Atlantic Notes: Zeller, Jackson, Biyombo

Mike Conley, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, was disappointed that the Nets fired Lionel Hollins, who had coached Conley during his tenure with the Grizzlies, Andy Vasquez of The Record relays (via Twitter). The point guard also noted that Hollins’ presence would have been a major reason to consider signing with Brooklyn this offseason, Vasquez adds. Conley is slotted fifth in Hoops Rumors’ latest free agent power rankings. Here’s more regarding the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks’ players say they are also to blame for the team’s woes, not just former coach Derek Fisher, Neil Best of Newsday writes. “I think sometimes coaches get blamed, but it’s just about everybody,” said point guard Jose Calderon. “He was the guy let go but at the end of the day we are all together, from the top to the bottom of the staff, players, everybody. It’s tough to see him go like that because maybe we weren’t winning games lately, but it’s tough to see somebody go like that. It’s on us to turn this around or not and we’ve been saying that for a couple of weeks now.”
  • Celtics big man Tyler Zeller has become a valuable contributor recently after playing sparingly the past few weeks, Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com notes. “A true pro, a guy who’s been on the bad end of the stick and hasn’t really played that much,” Thomas said of Zeller. “Every time his name is called he’s ready, and that’s the definition of a true professional right there. He puts the work in each and every day, and he’s a great teammate.” Boston reportedly contacted the Hawks about a potential deal for center Al Horford before Zeller’s recent success.
  • Knicks team president Phil Jackson has an opt out clause in his contract that he can exercise after the 2016/17 season, Chris Broussard of ESPN.com notes (Twitter link). A “strong belief” persists that Jackson will wind up back with the Lakers organization and fiancee Jeanie Buss in the future, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
  • Bismack Biyombo has been a solid addition to the Raptors this season and he is providing better value than Amir Johnson, who departed as a free agent this past offseason, is for the Celtics, Ben Golliver of SI.com opines. Johnson is earning $12MM this season in Boston while Biyombo is due $2.814MM from the Raptors.
  • Well before the arrival of Kristaps Porzingis, Italian big man Danilo Gallinari was considered the future of the Knicks franchise, but the team instead dealt him as part of a package to acquire Carmelo Anthony. The combo forward says he still has fond memories of his time in New York despite the team trading him away, George Willis of The New York Post writes. “It was tough for me because I got injured right away and had back surgery,” Gallinari said. “But it’s great when you’re a young player and you have the chance to play in a city like New York. My first two years were very intense and the third year we started winning and when you’re winning, New York is a lot of fun.” The Celtics are reportedly interested in acquiring Gallinari, but the Nuggets have rebuffed them so far.

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