Atlantic Notes: Atkinson, Jackson, Qi

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson acknowledged that the team’s lack of draft picks makes rebuilding more difficult, adding that the front office would just need to get creative in remaking the roster, NetsDaily relays. “We’re going to have to look under every rock, and that’s a great thing about the NBA today. I think there’s a lot of different ways to acquire players — D-League, international, free agency,” Atkinosn told reporters. “So I’m excited. I think we can get it done, and I’m ready to get to work. I think we have to focus on our future and think of the different ways we can get players here. We’re not focused on that. Past is the past, and we’re trying to be really creative.

The new coach tried to temper expectations, noting that it would not be an overnight process to turn things around in Brooklyn, NetsDaily notes. “I think we can build something,” Atkinson said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. I want to see steady improvement on a daily basis. I think we can find some players for the way we want to play. The first thing we have to sell is the change in culture. They have to feel that. A bunch of our players yesterday were saying, ‘we want to be a part of this.’ We have to put it into action now.

Here’s the latest out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The success or failure of hiring Jeff Hornacek as the Knicks new head coach will be one of the major career-defining moves for Phil Jackson as an executive, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News.
  • One of the most intriguing players the Celtics worked out this week was Chinese big man Zhou Qi, whose size, soft shooting touch and shot-blocking ability has caught the team’s eye, Taylor C. Snow of NBA.com writes. “I went to China and saw him play,” said director of player personnel Austin Ainge. “We’ve known about him for a couple of years. He’s probably the third- or fourth-most recognized name in Chinese basketball, so he’s a known commodity, but it was great to have him in today to workout.
  • The Raptors scored the No. 9 overall pick in this year’s NBA draft from the Knicks as part of the Andrea Bargnani trade, and GM Masai Ujiri views it as a solid chip the team can utilize this summer to improve, Chris O’Leary of The Toronto Star relays. “I think everybody talks about [having that pick],” Ujiri said. “I think this is a good, good asset for our organization and something else to add to some of the little things we can do.
  • If Mike D’Antoni accepts a coaching post elsewhere, the Sixers could look to replace him as lead assistant with former NBA head coach P.J. Carlesimo, Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

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