Atlantic Notes: Van Gundy, Knicks, Robinson, Harden, Nets

Current Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau worked in New York as an assistant on Jeff Van Gundy‘s staff from 1996-2001. Over two decades later, Van Gundy has been hired as a senior consultant by the division-rival Celtics.

Asked on Saturday about Van Gundy joining the Celtics, Thibodeau joked that it was “disgusting,” writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Thibodeau was also asked if the Knicks had offered Van Gundy a similar role and hinted that Boston was a better fit for his former boss and longtime friend.

“Obviously, he’s had a lot of opportunities to do a lot of things. We’re very close friends, obviously,” Thibodeau said. “So, I’m happy for him because there are certain things that he’s looking for and I think he was able to find them there. He’s not only a great coach. He’s a great person. So, whatever is next for him, I know he’ll be great at it. But I just want him to be happy and I think he will be.”

Let’s round up a few more items from around the Atlantic…

  • As Steve Popper of Newsday (subscription required) relays, center Mitchell Robinson was pleased to hear that he one of six Knicks to make ESPN’s annual list of the NBA’s top 100 players — even if he came in at the very bottom of that list, at No. 100. Thibodeau suggested on Saturday that people sometimes “overlook” what Robinson does on the court. “I think he brings great value to the team because of offensive rebounding, the pressure on the rim, the screening,” Thibodeau said. “Those things are huge for our offense. When you understand the value of shots, the kick-out threes, getting to the free-throw line, getting to the bonus early each quarter, those are things that help you win.”
  • In his latest look at James Harden‘s standoff with the Sixers, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscription required) says the star guard is “ramping up” to play in the team’s preseason finale, and adds that the Clippers have shown no inclination to improve their trade offer of a first-round pick, a pick swap, and expiring contracts. The 76ers want guard Terance Mann in a Harden package, but a source tells Pompey that Daryl Morey knows Mann is “untouchable.”
  • With Dennis Smith Jr. sidelined for at least the next week due to a sprained ankle, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn will have more opportunities to evaluate his other point guards – Ben Simmons and Spencer Dinwiddie – playing “together and separately,” he noted on Saturday. “I think Spencer has the ability to space the floor for us and shoot threes,” Vaughn said, per Peter Botte of The New York Post. “And so that is a weapon for us that we want to use. Those two on the floor, though, either one can get an outlet and push the ball up the floor. [Dinwiddie] has the ability to be a lead guard, also. So I’ll continue to play around with that.”
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