Eastern Notes: Afflalo, Mirotic, Jennings

Knicks shooting guard Arron Afflalo is fine with playing second fiddle to small forward Carmelo Anthony in New York, but he’s ready to answer the call as the team’s go-to player if needed, Mike Coppinger of USA Today writes. “[Anthony] is one of the best scorers of all time, so I don’t mind being second fiddle to that,” said Afflalo. “But, for example, if he ever was to get hurt, or if he’s out of the game for any reason, I don’t have any issues with stepping into that role.”

Most NBA players begin to decline when they reach the age of 30, but Afflalo, who turned 30 in October, believes he can buck that trend, Coppinger relays. “I think I’m only going to get better as I get older because of my style of play,” Afflalo said. “I like to play a more post game, spot-up 3s, coming off screens. These are things that as long as you’re in good condition – I’m not really relying on heavy speed or heavy athleticism – I’m more relying on my footwork and skill and my body. So I feel as I get older with more experience, I’m just going to get better with age.

Here’s the latest from the Central Division:

  • Bulls combo forward Nikola Mirotic is struggling with his confidence this season after losing his spot as a starter, but he understands he needs to keep working to regain his form, K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune writes. “I’m struggling a little bit now and not shooting well,” Mirotic said. “I’m not feeling the same confidence I was before. The only way to get it back is to work hard and stay positive. I need to forget what happened yesterday. I’m not scoring easy baskets. I’m not running like before. I’m not making those open 3s. I’m not doing things in the low post. But if I can do it last year in March, I can do it this year, too. I think it will come soon.
  • Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy is pleased with Brandon Jennings‘ performance leading the team’s second unit, but he doesn’t think the point guard will be back to full speed until training camp next season, MLive’s David Mayo notes. “For the most part, our team has played well with him on the court, I think because of the way he pushes the ball, and moves the ball, and everything else,” Van Gundy said. “Not only are you coming back off injury, but you miss 30-plus games, and you missed all of the summer. It just takes time to get back into it.
  • The Celtics have assigned James Young to their D-League affiliate in Maine, the team announced.
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