Atlantic Notes: Tatum, Ujiri, Sixers, Lillard, Randle

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum went into the offseason thinking he may have needed surgery on his non-shooting wrist, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said on NBA Today (YouTube link). According to Shelburne, Tatum visited a bunch of specialists and opted against going under the knife.

Shelburne said that Tatum received a cortisone shot in his wrist, adding that the wrist feels “really good.”

Following the trade that sent Marcus Smart to the Grizzlies, Tatum is likely going to be seeing even more primary ball-handling duties. Shelburne reports that Tatum is “comfortable” initiating the offense and handling the ball, with his experience in the postseason helping him build confidence for that role.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors president Masai Ujiri‘s 10-year anniversary as the team’s top decision-maker came and went this offseason and his tenure has been marked by huge successes by the organization, including an NBA title in 2019. However, Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes that Ujiri’s record hasn’t been without misses, especially recently. Missing out on Damian Lillard is an example of a questionable decision, Koreen opines, and it leaves the franchise in a tricky situation moving forward. Importantly, Koreen notes that he doesn’t think that Ujiri is in any danger of being close to losing his position. I recommend reading the article in full, as Koreen evaluates and compares Ujiri’s tenure to other top decision-makers in the league.
  • While the Sixers didn’t land Lillard, Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports writes that Philadelphia is in a better position with Lillard on the Bucks rather than the Heat, who were heavily linked to the seven-time All-Star. Neubeck reasons that if Miami had landed Lillard, they would be firmly in the top tier of Eastern Conference teams ahead of the Sixers, along with the Bucks and Celtics. With Lillard on the Bucks, it makes Milwaukee better, but the Sixers are only behind two teams in the conference’s hierarchy, opines Neubeck. The deal also opens Philadelphia to make other moves via trade.
  • The Knicks have several storylines to watch for this upcoming season after earning the No. 5 seed and reaching the second round in the NBA playoffs in 2022/23. Zach Braziller of the New York Post argues that the biggest storyline surrounding the Knicks is the play of Julius Randle. In Braziller’s view, the Knicks will need Randle to step up in the postseason in order to increase their ceiling for next season and beyond.
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