Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Fernandez, Bridges, Knicks

Scottie Barnes is the least likely Raptors player to be on the move this summer, Eric Koreen of The Athletic states in his latest mailbag. That’s hardly surprising, considering Barnes is still just 21 years old and has two years left on his rookie scale contract.

The 2021/22 Rookie of the Year had a somewhat uneven sophomore season in ’22/23, with both his two-point percentage (50.5%) and three-point percentage (28.1%) declining (from 54.3% and 30.1%, respectively). In order for Barnes to become a more well-rounded offensive player, he needs to improve his shooting and ball-handling, according to Koreen, who says the former No. 4 overall pick’s passing is ahead of those two other skills at the moment.

Koreen would like to see the Raptors hire a head coach who can find the difficult balance of being “fiery” while able to present as “calm in the heat of things” when dealing with officials, as the team became “dangerously whiny” under Nick Nurse in recent seasons.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez interviewed (via Zoom) for the Raptors‘ head coaching vacancy on Friday morning, reports Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link). Known as a defensive-minded coach, Fernandez just completed his first season with Sacramento after six years on Michael Malone‘s staff in Denver. Fernandez was one of several coaching candidates listed for the job last week.
  • Mikal Bridges was outstanding for the Nets after being acquired at the trade deadline, increasing his scoring average and efficiency. In order for him to take the next step and become an All-Star, he’ll need to improve his play-making and ability to punish double teams, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (member-only link). “It’s just continuing to get better and work on things,” Bridges said. “…The thing about me is I’m just always trying to get better every year. I mean, that’s the biggest thing, and trying to be the best player I can be when it’s all said and done. There’s always room to grow, and this summer just learning things and adding more things to that routine.” Bridges hasn’t missed a game since his junior year of high school, Lewis notes, a welcome departure from the injury-plagued teams of the past few years.
  • One of the keys for the Knicks in their first-round victory over the Cavs was their incredible offensive rebounding, but they were unable to replicate that success in Sunday’s Game 1 loss to Miami, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. The Knicks averaged 18.2 second-chance points per game in five games against Cleveland, but only managed 11 yesterday, per Botte.
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