The Hawks‘ patience with Tim Hardaway Jr. is beginning to pay off, with the player finally rounding into shape after a wrist injury he suffered last season derailed his offseason program, David Aldridge of NBA.com writes. The swingman’s progress is due to the team being more concerned about getting him healthy than getting him on the court early in order to justify sacrificing a 2015 first-rounder in order to acquire him, Aldridge adds. Hardaway admitted it was difficult for him when told he wasn’t going to begin the season in the rotation, but coach/executive Mike Budenholzer‘s willingness to communicate assuaged any doubts he may have had, the scribe relays.
“I knew what was at stake,” Hardaway said. “I know what coach wanted me to do. When the coaches are able to talk to the players one on one, it makes life a lot easier, just to know what they want out of that player. It was great to have coach Bud just talk to me one on one, consistently, and not have me worry about it. He hears the positives I’m doing. And that helped me out tremendously.”
Here’s more out of the Southeast Division:
- The Heat are hoping the addition of Joe Johnson and their newfound offensive versatility will allow them to be a factor in the playoffs, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes. “I think we’re an unpredictable team as far as who’s going to score the basketball,” Johnson said. “We’re not predictable in who’s going to have a big night. We’ve got a lot of guys that are very versatile, who make plays offensively and defensively. So I think it takes pressure off of everybody.” Miami has a 6-2 mark since signing Johnson, who agreed to a buyout with the Nets in order to join a playoff contender, Winderman notes.
- The Magic are a long shot to make the playoffs this season, with coach Scott Skiles pointing to the team’s lack of consistency throughout the campaign as a major contributing factor to its woes, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel relays. “My ego would be crazy big if I thought it was having an effect right now,” Skiles said regarding his rallying cry for the team to make a postseason push. “We just came out and laid an egg. The rallying cry’s been the rallying cry. But you’re not eliminated ’til you’re mathematically eliminated. That’s just the way it goes. But the fact that we haven’t been able to consistently do the things that we need to do is not a good sign. But at any point we could do them. We just haven’t gotten it done.” Orlando is currently 4.5 games behind Chicago for the eighth and final playoff slot in the East.