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Atlantic Notes: J.R. Smith, Vogel, Saric, Embiid

J.R. Smith is having a strong playoff run for the Cavaliers, but he thinks back fondly on his time with the Knicks, as he reveals in a video for VICE Sports, pointing to his close friendship with Carmelo Anthony and the lure of Madison Square Garden (YouTube link). “Every person that plays in the NBA should experience playing in New York, at least once in your career,” Smith said. “To play at the mecca of basketball, at the Garden, every night, it’s probably the greatest decision I’ve ever made, to go to New York.” Smith, who can opt out of his contract this summer, spoke about his initial anger at the trade that sent him to Cleveland last January, but he also made it clear that he loves playing with LeBron James.

See more from New York amid the latest news from the Atlantic Division:

  • Frank Vogel‘s representatives gave positive signals to the Knicks when the team reached out to gauge his interest last week, a league source told Marc Berman of the New York Post, who nonetheless adds that the Grizzlies are a much more likely match for the ex-Pacers coach. Vogel is widely believed to be the favorite to take the Memphis job, as Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal wrote.
  • GM Bryan Colangelo wants to be reassured when he visits Dario Saric in Turkey later this month, but the Sixers expect the draft-and-stash prospect will join them for next season, and coach Brett Brown is particularly optimistic, as remarks he made Monday on The Comcast Network’s “Breakfast on Broad” show demonstrate. Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com has the transcription. “He so much wants to be a part of the 76ers organization when we speak,” Brown said. “I ended up sending him a photo of a young kid in the stands with a Saric jersey on, and the response is like what it is, ‘I can’t wait to get [to Philadelphia].’”
  • Still, financial incentive remains for Saric to wait to sign with the Sixers until 2017, when he’ll no longer be subject to the rookie scale, with one source who spoke to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer of the belief that Saric would be in line for a contract that pays him about $6MM a year. He’d get less than half that on a rookie scale deal.
  • Colangelo said on the same “Breakfast on Broad” program that the Sixers are encouraged by what they’ve seen from Joel Embiid as he continues to recover from last summer’s second surgery on his broken foot, Seltzer notes.
  • Willie Reed, who was away from the Nets for unexplained personal reasons at the end of the season, clearly wasn’t pleased with interim coach Tony Brown, but he likes new coach Kenny Atkinson and made it clear that he wants to re-sign with Brooklyn as he spoke Monday on the “Brown and Scoop” show on CBS Radio, as Anthony Parisi of NetsDaily relays.

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