Three Southeast Division teams would make the playoffs if they started today, and a fourth, the Hornets, are but two games out of the final postseason spot. The fifth-place Magic are within hailing distance at four and a half games out, but key decision-makers in Orlando appear to be getting antsy, as we detail amid the latest from the Southeast:
- Magic officials feel as though the team has lost its way over the past few weeks, and while they believe that the inexperience of the roster is responsible for the team’s struggles, they’re looking deeper to find the genesis of the problems, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. Speculation surrounds the job security of Jacque Vaughn, but Vaughn says he’s not concerned and many players tell Robbins that the coach is not to blame. Vaughn’s contract runs through 2015/16 after the team picked up his option this past offseason.
- Hassan Whiteside had a one-day stint with the Grizzlies in November but says that no one else wanted him when the Heat picked him up shortly thereafter, observes Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald. “It’s different because I got a coach who will play me, so I get to play,” Whiteside said. “You can’t get on the court without a contract. I called the Clippers for a workout, they said no. I called every team for a workout, they said no, except the Heat. The Heat gave me a chance and, I mean, it’s only right for me to give 110% effort every time.” Whiteside’s 23-point, 16-rebound performance Sunday seemed like a turning point for him and the Heat, as Goodman and Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examine.
- The Hawks have recalled Adreian Payne from the D-League, the team announced via press release. The 15th overall pick of the 2014 draft had been on his fourth assignment of the season since December 30th with the D-League affiliate of the Spurs, who took him in under the new rules in place for the Hawks and the 12 other NBA teams who share a D-League affiliate.