Southeast Notes: Magic, Whiteside, Jefferson

Better late than never. Over the weekend, Shaquille O’Neal expressed regret about the way he left the Magic nearly two decades ago. “We won games and then I made a business decision,” O’Neal said, according to Kyle Hightower of The Associated Press. “It’s never personal. The [team owner Rich] DeVos family knows that. And I accomplished [a championship] somewhere else. It’s not like I didn’t think they weren’t going to be upset or anything. But it’s business. It was all business. Do I regret it? I never fully answer it. I regret it sometimes. Is this where I started and should have stayed? I actually wish they made it a law that whoever drafts you, you gotta stay there your whole career.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division..

  • The Heat are concerned that Hassan Whiteside could miss significant time thanks to a hand injury, Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald writes.  The big man split his right hand between his forefinger and ring finger during the Heat’s game against the Bucks on Tuesday and his injury required 10 stitches. There is no timetable for Whiteside’s return, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the team’s center likely would be back for the playoffs.
  • Signing Al Jefferson in the summer of 2013 has been a big reason for the Hornets‘ turn toward credibility, Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders writes. In fact, helping them shed their old losing image is part of what motivated him to join Charlotte in the first place. “That’s most definitely the reason why I came here,” Jefferson said. “I saw the young talent that this team had with Kemba Walker and [Michael Kidd-Gilchrist] and Bismack Biyombo, but the main reason I came here was the coach. When Steve Clifford got the job, just sitting down talking to him on my visit, I knew that he was coming here to turn things around. I just wanted to be a part of that.
  • The Heat‘s Henry Walker (who formerly went by the name Bill Walker), after years of battling adversity, has earned the confidence of coach Erik Spoelstra, who has started him seven times and given him regular minutes at both forward positions, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes in a profile of the player. Miami signed Walker to two 10-day contracts, and then eventually to a longer deal which was a two-year, minimum salary arrangement, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links). He is averaging 7.9 points and 3.6 assists per game.

Will Joseph contributed to this post.

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