Eastern Notes: Knicks, Varejao, Hornets, Heat

The Magic supplemented their coterie of young players with veteran signees like Channing Frye, Ben Gordon and Luke Ridnour this summer, but much more significant moves have to happen for the team to become a contender again, as Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel argues. The team has failed to land marquee free agent talent in recent years, and it’ll be a challenge to contend without the benefit of a No. 1 overall pick, Schmitz writes. Only the Bulls and Cavs look like true title contenders in the East this year, but with the season looming, we’ll soon find out if there are any surprises in store. Here’s the latest from around the East:

  • Phil Jackson believes that the Knicks should make the playoffs this year, as he declares in an interview with Steve Serby of the New York Post. Jackson also disputed the notion that the Knicks didn’t offer Steve Kerr as much to coach the team as they gave Derek Fisher. The Zen Master added that during negotiations with Carmelo Anthony on his new contract, ‘Melo repeatedly expressed a desire for the team to alleviate some of his scoring burden.
  • People close to Anderson Varejao advised him to buck for a trade the past few years, but he says he never wanted to leave the Cavs and can’t see himself playing for another team, as he tells Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Varejao can hit free agency next summer.
  • Hornets signees Justin Cobbs, Dallas Lauderdale and Brian Qvale are all on non-guaranteed contracts for the minimum salary that cover one season, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
  • The Heat named Phil Weber the coach of their D-League affiliate, the team announced. Weber, a longtime NBA assistant coach, had been serving as a consultant for Miami.
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