Justin Hamilton wasn’t seriously considering the Nets as a free agent until he met with GM Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson, Ryan Lazo of the New York Post reports. After a productive season in Spain, Hamilton attracted a lot of attention from NBA clubs before he signed a two-year, $6MM contract with Brooklyn. The 7-foot center has emerged as a key reserve, averaging 9.8 points and 5.5 rebounds. “They were kind of like the dark horse in there,” Hamilton told Lazo of the free agent process. “I was hearing from a lot of teams and my agent would always slip in Brooklyn. Then when I finally got to talk to Sean and Kenny, it was a great conversation. I didn’t even realize they were watching me over there and following me.”
In other news around the Atlantic Division:
- Knicks rookie Willy Hernangomez has been inserted into the rotation but his first outing in that role was a mixed bag, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Hernangomez grabbed 12 rebounds in 23 minutes against the Celtics on Friday but also made five turnovers and blew a couple of layups. The 6’10” Hernangomez has displaced Kyle O’Quinn, who only played three garbage-time minutes. Hernangomez was signed to a partially-guaranteed four-year, $5.9MM contract in July.
- Getting a clearer vision of the current roster, rather than wins and losses, is paramount for the Sixers this season, Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Inquirer opines. Finding out whether Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor can play together, determining whether Sergio Rodriguez can thrive in the role of backup point guard, and seeing if power forward Ersan Ilyasova is worth re-signing are some of the issues that need to be sorted out, according to Cooney.
- Celtics forward Al Horford is close to returning after missing five games with a concussion, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe relays. Horford was injured during a Halloween practice. “It’s been a challenge for me because I’ve had to be patient,” he told Himmelsbach. “The good thing is that now I’m at the point that I’m starting to feel good again.”