Eastern Notes: Stephenson, Knicks, Butler

The Hornets are one of the league’s more prominent early season disappointments after their success last season. The team’s biggest offseason acquisition, Lance Stephenson, hasn’t produced as expected, and he is still trying to learn Charlotte’s system and fit in with his new teammates, Steve Reed of The Associated Press writes. Head coach Steve Clifford said he’s not down on Stephenson, and he said expectations for him coming into organization might have been too high, notes Reed. “To be fair, one of the things that’s made it more difficult for him is that he came here and people proclaimed him as the next superstar,” Clifford said. “He’s not a star. He’s a guy that has talent to become a star. To be a star in this league, you have to do it over years.”

Here’s the latest from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Knicks aren’t seeing much from the Tyson Chandler trade, and with the confidence from Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace and teammate Zach Randolph that free agent target Marc Gasol will stay in Memphis, times are tough in New York, opines Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.
  • Marcus Smart‘s assignment to the D-League by the Celtics today is to get him some reps since the rookie hasn’t gone through a full practice with scrimmaging since suffering a left ankle injury on November 7th, Jay King of MassLive.com notes. “I didn’t think he looked ready,” head coach Brad Stevens said. “Nothing to do [with] physically; he hasn’t practiced. I felt like it would be better to go with Phil Pressey and Gerald Wallace. They would give us the same things that Marcus gave us and they’ve been traveling with the team and everything else. It’s kind of tough to just throw him in there. I hadn’t even seen him until we got to the gym today.
  • The WizardsRasual Butler is the perfect example of how hard work can lead to success for a journeyman player, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. Butler was asked why he kept working out for over a year when no NBA teams came calling, to which he responded, “Because I wanted to play basketball. It’s very easy. It’s a simple answer. If you’re serious about doing what you love to do, then you’re going to do whatever it takes for you to continue to do what you love to do. Some people say they love to play the game. If you love to play the game, you’ve got to go through the steps. You can’t give up on your story.” Butler is a key reserve for Washington, and is third in the league in three-point shooting percentage at a blistering 56.4%, notes Zillgitt

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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