Atlantic Notes: Blatt, Porzingis, Ujiri

Despite a report by the Russian news agency TASS that former Cavs coach David Blatt is the Nets‘ top priority as they seek a replacement for Lionel Hollins, league sources have cast doubt on the likelihood of Brooklyn hiring Blatt, Brian Lewis of The New York Post relays. It appears only logical to link Blatt to the Nets considering team owner Mikhail Prokhorov is from Russia and Blatt used to coach the Russian national team, which has received significant financial backing from Prokhorov in the past, as was noted by NetsDaily. The team has stated its intent to hire a GM before hiring a coach, and the target is to have a GM in place before the February 18th trade deadline.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has the difficult decision between banking on the idea that the team has enough talent for a deep playoff run and sacrificing some of the team’s stockpiled future draft picks in an attempt to make a significant upgrade, Mike Ganter of The Toronto Sun writes. Toronto may wait until the offseason to make any moves, with the Raptors believing that their current roster is more likely to sustain their level of play because they have a solid defensive foundation, as opposed to last year’s squad, which relied more heavily on offense to win, Ganter adds.
  • A number of veteran players on the Knicks admit to having had doubts when New York selected Kristaps Porzingis with the No. 4 overall pick last summer, but the rookie quickly won them over with his toughness and work ethic, writes Lee Jenkins of SI.com in his profile of the big man. “I tested him, the way I would anyone,” combo forward Lance Thomas told Jenkins. “Body him up, get in him, foul him hard, make him uncomfortable. I wanted to see if the toughness was there. I wanted to see what he does when adversity hits. Nothing fazed him. I’d score on him, talk some [expletive], and then he’d come down and ask for the ball back. He won me over right there. I think he won Melo [Carmelo Anthony] over as well.

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