Here’s more from the Southeast Division:
- Gary Neal, whom the Wizards signed to a one-year deal in July, has filled the role of capable bench scorer, which is what Washington hoped for in inking the veteran point guard, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post writes. Neal’s contract, which is worth $2.1MM, fit into both the Wizards’ short-term plans and long-term flexibility, Castillo adds. The move has paid off with Neal averaging 10.6 points per game.
- After being traded to the Hornets from the Blazers, Nicolas Batum is playing the best basketball of his career, Jimmy Toscano of CSNNE.com details. Batum’s all-around game has been so strong this season, Celtics coach Brad Stevens thinks the small forward has a good shot to make the All-Star team, as Toscano adds.
- Speaking of Batum, taking chances on him, Jeremy Lamb and Spencer Hawes — who were each at uncertain points of their respective careers — in trades during the summer has made the Hornets dramatically better offensively, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer explains. In obtaining the players, the Hornets added size and versatility, Bonnell adds. “We made a concerted effort to improve offensively, improve our versatility and find more skilled players,” Hornets GM Rich Cho said. “I knew Nic from [working in] Portland; we knew Spencer had tremendous basketball IQ and could shoot the ball and spread the floor. Jeremy was someone we pursued for a long time. We liked him in college and saw him play a lot of games in the NBA and the D-League.”