Eastern Notes: Rondo, Monroe, LeBron, Raptors

Soon-to-be free agent Rajon Rondo expressed utmost confidence Monday that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge can return the team to contention, as Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald observes.

“Yeah, I’m pretty smart,” Rondo said. “I know this isn’t a championship team. But we’re going to go out there every night and fight hard. I think if we continue to do the little things and believe in each other and believe in [coach] Brad Stevens, we’ll surprise a lot of people. I have complete trust in Danny. The worst year of my career, in two months we turned it around. So I’m not worried about what he’s capable of doing. He’s done it.”

Rondo also spoke about the frequent appearance of his name in trade rumors, half-kiddingly suggesting that he’d like a no-trade clause in his next deal. It’ll be tough for him to avoid more rumors this season, one in which he seems like the most prominent trade candidate leaguewide. Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Pistons aren’t giving up hope that they’ll reach a long-term deal with Greg Monroe, even though his signed qualifying offer means he’ll be an unrestricted free agent next summer, owner Tom Gores told reporters, including Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free-Press. Monroe isn’t ruling it out either, as we noted yesterday.
  • Mike Miller confirmed a June report from Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com that the Heat‘s decision to amnesty him in 2013 upset LeBron James, as Miller tells Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer. “LeBron thought it was an unnecessary change,” Miller said. “I’m not saying I would have been a difference-maker. San Antonio was unbelievable last year and there are a lot of things that go into a season, but it was difficult for LeBron. It was difficult for all of us. It was difficult for me. I had to uproot my family and move again. It was tough. I think he was disappointed because he understands legacies and he understands what he wants to do in life. That’s what makes him special.”
  • Raptors GM Masai Ujiri had hoped to find a one-to-one D-League affiliate for this season, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, who writes that the idea remains on the table for future seasons. Toronto will be one of 13 NBA teams sharing the Fort Wayne Mad Ants this year.
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