Eastern Notes: Beasley, Payton, Harkless

The Nets are two and a half games behind the Celtics for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and Tim Bontemps of the New York Post believes the next four games will decide their season. Brooklyn will play Milwaukee on Friday and then Indiana, Boston and Charlotte. Any loss hurts twice as much as it will elevate the direct competition closer to a playoff berth.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Heat and Michael Beasley have indeed agreed to a rare team option (and not non-guaranteed salary) for next season in their deal, confirms Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
  • Elfrid Payton has improved as the season has progressed and the Magic have found their point guard of the future, opines Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. After recording a triple-double on Wednesday night, Payton seems to be feeling more comfortable leading the team. “I’m just working, putting up shots, getting in the gym, working hard,” Payton said. “I think the confidence has always been there, but I know I’ve got the support of my teammates.”
  • Maurice Harkless has seen more minutes since Orlando fired coach Jacque Vaughn and the team likes how the forward is playing, writes Robbins in a separate piece. “He’s showing that he wants to play,” interim coach James Borrego said. “There’s a confidence about him right now, and he’s got to continue to play with that.” Harkless is under contract through next season, but he is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer.
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