The Atlantic Division title race is shaping up to be fairly compelling, with the Raptors just two games up on the Nets as both teams battle the Bulls and Wizards for home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Yet most of the off-court chatter around the division involves the three clubs playing out the string or, in the case of the Knicks, trying to pull off a miracle run to the playoffs. Here’s the latest:
- Metta World Peace wouldn’t have agreed to a buyout deal to free himself from the Knicks last month if he knew Phil Jackson would join the franchise, as the former Ron Artest said during his appearance Monday on the “Max & Marcellus Show” on ESPNLA 710 Radio (transcription via Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com).
- Sam Amick of USA Today wouldn’t be surprised if the Knicks pursue Derek Fisher to coach the team next season, given the mutual respect between Jackson and the 39-year-old guard, who plans to retire at season’s end (video link).
- The Celtics are in line for a top-five pick this year, as our Reverse Standings show, but president of basketball operations Danny Ainge doesn’t think that he’ll draft a franchise player with the selection, as he tells Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe. “I think it’s maybe a little bit better [than last year's draft] by comparison, but it’s not even close to one of the best draft classes in the last 10 years,” Ainge said.
- Sixers 10-day signee Casper Ware has a reputation for tough defense, but coach Brett Brown is also high on his scoring ability and calls him a “true point guard,” notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.