While the Nets' poor showing in December may have cost head coach Avery Johnson his job, another Atlantic Division team has been struggling this month as well. The Celtics have lost six of their last eight games, including their last two contests by a combined 47 points. Boston's only two wins in that span have come against the league's second-worst team (the Cavaliers) and those reeling Nets, in Johnson's second-last game. As we wait to see if the C's can get on the right track tonight against the 10-19 Kings, let's take a look at a few Atlantic-related links….
- It's not clear whether the Celtics will still explore the free agent market, since even signing a player to a minimum-salary contract could adversely affect the team's cap situation, as Danny Ainge tells Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. "We have restraints because of the [luxury tax] apron," Ainge said, presumably referring to Boston's hard cap. "And it puts limitations on us and I don’t want to get our backs against the wall where it limits us even more for significant progress in any sort of transaction that may come available later. So we’re trying to patient."
- John N. Mitchell of the Philadelphia Enquirer believes that free agent big man Kenyon Martin would be a good addition to the Sixers' roster, and at least one unnamed Philadelphia player agrees: "His attitude has been an issue for him in certain places. But one thing you know is that he's going to play hard all the time, and he's going to bring emotion. I think he'd help us more than he would hurt."
- The Nets' roster as constructed isn't championship-caliber, says Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News, adding that owner Mikhail Prokhorov "has a Chevy on his hands in Brooklyn that he believes to be a Rolls-Royce."