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Eastern Notes: Fournier, Noah, Johnson

When the Knicks and the Bulls square off tonight, it will mark the first time Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose will play in Chicago since departing the franchise over the summer. Both players have expressed their happiness to be in New York this season and Noah agreed with his former team’s decision to break up its longtime core, Ian Begley of ESPN.com relays. “I think it was time for change,” Noah said. “There’s no question about that. It seems like this is a happy group, enjoy being around one another. That’s good. That’s what it’s all about, that’s how it should be.

The center touched upon the 2015/16 season, which was a frustrating one for the player all around, Begley adds. “I look back on it, I was definitely frustrated,” Noah said. “There was definitely a lot of adversity going on there. I can look back at it and see where things went wrong. It’s not about blaming one person. Everybody in that locker room is good people. It’s just [expletive] happens. It’s a locker room. At the end of the day the things I remember the most are good memories from everybody. I have no hard feelings towards anybody.

Here’s more from the East:

  • Cavs shooting guard J.R. Smith noted that during his prolonged free agency this offseason he played a round of golf with Celtics executive Danny Ainge, Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com relays. Despite Boston having interest in potentially signing the veteran scorer, Smith said their chatter was mostly golf-related, Forberg adds. “We talked about [Smith’s free-agent status], but mainly we kept it to golf and stuff like that,” Smith said. “I told him I would let my agent handle all of that stuff. So it was great to play golf with him.” Boston ultimately signed Gerald Green to a one-year, minimum salary deal to fill out the team’s wing rotation.
  • Evan Fournier, who signed a five-year, $85MM deal this summer to remain with the Magic, says the contract isn’t making him feel added pressure to perform this season, notes Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel. “When I start the game, I’m not like, ‘If I don’t score 25, we’re not going to win the game.’ I want to be aggressive, of course, because when I’m aggressive and can create a little more. It’s good for the team,” Fournier told the scribe. “The contract didn’t change anything. The biggest difference is playing the 2 [shooting guard] and not the 3 [small forward]. That’s the biggest difference.”
  • Second-year player Stanley Johnson is struggling thus far this campaign and the Pistons‘ coaching staff is trying to position the swingman to adapt to being an all-around player with one strength first — then progressing to other areas, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “He has been a primary scorer his whole life and it’s tough for him to not play that way,” coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said. “Right now, that’s not the best way to play. I’m not trying to hold the guy back or limit him. What I’ve tried to point out to him is his development. The guy I’ve tried to use as an example with him who came in the league the same way is Jimmy Butler.”

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