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Southeast Notes: Beal, Wittman, Bazemore, Zeller

Bradley Beal seems certain to return to the Wizards next season, but coach Randy Wittman’s future is in doubt, J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic said on an interview this morning with SiriusXM NBA Radio (h/t Kurt Helin of NBC Sports.com.) Michael said Washington plans to match any offers for Beal, who will be a restricted free agent after failing to reach an extension agreement with the team in November (Twitter link). However, Wittman’s job is in jeopardy unless the 30-31 Wizards make a significant improvement by the end of the season (Twitter link). Michael says Wittman was forced to change his system to the floor-spacing approach that Washington currently uses. (Twitter link). He has a 167-189 record in nearly five full seasons as the team’s head coach.

There’s more news from the Southeast Division:

  • Soon-to-be free agent Al Horford established a winning tradition in Atlanta, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Hawks made the playoffs in eight straight seasons after drafting Horford third overall in 2007, and they can stretch that streak to nine with a decent finish. Horford has stayed silent on the topic of free agency, trying to keep it from being a distraction, but Vivlamore notes that Atlanta is in position to make the best offer: five years at about $146MM.
  • Horford will be the Hawks‘ free agent priority this summer, but they would like to keep Kent Bazemore as well, according to Danny Leroux of The Sporting News. Both will be unrestricted, and Atlanta would like to avoid losing talented wing players two years in a row. DeMarre Carroll left the Hawks last summer to sign with Toronto. Atlanta has Early Bird rights on Bazemore, meaning it can only exceed the salary cap to keep him if his contract starts at less than about $6MM annually. Any additional salary for next season would have to come out of cap room.
  • The Hornets may have benefited from a mid-season knee injury to Al Jefferson, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Jefferson, who is headed toward free agency this summer, has missed a significant part of this season with calf and knee problems, but his absence showed that Cody Zeller could handle the rigors of being a starting center.

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