Atlantic Notes: Lopez, Thomas, Knicks

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson proclaimed himself a fan of center Brook Lopez, adding that he views the big man as a vital part of the team’s rebuilding plan, NetsDaily relays. “The first thing I’m really impressed with him –watching him and I’m watching him really closely right now, watching games from the last couple of years — is how well he passes the ball and that’s going to be a big part of our offense, moving the ball,” Atkinson said of Lopez. “He obviously can score the ball.  That’s been established. He’s been established as a pro, but I’m really impressed with the way he passes the ball.

And I think there will be areas where we’re going to challenge him,” Atkinson continued. “Protect the rim a little better, a little better pick-and-roll defense. These are areas where he can get a little better there, a little better here. He’s already an excellent player. Can we get him to another level.  Can we help him get to another level.  But I’m a huge fan.  I think he plays the game the right way. I think he’s smart. It’s a fast paced game right now in the NBA, but I look at Andrew Bogut in Golden State. They play pretty fast and he does alright in the offense. So, I think there’s a place for Brook in this new NBA.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas intends to help the team recruit free agents this summer and admits that Boston needs to add another star if it is to move forward, Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com writes. “We’re a step away. We’re a couple pieces away, I think, from being contenders in the Eastern Conference,” Thomas said. “We won 48 games this year with a team that people didn’t think could do that. That says a lot about the direction we’re going in, and I know [team executive] Danny [Ainge] and those guys in the front office are going to do whatever they can to make this team the best possible team it can be. I do think we need that next star and that guy that can we depend on. Not to sound cocky, but not just myself. We need another option. Like I said, I go to the war with the fellas I have in that [Celtics] locker room right now and I love all those guys, but we do need a little more.
  • The Knicks reported hiring of Jeff Hornacek as head coach raises more questions than it answers, Ian Begley of ESPN.com writes. The addition of Hornacek calls into question how much influence team president Phil Jackson has left with owner James Dolan, the future of Kurt Rambis with the team and what offense New York will run, given that Hornacek has no experience with the triangle, Begley notes.
  • Restricted free agent Jared Sullinger proclaimed his loyalty to the Celtics and said he wants to re-sign with the team, but acknowledged a great deal of uncertainty surrounds the upcoming offseason, Kevin O’Connor of CSNNE.com writes.

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