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Atlantic Notes: Griffin, Morris, Johnson

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge doesn’t merely want a short-term upgrade, as he told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, leaving Bulpett to surmise that the Celtics don’t have interest in trading for a soon-to-be free agent they’re not confident they can re-sign. The front office objective isn’t merely to help the team grab a better playoff seed in the spring, Ainge said. The Celtics were indeed one of the many teams to inquire about Blake Griffin, a Western Conference source told Bulpett, adding that the Clips have no serious interest in moving him. While the Thursday trade deadline looms ever closer, here’s what else is happening in the Atlantic Division:

  • Taking a patient approach and sitting out this trade deadline may be the Celtics’ best option despite their stash of draft picks, Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com argues. While Boston should explore the possibility of landing a star player, it might be prudent to hold on to that stockpile of assets and make a big move during the offseason, Forsberg adds.
  • With the Raptors reportedly seeking to upgrade their power forward position, the team is not interested in the Suns’ Markieff Morris, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports relays (on Twitter). Toronto has reportedly expressed interest in Thaddeus Young, Kenneth Faried, Ryan Anderson and Morris, according to multiple reports.
  • Despite reportedly being miserable with the Nets, small forward Joe Johnson has yet to approach the team about a possible buyout arrangement, Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets. Johnson said recently that he wouldn’t dismiss the idea of a buyout from his contract with the Nets, which expires at season’s end, and the Heat, Cavs and Mavs reportedly want to make a run at him if he is released by Brooklyn.
  • Former Knicks coach Derek Fisher‘s negative remarks regarding future unrestricted free agent Rajon Rondo may have contributed to his ouster in New York, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. Fisher, responding to comments Rondo had made regarding the triangle offense not being a good fit or him, said, “That’s your decision on whether or not he’s elite or not. You can’t ask him, when he wasn’t very successful playing against it, whether or not he wants to play in it. That’s his opinion. That’s fine. He doesn’t play for us. We’re not concerned about his opinion about us at this point.’’ The former coach was said to be a fan of Memphis’ Mike Conley, who is also set to become a free agent this offseason, Berman notes.
  • Sixers small forward Robert Covington will likely have the most trade value among Philly’s bench players because of his team-friendly contract and ability to stretch defenses with his shooting, Bobby Marks of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports opines in his deadline primer for the team.

Chuck Myron and Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

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