Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Celtics, McCullough

Knicks president Phil Jackson expects lottery pick Kristaps Porzingis to play approximately 20 minutes a game in his rookie season, he told Charley Rosen in Part 8 of a nine-part series posted on “It’s entirely up to [coach Derek Fisher], but it would be great if KP could get as much as 20 minutes a game early in the season, plus maybe a few more later when he’s acclimated to the NBA game,” Jackson said to Rosen. “It also has to be determined whether he’ll be more comfortable at power forward or center.” Jackson is concerned that Porzingis may have trouble putting on enough muscle to play in the low post. “His core strength might never be good enough, and he might not be able to get low enough to get himself into prime defensive position to body power rebounders or drivers,” Jackson told Rosen. Jackson added that Jerian Grant, who was acquired in a draft-day trade with the Hawks for Tim Hardaway Jr., will compete with Langston Galloway for playing time at either guard spot.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • Tyler Zeller has a better chance than Celtics teammates Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III to receive a contract extension before the start of the regular season, A. Sherrod Blakely of reports. Out of the trio from the 2012 draft, Zeller was the most effective player last season, averaging 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds with an above-average 19.01 player efficiency rating, Blakely continues. Sullinger has battled weight and conditioning issues during his career while Jones, who was traded by the Thunder to Boston in July, has to establish his value after receiving limited playing time in his three seasons with Oklahoma City, Blakely adds.
  • Nets draft pick Chris McCullough may return as early as November from the torn right ACL he suffered while playing for Syracuse last season, according to Brandon Bennett of While there is no timetable for McCullough’s return, a November target appears to be right on track, Bennett adds. McCullough was expected to miss the upcoming season when he was selected with the No. 29 overall pick.
  • Cory Joseph, who left the Spurs and signed a four-year, $30MM deal with the Raptors, wants to display his two-way game while playing for Team Canada in next month’s Olympic qualifying tournament, Josh Lewenberg of reports. “Obviously everybody knows I’m a defensive player,” Joseph said to Lewenberg. “I take pride in my defense. Last year, I was able to show a little bit of my two-way game when [Patty Mills] and [Tony Parker] were out early in the season. So I’m looking to continue to show that I’m a two-way player.”
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