Atlantic Notes: Harden, Clifford, Knicks, Riller

Injuries limited the Nets‘ Big Three from the time James Harden joined Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in January, but Harden is optimistic that things will be different this season, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post“At full strength, nobody can beat us,” Harden proclaimed.

The trio played just eight games together during the regular season, and the bad luck continued through the playoffs as Harden aggravated a strained hamstring in the second-round series with the Bucks and Irving missed the final three games after injuring his right ankle.

“So I want to make sure I’m completely healed and strong enough so I can go out there and completely be myself,” Harden said. “My rehab is going very, very well, and my getting my conditioning right is a big part of that.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Former Magic head coach Steve Clifford will be a consultant with the Nets this season, but his duties haven’t been fully defined, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Clifford said he will help coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks with whatever they need. “Steve and I have had a few discussions about the best way for it to be structured. But basically I’ll be working for Steve and maybe in some instances for Sean on any area that they view I could be helpful with,” Clifford explained. “On any staff, staff chemistry is just like team chemistry. Steve’s the head coach, he’s already proven to be terrific at that; they have a veteran staff, a talented roster.”
  • The Knicks emphasized flexibility in nearly all their free agency moves, notes Ian Begley of Contracts for Evan Fournier, Derrick Rose, Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel all have team options for the final season, while Taj Gibson‘s two-year deal is non-guaranteed for the second season. New York will have the chance to create some cap space in 2023, Begley adds.
  • Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice examines what new two-way player Grant Riller will bring to the Sixers.
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