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Atlantic Notes: Rondo, Lopez, Joseph, Williams

The breakfast meeting between Rajon Rondo and Kobe Bryant that took place a year ago hastened the trade that took Rondo out of Boston, the point guard believes, according to Chris Forsberg of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge didn’t indicate that was the case, Rondo concedes, and he wound up signing in the summer with the Kings instead of the Lakers, but Rondo still connects the breakfast and the trade, which happened two weeks apart, Forsberg notes.

“No, Danny never said anything, but I’m pretty sure that, after that, Danny thought he’d lose me for nothing at the end of the year so he made a decision and I understand that,” Rondo said.

People in the Celtics organization, including coach Brad Stevens, are glad to see Rondo playing well again, and Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger both say their former teammate is like a brother to them, as Forsberg details. Rondo is reportedly back in play for a max deal in the summer ahead. See more from the Atlantic Division:

  • One reason why Kristaps Porzingis is rebounding so well, to the tune of 12.0 per 36 minutes, is the presence of Knicks offseason signee Robin Lopez, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post“When you take a look at Robin in Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge’s rebounding numbers next to Robin were really good,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said. “Robin does a really good job impacting his guy, boxing out and holding guys away from the basket so other players can get rebounds.’’
  • Cory Joseph‘s scoring has been a positive revelation for the Raptors, observes Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, who looks at the highlights and trouble spots for the team so far. The inability of fellow free agent acquisition Bismack Biyombo to provide a reasonable facsimile for what the injured Jonas Valanciunas can do on offense helps lead to the lack of ball movement that has plagued Toronto, Smith adds.
  • Deron Williams‘ shooting percentage and scoring are up, and Lionel Hollins, his former coach, attributes that to his escape from the spotlight of the New York metropolitan area, notes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Williams gave up nearly $16MM in salary as part of a buyout of the final two years of his contract with the Nets before signing a two-year, $11MM deal with the Mavs this past offseason. “He’s played well. I said he’d play well, he’d be more comfortable out of New York,’’ Hollins said. “I said that he’d go down and play in a little different system, but mainly be out of New York and be away from the New York spotlight and expectations that were really unnatural. So I expected him to play better.’’

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