Southeast Notes: Pierce, Heat, Hornets

The Wizards are getting exactly what they hoped for from Paul Pierce when they signed him last summer, writes Jabari Davis of Basketball Insiders. Pierce helped Washington claim a 3-0 series lead over Toronto with an 11-point fourth quarter in Friday’s Game 3. Davis says Pierce has also brought confidence and professionalism to the Wizards’ locker room. “[Pierce is] not scared of the moment,” said Wizards coach Randy Wittman. “He’s proved he can [still] play.” Washington signed Pierce in July after free agent Trevor Ariza left for Houston.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Pierce understands that the clock is ticking on his NBA career, so he’s enjoying every experience while he can, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of Pierce has a two-year deal with the Wizards, but can opt out this summer.  “I know I see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “So that appreciation goes up. … At this point in my career, I’m savoring these moments because I don’t know how many more of these moments I am going to have.”
  • Although the Heat are likely to have a top 10 pick, team president Pat Riley seems more focused on free agency than the draft, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. “The very, very best teams in this league are playing developed players, who have had three or four years, or five or 10 years of experience,” Riley noted.
  • The Hornets are making preparations for the dramatic rise in the salary cap that is expected next summer, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. The cap is expected to jump from around $67MM per team to about $90MM, and while that’s generally positive, it raises concerns about competitive imbalance. “There’s going to be a market for a lot of guys,” said Hornets vice chairman Curtis Polk, “and you’re going to have to be selective about who fits with what your team’s culture is as well as how the team is going to play offensively and defensively.”

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