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Atlantic Notes: Casey, Knicks, Lopez

Dwane Casey will probably return as Raptors head coach next season even though the team got swept by the underdog Wizards in the playoffs, Eric Koreen of The National Post opines. Casey has one guaranteed year remaining on his contract and Koreen anticipates the team’s management will give him another chance unless a proven coach that GM Masai Ujiri likes, such as the Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau, becomes available. The Raptors will likely cut ties with all of their unrestricted free agents, a list that includes Landry Fields, Amir Johnson, Greg Stiemsma, Tyler Hansbrough, Chuck Hayes and Lou Williams, according to Koreen. The Raptors need to upgrade at the forward spots and improve defensively to become a serious contender, which is why no one on the roster is a lock to return next season, Koreen concludes.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks need more veteran leaders in their locker room even if Carmelo Anthony becomes more of a vocal leader next season, according to Ian Begley of ESPN New York. The Knicks had several of those players, including Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby, in 2013/14 when they won 54 games, Begley points out. David West might fit that description if the Pacers forward declines his $12.6MM player option for next season, Begley adds.
  • Brook Lopez‘s strong finish makes his decision on whether to exercise his $16.7MM player option for next season a difficult one, Michael Scotto of reports. It might be wise for the Nets center to opt out and seek long-term security this summer, given his rising stock and injury history, Scotto continues. On the flip side, Lopez might be competing for offers with a number of other high-profile centers who will enter the market this summer, including Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Tyson Chandler and Omer Asik, Scotto adds. One GM who thinks Lopez would put himself at too much risk for injury if he opts in tells Scotto that he believes the center would merit salaries around $16MM on the open market, essentially mirroring the value of his option.
  • Luigi Datome made a point of praising the Celtics on his Facebook page Monday, Braden Campbell of reports, a strong indicator he hopes Boston will re-sign him. Datome, who will be unrestricted free agent this summer, was dealt to the Celtics by the Pistons at the trade deadline. Datome, who praised everyone from the team’s management to arena workers, added in the Facebook post that he would value every proposal that comes his way this summer. He probably won’t get one from Boston, since Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has already expressed doubt that the team would have a roster spot available for Datome next season.

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