Hornets coach Steve Clifford‘s new contract extension could enhance the team’s chance of re-signing swingman Nicolas Batum, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer notes (Twitter links). “He trusts me. He believes in me. So that could be a big factor,” Batum said when discussing his upcoming free agent decision. Batum was acquired from Portland this past summer in exchange for Noah Vonleh and Gerald Henderson.
Here’s more from the East:
- The first three years of Clifford’s extension are fully guaranteed, with the final season in 2019/20 a team option, Bonnell tweets.
- The Cavaliers held a players-only meeting after their Wednesday night loss to the Raptors, and LeBron James and James Jones both chastised the squad for its inconsistent play and effort, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com writes. “It’s all mindset,” James said after the game. “It comes from within. I’ve always had it; my upbringing had me like that. It’s either you got it or you don’t.” LeBron also noted that the Eastern Conference, which has been much-maligned for being mediocre the past few seasons, is greatly improved this year, McMenamin relays. “There’s always been a lot of shade thrown at our conference the last few years, so it’s great to see that our side is definitely picking it up and playing at a high level,” James said.
- Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis is winning over the team’s fans, but he still hasn’t forgotten that his draft selection was met with boos when first announced, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. “It still sits inside of you a bit,’’ Porzingis said of the boos. “It’s not a good feeling when you get booed. But I don’t want to be good because somebody booed me. I want to be great player because that’s the way I am. It definitely gave me extra motivation.’’