Hornets point guard Jeremy Lin says Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson helped lay the groundwork for “Lin-sanity,” relays Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Atkinson, who will become the Nets’ new head coach once Atlanta’s playoff run is complete, aided in Lin’s development when both were with the Knicks. “I’ll text after a game at midnight, one o’clock when I go home,” Lin recalls, “and I’ll say, ‘Hey, can I look at those turnovers? Can I look at the upcoming team? How they run pick-and-rolls?’ And he’ll have the film ready when I walk into the facility the next morning. When I wasn’t playing much, we were working out before practice, and after practice, he was picking apart my game, teaching me what it’s like to play in Coach [Mike] D’Antoni’s system.”
There’s more from the Southeast Division:
- Restricted free agent Bradley Beal said he and backcourt partner John Wall both have to play better for the Wizards to be successful, according to J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic. The fourth-year shooting guard was limited to a career-low 55 games this season and was placed on a minutes restriction after doctors found “the beginnings of a stress reaction in his lower right fibula” in December. “It’s been a rocky year in terms of injuries, offense changing, getting used to playing with new guys on the team and adjusting to a few things,” Beal said. “We both should’ve had a better year than we had. We should’ve carried the team a little better than what we did. We both can attest to it.”
- The Hawks‘ Al Horford stands to more than double his salary in free agency and may change the perception of who deserves a max contract, writes Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders. Horford is making $12MM this season, but when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer after completing his ninth NBA season, he will be eligible for a contract starting at approximately 30% of the salary cap, or about $26MM. Hamilton says that may seem expensive for a player who has never averaged 20 points per game, but Horford will likely define the market for fellow free agents Pau Gasol, Dwyane Wade, Mike Conley and Harrison Barnes.
- The Hawks sent Lamar Patterson back to the Austin Spurs of the D-League to finish their playoff series, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Journal Constitution. Atlanta recalled Patterson on Friday after Tim Hardaway Jr. suffered a groin injury.