Eastern Notes: J.R. Smith, Carmelo, Hawks

Eastern Conference teams have lured more veterans than Western Conference teams so far in free agency and trades this offseason, as I examined late last month, but the East didn’t really make a dent in terms of star power. The chasm between the conferences seemingly remains wide, and with the Western Conference elite further strengthening, it seems the easiest path to the Finals will again run through the East, though the defending conference champion Cavs might dispute that. Check out a Cleveland-related item amid the latest from the Eastern Conference:

  • J.R. Smith said he wants to “be somewhere I can make a difference” as he discussed his free agency with reporters in Guam, where he held a camp with close friend and recent Heat signee Gerald Green, notes Grant Wieman of the Pacific Daily News (hat tip to Chris Fedor of the Northeast Ohio Media Group). Smith said two weeks ago that he’d like to re-sign with the Cavaliers“I would love to be a starter, but it depends on the situation and what team I’m on,” Smith said. “Cleveland is in a situation where they don’t really need me to start. I can come off the bench and bring the energy and stuff like that.”
  • Knicks broadcaster and team employee Walt “Clyde” Frazier wonders in an interview with Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com whether Carmelo Anthony will ask for a trade if the team doesn’t make noticeable progress this year. It wouldn’t be surprising if Anthony did just that, given lingering questions about whether team president Phil Jackson, coach Derek Fisher and the triangle can succeed and the challenge of attracting marquee free agents to a losing team, as Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal speculates (All Twitter links).
  • The deals that Lamar Patterson and Terran Petteway signed with the Hawks are both two-year, minimum-salary arrangments with $75K partial guarantees for this season, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).

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