The Hawks and Wizards are making it tough on more ballyhooed Eastern Conference teams like the Cavs and Bulls to play catch-up. Both Atlanta and Washington have won eight of their last 10 and are within two games of the Raptors for the top spot in the conference. Here’s the latest from around the Southeast:
- Kent Bazemore praised the job embattled GM Danny Ferry did constructing the team, as the Hawks shooting guard tells Raul Barrigon of HoopsHype. Ferry remains on indefinite leave of absence after making racially charged remarks this summer. “We don’t really know what was going on there,” Bazemore said. “He’s still watching over us from a distance. He still gets the bulk of the credit for turning around the Hawks organization. We kind of miss him. Coach [Mike] Budenholzer has done a great job filling in, and also [Hawks CEO] Mr. Steve Koonin. The sun is shining bright even on rainy days in the Hawks organization.”
- Trevor Ariza spurned the Wizards‘ efforts to re-sign him this past summer, but thanks to the addition of Paul Pierce, the surprising play of camp invitee Rasual Butler and improvement from Otto Porter, the Wizards need not have worried, writes Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post.
- P.J. Hairston‘s play in the D-League last season gives him an edge that other rookies lack, Hornets coach Steve Clifford said, as Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes amid a look at the team’s decision to send Noah Vonleh, this year’s No. 9 overall pick, on D-League assignment. Hairston, the No. 26 pick, spent much of last season in the D-League after the University of North Carolina cut him loose.
- The Hawks have recalled Mike Muscala from the D-League, the team announced. The big man posted 15 points and seven rebounds Sunday while on his one-day sojourn to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, which was his third D-League assignment of the season.