Atlantic Notes: Love, Knicks, Valanciunas

Brad Stevens would be a great coaching fit for Kevin Love if the big man chose to opt out of his deal with the Cavs and sign with the Celtics this offseason, Tim Welsh of opines. “He fits in as a guy that can score, an up-front scorer. They [the Celtics] don’t have that. They’re built on guys, a lot of wing players … they’ve got the two tough guards out front with Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart that can really defend,” Welsh said. “And I think the thing with Kevin Love, too — and other free agents will obviously look at — is what Brad Stevens has done. He’s kind of resurrected a lot of different guys here in a short period of time.” Welsh cited Evan Turner, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Jonas Jerebko as examples of players whose games Stevens has elevated.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors have a decision to make regarding Jonas Valanciunas, who is eligible to sign an extension this offseason, Eric Koreen of The National Post writes. The reference point for a new contract would be the four-year, $53MM extension that the Magic inked with Nikola Vucevic last offseason, Koreen notes. If the Raptors do indeed sign Valanciunas to a long-term deal, they have to commit to integrating him a bit more in the offense, because Valanciunas does not provide the defensive value that justifies a salary similar to Vucevic’s, Koreen concludes.
  • Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge believes that Gigi Datome has a place in the NBA, though he isn’t sure if the team will have a roster spot for the Italian next season, Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald writes. “This is a really hard business,” Ainge said. “There’s 400 players in this league, and 60 more who get drafted each year. You’ve got a former NBA player of the week in Jordan Crawford who can’t get back in the league the next year. Now he’s leading [the Fort Wayne Mad Ants] to the D-League finals. So you don’t know. But in my eyes Gigi has proven that he’s an NBA player.” Datome can become a restricted free agent if Boston tenders him a qualifying offer this summer worth $2,187,500.
  • Since James Dolan purchased the Knicks the franchise has continually tried to sell its fanbase on the promise of the future, a trend that continues under team president Phil Jackson, Johnette Howard of writes.

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