Eastern Notes: Knicks, Batum, Hoiberg

The Knicks increasingly sense that Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton won’t leave Golden State for a head coaching job this summer, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Knicks team president Phil Jackson is in contact with Bulls executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson, who used to play for the Zen Master, and Jackson isn’t impressed with Tom Thibodeau, who worked for Paxson as Bulls coach, Berman writes. The Post scribe also implies Jackson isn’t about to go out of his way to hire former Nuggets coach Brian Shaw, leaving few options other than interim coach Kurt Rambis, whom Berman hears is closer with Jackson than just about any coach is with his boss and allows Jackson the level of input he’s longed for. However, Knicks players don’t respect Rambis as much as they did former coach Derek Fisher, sources indicated to Berman.

While we wait to see just who gets the job in New York, see more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Assistant coach Jim Cleamons, a former NBA point guard, was allowed only limited contact with rookie point guard Jerian Grant while Fisher was coach, but those restrictions have been lifted since Rambis took over, Berman reports in the same piece.
  • An NBA GM told The Oregonian’s John Canzano he thinks Nicolas Batum will be able to command salaries of $15MM to $17MM in free agency this summer (Twitter link). That’s well beneath the roughly $25MM maximum salary, though Zach Lowe of ESPN.com wrote in January that the Hornets swingman was likely to draw max offers. Batum is No. 9 in the Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings.
  • Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has drawn criticism for his inability to reach players, but, perhaps buoyed by Taj Gibson‘s support, Hoiberg insists the locker room is united, notes K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune“You have to have that continuity in the locker room, that unity,” Hoiberg said. “You have to look like you’re getting your message across. And I think we’ve done that with the guys. I can just base it on how our film sessions are going and how when they’re on the [practice] floor, they’re locked in. I feel like we have good chemistry with our staff and players.”
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