Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Nets, Celtics, Sixers

After the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, some Raptors fans may have turned an eye toward the offseason, with many difficult decisions awaiting the franchise this summer. However, two games later, the possibility of Toronto sneaking past the Cavaliers and into the NBA Finals is suddenly more viable, postponing those summer plans for now.

Still, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders observes (via Twitter), Bismack Biyombo‘s terrific postseason performance could create some problems for next year’s Raptors squad, since the team only holds the big man’s Non-Bird rights. The Raps would need to pay Biyombo with cap room, but wouldn’t have that cap room on hand if DeMar DeRozan returns on a lucrative new deal. Meanwhile, the Raptors are the only team remaining in the playoffs that has a top-10 draft pick, and GM Masai Ujiri will have plenty of options as he weighs whether to use or trade the ninth and 27th overall selections in this year’s draft, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star.

As we wait to see how Toronto’s season – and offseason – plays out, let’s check in on a few more items related to the club’s division rivals…

  • Nuggets assistant coach Chris Fleming will be heading to the Nets, joining Kenny Atkinson‘s staff in Brooklyn, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link).
  • A group of veteran free agents will work out for the Nets at a mini-camp this week, and former first overall pick Anthony Bennett is expected to be among the players in attendance, tweets Ian Begley of Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops (Twitter link) adds Joel Wright to the list of participants for the Nets’ mini-camp, while Nets Daily provides several more names.
  • Appearing on WBZ-TV’s Sports Final on Sunday night, Celtics GM Danny Ainge said he wants to improve his team this summer “without selling out,” per Mike Petraglia of In other words, Boston isn’t about to surrender a ton of draft assets to improve right away — the focus will be on improving the Celtics’ current roster while continuing to build a team capable of sustained success. Determining the best way to carry out that plan will be similar to putting together a jigsaw puzzle for Ainge and the C’s, according to Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald.
  • The 76ers, an Atlantic team that has been focused exclusively on the future for several years, are ready to start “thinking about winning” rather than “prolonging the building process,” new executive Bryan Colangelo said on Bleacher Report Radio this weekend (Twitter link via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report). In the view of Derek Bodner of, the Sixers need to kick off the offseason by using the No. 1 overall pick on the best player available, rather than the one who would fit the best.
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