Around the Atlantic: Nets honing in on Hollins

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Around the Atlantic: Nets honing in on Hollins

The NBA playoffs may still be in full swing, but that hasn't stopped teams out of the mix from eyeing next year.

According to a report from Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times (via ProBasketballTalk), the Brooklyn Nets have their sights set on Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins. The Nets are in the market for a new coach and Hollins' contract is up at the end of this season.

"Some NBA officials claim the Nets are honing in on Lionel Hollins, Memphis’ coach whose contract will soon expire," Woelfel said. "The Nets’ interest in Hollins is hardly surprising, especially considering the terrific job Hollins has done this season."

Woelfel also writes that the Nets will look at Scott Skiles as a backup option if they aren't able to lure Hollins to Brooklyn.

Shumpert could play in summer league
New York Knicks coaches want guard Iman Shumpert to play in summer league, reports the New York Post's Marc Berman (via ProBasketballTalk).

Shumpert returned to the Knicks midway through this season after suffering an ACL tear in the Knicks' first game of last year's playoffs. He spent most of the season trying to find his footing again before showing signs of his old form during the postseason.

Shumpert averaged 6.8 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in 2012-13. He improved those numbers to 9.3 points and 6.0 rebounds a night in the playoffs.

Colangelo getting new role with Raptors
Bryan Colangelo will be moving on from his role as Toronto general manger into the business side of operations for the franchise, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski (via ProBasketballTalk).

The Raptors are reportedly set to make a big run at Denver Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri this offseason to lead their basketball operations.

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."