Eastern Notes: Rondo, Harris, Larkin, Butler

Whether they decide to keep him or trade him, the Celtics are convinced that Rajon Rondo is back to normal, reports Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle.  Rondo, who had 4 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists Saturday in a loss to the Rockets, played in just 30 games last season because of an ACL injury. “He kind of looks like what I’d seen on film before I got here,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “I don’t think he ever looked like that at any time last year, because he was coming back. And that’s just the way it goes with that injury. But he is back to full speed.” Rondo is in the final season of a five-year, $55MM contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Tobias Harris faces a new challenge as he plays this season without certainty of his future status, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. The Magic and Harris did not reach an extension agreement by the October 31st deadline. “It’s business,” Harris said. “It’s a little disappointing. But at the same time, I’ll just approach it the same way.”
  • Shane Larkin understands the “business deal” that led the Knicks not to pick up his third-year option, but he told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com he wants to show the team he can be part of its future. “Obviously they want to build a championship team here,” Larkin said, “and they need as much money as they can next summer to be able to bring in the big free agents that they’re looking at.” Larkin will become an unrestricted free agent this summer and can re-sign with New York, but only for up to $1,675,320, the amount of the option that was declined, The Knicks, who also decided not to offer an extension to Iman Shumpert, are expected to chase maximum-salary players next summer when the hefty contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani expire.
  • The BullsJimmy Butler is headed toward restricted free agency, but he explained to Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com that doesn’t mean he’s headed out of Chicago. Friedell adds that Butler and his agent, Happy Walters, were asking for a deal similar to the $12MM a year that the Hornets gave to Kemba Walker last week. Bulls GM Gar Forman said the uncertainty looming over the salary cap with the league’s new TV deal affected the decision not to give Butler a long-term deal.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

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