Arron Afflalo knew it was time to leave New York after being benched by interim coach Kurt Rambis and learning that the team was pursuing Courtney Lee, relays Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Afflalo spent just one year with the Knicks, opting out of an $8MM deal for this season and reaching a two-year, $25MM agreement with the Kings. His season in New York was marked by a coaching change, the demotion and other turmoil. “It’s hard to get a genuine experience with anything when you haven’t had longevity or there are a lot of changes taking place, whether it’s changes with my individual role or with the coaching staff or the environment as a whole,” Afflalo said. “Six months is a short season when you’re not a playoff team and you’re going through a lot of changes, but they seem to be doing better now. I think as the core group, with Melo [Carmelo Anthony] and KP [Kristaps Porzingis], and the guys that they bring in continuing to get better, New York will be okay.”
There’s more news from the Atlantic Division:
- Thunder coach Billy Donovan is still a believer in Joakim Noah despite a difficult first month with the Knicks, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Donovan, who coached Noah on two national championship teams at the University of Florida, says the center’s competitive spirit will help him overcome a slow start. Noah is averaging 4.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game after signing a four-year, $72MM contract this summer. “He’s going to continue to improve and get better as a player, he’s going to put his work in,” Donovan said. “But he’s one of the guys in my opinion that’s truly all about sacrifice, team and winning. I think he’ll bring that to the Knicks throughout the entire season.”
- Nik Stauskas looks like a long-term fit with the Sixers after a rocky start to his NBA career, according to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. After being picked eighth in the 2014 NBA draft, Stauskas had an unproductive rookie season in Sacramento before being traded to Philadelphia. It took Stauskas time to find his way with the Sixers, but he has developed into a valuable bench player, averaging 10.2 points per game and shooting 44.6% from 3-point range. “I’m just having fun out there again, enjoying myself and kind of figured that when I’m having fun, that’s when I’m playing my best basketball and just been trying to tune out any negativity or any self doubt or anything like that,” Stauskas said.
- Rookie point guard Isaiah Whitehead is becoming more of a vocal leader for the Nets, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Brooklyn has needed Whitehead to develop quickly after an injury to Jeremy Lin, and coach Kenny Atkinson is encouraged by how he has responded. “There’s on-court technical development and physical development,” Atkinson said. “But leadership development, all the players are commenting, he’s changing, he’s talking to us, he’s opening up, he’s asking us questions. It’s big.”