyler, who replaced Chris Smith on the roster, observes Marc Berman of the New York Post.
  • It was Rajon Rondo who first proposed the idea of sending him down to the D-League, Celtics GM Danny Ainge said today on 98.5 the Sports Hub in Boston, as Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com passes along. It’s unclear whether the point guard will play for Boston’s D-League affiliate this season, but Ainge said he supports the notion of teams sending star players on rehab assignments.
  • Celtics assistant coach Ron Adams shared his bitterness about Bulls GM Gar Forman‘s decision to let him go this past offseason with K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune“It’s still a bit mystifying to me,” Adams said. “And I don’t understand it. And if the intent was to be hurtful to me and my family, it succeeded.” The Celtics were one of a half-dozen teams with interest in Adams when Forman elected not to renew his contract, the sort of decision that usually rests with a team’s head coach.
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