Southeast Notes: Millsap, Heat, Pierce

The Hawks expect to have competition for Paul Millsap‘s services next summer when the player hits free agency, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. But Atlanta intends to try and keep the power forward on their roster, notes Vivlamore. “We want to keep him,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “He is someone who is really important to us. He fits us very well. We’ve communicated that with him on a regular basis.”

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Chris Andersen‘s decision to re-sign with the Heat never depended on what LeBron James ultimately decided to do, Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post writes (Twitter link). Andersen told Lieser that he knew he wanted to return to Miami prior to the free agent signing period beginning.
  • A businessman named Haider Zafar might have directly contributed to LeBron leaving the Heat, Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald writes. Zafar, who allegedly conned Mike Miller, James Jones and Rashard Lewis out of millions in 2013, is expected to plead guilty to multiple wire fraud charges. Goodman details Zafar’s saga, and how the organization’s treatment of Miller in the wake of the fraud, including amnestying him, and refusing to reach a settlement that would return a portion of the swindled funds that went towards purchasing tickets to Heat games, left a lingering bad feeling between James and the Heat organization.
  • Paul Pierce chose the Wizards this offseason in free agency after discussions with then-Wizards assistant coach Sam Cassell and former Washington forward Al Harrington convinced him that it was the right place to continue and possibly finish off his career, Adi Joseph of USA Today writes. “I asked them at first what the guys were like to work with, you know, Bradley Beal and all these guys,” Pierce said. “I asked them about the culture, ‘Are there good guys in the locker room?’ And they kept on saying, ‘You’re really gonna like these guys. You’re really gonna like these guys’.

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