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Atlantic Notes: Ilyasova, Horford, Harris

The Sixers‘ swap with the Thunder that sent Jerami Grant to OKC in exchange for Ersan Ilyasova and a protected first-round draft pick signals a change in the organization’s philosophy from previous years, Derek Bodner of Philadelphia magazine writes. The team appears to no longer be comfortable with hoping to strike gold with castoffs and role-players, and the franchise is looking to make itself more attractive to potential free agents by maximizing its on court potential rather than looking ahead to the draft for a sense of hope, Bodner notes.

The scribe also ran down the benefits of Philly making the trade, noting that Ilyasova’s outside shooting is a boon to the team, considering the lack of deep threats on the team’s roster. Bodner also notes that Grant didn’t have a long-term future with the Sixers given his lack of offensive improvement and the wealth of forwards on the roster. While Bodner takes a generally favorable view of the trade, he does add that it remains to be seen how it will affect Dario Saric, whose playing time is likely to decrease, and how much Ilyasova will play once Ben Simmons is healthy enough to return to action. Saric is averaging a rookie-high 26.4 minutes per game through the Sixers’ first five contests, notching 9.6 points and 5.5 rebounds to go along with a shooting line of .358/.400/.571.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Kristaps Porzingis represents a major part of the Knicks‘ future, but coach Jeff Hornacek doesn’t want to place added pressure on the young big man and prefers not to make him the focal point of the team’s offense, Al Iannazzone of Newsday relays. “You don’t want to put that on a — what did he, just turn 21; second year in the league — when you have players like Carmelo Anthony and now Derrick Rose, guys who have proven it in this league for years,” Hornacek said. “We try not to make [Porzingis] the focal point, but we’re trying not to make Carmelo necessarily the focal point or Derrick the focal point. We want everybody to be involved.
  • Celtics center Al Horford, who has missed three games after suffering a concussion in practice last week, has not shown much improvement and his return date still remains in question, Mike Petraglia of WEEI 93.7 FM writes. He has not advanced in the protocol, based on what I’ve been told,” coach Brad Stevens said. “I have not gotten anything deeper than that but he did not do anything with our team today.” 
  • Joe Harris has been a pleasant surprise for the Nets thus far this season and he credit the team’s coaching staff for giving him the room to develop, something that he was afforded during his time with the Cavs, Bryan Fonseca of NetsDaily relays. “Looking back at my time in Cleveland, it was really valuable in a lot of ways,” Harris said. “Just being around some really high level players, guys that have had a lot of success, I’ve learned a lot from them just by watching. [Cleveland’s] emphasis wasn’t necessarily on letting guys learn through mistakes. It was more so, ‘you come in, and you help impact the game’ because they’re trying to win championships. I feel like the vibe here is a little bit more, ‘if you make a mistake, so be it, you’ve got to learn through it.’ It’s different to be a guy like where I was in Cleveland chasing after spots with guys in front of me like Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Richard Jefferson.

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