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Atlantic Notes: Okafor, Embiid, Lopez, Lin

Minutes restrictions have made it difficult for the Sixers to get Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid on the court at the same time, but Okafor tells Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly that he sees a bright future for the pairing. The two young centers teamed up for the first time in today’s games with the Hawks, but only for about two minutes in the second quarter. “I think once we figure it out, we can really dominate together,” Okafor said. There have been rumors for months that the Sixers are interested in making a trade to clear up their logjam in the middle with Okafor, Embiid and Nerlens Noel.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • It’s only the third game of the season, but the Nets are already giving center Brook Lopez a day off, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn, in the middle of a stretch of four games in six nights, plans to be careful about Lopez’s minutes all season. The ninth-year center, who has been through three foot surgeries, compares it to being on a pitch count. “What we’re trying to do with Brook is take the long-term approach, just build him up as the season goes on and increase his minutes. We have a plan in place,’’ said new Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. “It’s learning the system, it’s looking at a long-term approach to how we’re going to build him up in terms of minutes as the season goes on. He’s got some miles on him.”
  • Atkinson is ready for a new chapter with Jeremy Lin after contributing heavily to “Linsanity” in New York, writes Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. Atkinson was an assistant with the Knicks at the time and did a lot of individual work with Lin. “He knows I came here to take on this challenge with him,” Lin said. “And deep down inside, I know that when he got this job, the first thing he wanted to do was come and get me. We’re in this together. And we’re deeply embedded in this challenge.”
  • New Raptors GM Jeff Weltman doesn’t mind working in anonymity, relays Steve Simmons of The Toronto Sun. Team president Masai Ujiri gets credit for building last year’s Eastern Conference finalist, but Weltman, who was promoted to his new position last month, is happy to be part of the team. “It’s easier [to be unknown],” said Weltman. “I truly think the only way we’re going to win is if we don’t have egos. That’s Masai’s belief also. It’s what we try and instill in all our players. … I was brought up to believe that and Masai’s known that for a long time. There’s no one here trying to pat themselves on the back or get noticed. We just want to win. All the rewards will come from that.”

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