Atlantic Notes: Walton, Durant, Okafor

Knicks interim coach Kurt Rambis offered his praise for the job Luke Walton did with the Warriors while coach Steve Kerr was away from the team recovering from back surgery, Marc Berman of The New York Post relays. Rambis noted that while Walton didn’t need to change much in order for Golden State to remain successful, the team did embrace Walton’s unselfish style of play, Berman adds. “He just continued to perpetuate what was going on,’’ Rambis said of Walton. “It’s not like he changed anything. He continued to allow the team to play the way they’re playing and [have] been successful with. It’s difficult to coach any team, even a good team. You got to keep them motivated and challenged. Every team that plays Golden State, you’re going to see their best. It’s tough as defending champions to meet that challenge night in and night out. When you think of unselfish play and teamwork, they epitomize it.

While Rambis appears to be team president Phil Jackson‘s top choice to coach the Knicks next season, Walton is reportedly on the team’s short list of potential candidates. Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Pending unrestricted free agent Kevin Durant downplayed the warm reception he received Wednesday from Celtics fans, who were chanting for the small forward to sign with Boston this summer, Charles Curtis of USA Today relays. I just didn’t think about it, to be honest,” Durant said. “I was more focused on the team. I was definitely looking forward to this today. So, it’s a lot that was going through my mind that was more important.” Prior to arriving in Boston, Durant noted that he enjoyed visiting the city and praised its family atmosphere.
  • With Jahlil Okafor‘s rookie season officially over due to injury, questions still remain as to whether or not he and Nerlens Noel can co-exist on the court. When asked to grade the duo, Sixers coach Brett Brown noted that the pairing wasn’t entirely successful, though they did show some improvement as the season wore on, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com relays. “With sometimes the excitement of [an] A, no doubt,” Brown said. “Sometimes the disappointment of [an] F. It’s not anybody’s fault. We all have talked about it and I believe everybody here understands how difficult [it is] taking two [centers] that are 20 and letting them figure out NBA transition defense and matchups and the punishments. And the plus-minus in our defense [with Okafor and Noel playing together] reflects that opinion. It was terrible. We went from terrible to poor over the course of time. We improved in that direction. At times it was good. So it was erratic.

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