Eastern Notes: Porzingis, Horford, P. Williams, Nets

Kristaps Porzingis‘ former Wizards teammates and head coach Wes Unseld Jr. had nothing but praise for the big man after facing him on Monday for the first time since his trade to the Celtics, per Jay King and Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Unseld referred to Porzingis as a “great human being,” Kyle Kuzma said he “left a lasting impact on me,” and Deni Avdija said “you’d love coming to work with him.”

That affection is mutual, according to Porzingis, who admitted on Monday that he didn’t enter the offseason expecting to leave D.C.

“I went into the summer thinking I would like to stay (in Washington) long term and that was my home, but in the NBA, everything changes so fast,” Porzingis said. “You can get traded at any time, and I could have gotten traded during the season. You never know. So it just happened this way and I couldn’t have asked for a better scenario during the summer, honestly. I miss that place, but they had a different route they wanted to go and I completely understand that.”

Although Porzingis may not have initially been eager to leave Washington, he has been a seamless fit so far in Boston, as King and Robbins outline. His ability to stretch the floor and to score in the low post has helped diversify the Celtics’ offense, and he provides added rim protection on the defensive end of the court.

“He just changes our late-game frequency,” head coach Joe Mazzulla said on Monday. “In New York (last Wednesday) we posted a little bit, and (in the) last game we were able to continue to play out of the post. And it forces teams to kind of match up with us a little bit more traditionally and it allows us to kind of get to our spots.”

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Celtics big man Al Horford spoke to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com about his new role coming off the bench, how much longer he may want to continue playing, and why he’s unlikely to go ring-chasing in free agency during his final years in the NBA.
  • Bulls forward Patrick Williams, who was the only starter with a negative plus/minus rating (-7) in Monday’s win over Indiana, needs to figure things out sooner rather than later, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. While developing the former lottery pick has been a priority in recent years, the Bulls are very much in win-now mode and Williams will be a free agent at season’s end, so the team can’t afford to be patient for much longer. “I don’t think there’s anything with Patrick that’s, ‘Hey just wait on me,'” head coach Billy Donovan said. “He wants to help the team, but he also knows he needs to figure it out on his end.”
  • Although there’s optimism in Brooklyn about a bounce-back season for Ben Simmons, the Nets still need to figure out how to maximize his abilities when he’s sharing the court with center Nic Claxton, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Head coach Jacque Vaughn believes lineups featuring Simmons and Claxton – who has been out since opening night due to an ankle injury – can make up for their lack of spacing by turning defensive stops into fast-break opportunities. “It’s staring us in the face that we are better at playing in transition and in full-court basketball than in the half court,” Vaughn said. “And the sooner we realize that as a group, the better off we’re going to be.”
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