Eastern Notes: Atkinson, Bryant, Highsmith, Jovic, Harris

Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson is the leading candidate for the Cavaliers head coaching job but Knicks associate head coach Johnnie Bryant has a legitimate chance, too, Jason Lloyd of The Athletic tweets.

Bryant has ties to Donovan Mitchell, Lloyd notes, since he was an assistant there before the Jazz dealt Mitchell to the Cavaliers. Owner Dan Gilbert is heavily involved in the process of selecting J.B. Bickerstaff‘s replacement., Lloyd adds.

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported last week that Atkinson had emerged as the favorite to land the Cavaliers’ job.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Haywood Highsmith would like to stay with the Heat but that may not be feasible due to salary cap restrictions, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald notes. Highsmith will undoubtedly get a significant raise from his $1.9MM salary this season but if the Heat try to meet his market value, estimated in the $8-10MM annual range, they’ll be pushed up against the punitive second tax apron. Highsmith appeared in 66 regular season games and averaged career highs in points (6.1 per game), assists (1.1), steals (0.8), blocks (0.5) and minutes (20.7) while shooting career-bests from the field (46.5%) and three-point range (39.6%).
  • The Heat don’t have to worry about Nikola Jovic going anywhere. He’s still got two years left on his rookie scale contract and emerged as the starting power forward late in the season. Jovic might be the team’s most intriguing player as well as the Heat’s best bargaining chip, Chiang writes. “He’s 20. So I always do need to remind myself of that,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I hold him to an incredibly high standard because our standards are not going to change. Our expectations are always going to be championship-level expectations. Yes, I’m expecting him to rise to that.”
  • Gary Harris will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel examines what the future might hold for the veteran shooting guard. Harris has been the Magic‘s top 3-point threat at times, Beede notes, but he’s also missed chunks of time with injuries and the team may look for an upgrade at that spot.
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