Eastern Notes: Porzingis, Tatum, LaVine, Langdon

Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis continues to show good progress this weekend as he rehabs a right calf strain, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps reports.

Porzingis has been sidelined since Boston’s opening-round series against Miami, when he sustained the injury during Game 4. He was putting up shots and doing some drills during Friday’s practice session. It got even better on Saturday, as coach Joe Mazzulla stated that Porzingis  “did everything the team did” in that day’s practice, Kyle Hightower of The Associated Press reports.

Earlier in the week, Porzingis posted a tweet on social media. Translated by a Latvian journalist and relayed by The Athletic’s Jared Weiss, the tweet read, “Thank you to everyone who is supporting and cheering me on all season long. Very soon I will be back and ready to play. See you in the Finals and then in Arena (Riga) with our guys.”

The last part of the post refers to Porzingis’ participation with the Latvian national team in this summer’s Olympic qualifying tournament.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Celtics forward Jayson Tatum views a second appearance in the Finals in three years as a chance for redemption, Bontemps writes in a separate story. “It’s a lot that myself, and we, can learn from that experience being in the Finals, and this time, this go-around is a lot different,” Tatum said. “Obviously, we’ve been there before, we came up short. And a great opportunity to make it to the Finals again. You don’t always get a second chance, so really just looking at it as a second chance and trying to simplify things as much as we can. It’s another series that we’ve got to win.” Playing through a wrist injury in the 2022 Finals, Tatum averaged 21.5 points but shot 31.5% from 2-point range.
  • The asking price for Bulls wing  Zach LaVine has dropped significantly, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. LaVine is coming off another injury-marred season and there’s a sense from both sides that a change of scenery may be LaVine’s best option. Previously, the Bulls were seeking All-Star level talent, first-round picks or both for LaVine, but that’s no longer the case.
  • Executives from around the league have endorsed the hiring of Trajan Langdon as Pistons president of basketball operations, according to Omari Sankofa of the Detroit Free Press. Count Nets GM Sean Marks, Langdon’s former boss, among them. “You don’t get to have the career he had on the basketball court without being very competitive and diligent, and that’s something in this organization and this business — you have to be competitive, whether you want to be a star in your analytics or your star at your scouting department or a star at player development,” Marks said. “You want to be the best there is and it should irk you when somebody else out there is showing promise or beats you to the punch. That competitive fire is instilled in Trajan and definitely separates him from the lot.”
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