Eastern Notes: Bulls, Hezonja, Knicks

Joakim Noah, a 2016 free agent, hasn’t started a game, has career lows in nearly every statistic and is not in position to contribute more because the Bulls have changed into more of a 3-point shooting team, Sam Smith of NBA.com notes. While Pau Gasol, who has a player option on the final season of a three-year, $22.3MM contract that brought him to Chicago in 2014, has not struggled as much as Noah has, his production is much lower than it has been in recent years, Smith adds. Both players, of course, are getting up there in age (Noah is 30 and Gasol is 35), but feel healthy, Smith writes, and that adds to the frustration of not being able to help the team more.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Magic rookie swingman Mario Hezonja has shown flashes of the potential that made the Magic select him fifth overall in the draft, but his rookie mistakes on defense have led to a cut in his minutes, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel details. To his credit, Hezonja has been willing to learn from his mistakes and has fit in well with the Magic’s young locker room, Robbins adds. “Oftentimes, he’s just not ready,” Magic coach Scott Skiles said. “He’s not aware and he’s not ready. He knows it.”
  • The Bulls assigned Cameron Bairstow to the Austin Spurs of the D-League, Chicago announced in a press release. Bairstow is headed to Austin as part of the flexible assignment rule since Chicago is without a one-to-one partnership with a D-League team.
  • Carmelo Anthony is not surprised by Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis‘ hot start, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Porzingis has six double-doubles in his first 14 NBA games, as Berman points out. “Man, he’s 7’3″,’’ Anthony said. “There was only concern because people didn’t know and nobody ever saw him before. People were all so upset the Knicks drafted him. When you’re 7’3″, you just put your hands up and block a shot. For him to have seven blocks, it didn’t surprise me. [But] nobody expected [24] and 14, seven blocks. Nobody expected that, but I’ll take it.’’
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