Southeast Notes: Deng, Stephenson, Borrego

The Southeast Division currently has three teams owning playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Hawks would play a series against the Nets. The Wizards would play the Bulls, who they knocked out of the playoffs last postseason. The Heat would play the Cavs in a series that would give Miami a chance to become the first Eastern Conference team to knock a LeBron James-led team out of the playoffs since the Celtics in 2010.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Luol Deng said he likes playing for Miami and hasn’t thought about whether he will exercise his player option worth slightly more than $10.1MM for next season, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. The Heat have roughly $42.9MM in guaranteed salary on the books for the 2015/16 season, as our salary cap breakdown shows. That figure does not include player options for Deng, Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic as well as a team option for Michael Beasley. If the team retains its starting backcourt, Miami will most likely be over the projected $67.4MM salary cap. If Deng declines his option and departs from Miami, it would leave the Heat with a huge void on the wing and limited resources to replace the 29-year-old.
  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford reiterated that he was the strongest advocate for signing Lance Stephenson last offseason, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports (Twitter links). “Lance is here because of me. I’m the one who wanted Lance,” Clifford said. Stephenson has recorded a DNP-Coach’s Decision in each of Charlotte’s last two games.
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel chronicles coach James Borrego‘s time in the organization and wonders if he could remain the coach of the Magic long-term. Orlando is currently 22-53 on the season, good for fifth place in our Reverse Standings.

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