Atlantic Notes: Fournier, Grimes, Robinson, Celtics, Melton

The Knicks used just nine players on Tuesday for the first time this season, removing Evan Fournier and Quentin Grimes from their rotation entirely, says Zach Braziller of The New York Post. The trimmed-down rotation was effective, as the team picked up a nice road win in Utah, beating the Jazz 118-111.

“We wanted to see what it would look like and it gave us, I thought, better rhythm,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That’s why we did it.”

Fournier’s role has gradually diminished over the course of the season, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he doesn’t get another shot at regular minutes right away. However, Grimes is considered a key part of the Knicks’ future and seems unlikely to be out of the rotation on a permanent basis.

Here are a few more items from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Thibodeau said on Tuesday that Knicks center Mitchell Robinson is “making good progress” in his recovery from a sprained right knee, but it remains unclear when he’ll be cleared to return, Braziller writes for The New York Post. According to Braziller, although Robinson is doing some work in practices, he’s not yet taking contact.
  • In the latest episode of his Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said that people around the NBA think Spurs center Jakob Poeltl may be a trade target that appeals to the Celtics, given the uncertainty surrounding Robert Williams‘ health. “The question is, ‘Does this team need to go out and get another big man who can defend?'” Windhorst said, per RealGM. “The name that has come up that people have speculated has been Jakob Poeltl from the Spurs. They did a deal with the Spurs last year, obviously, for Derrick White.” Poeltl is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2023 and it’s unclear if San Antonio views him as part of the team’s long-term plan.
  • While his arrival in the offseason was somewhat overshadowed by James Harden‘s pay cut and the signing of P.J. Tucker, De’Anthony Melton has proved invaluable to the Sixers due to his versatility and defensive ability, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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