Southeast Rumors: Heat, Fournier, Batum, Wizards

Even though they’re facing a large luxury tax bill, the Heat should hold on to Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen, writes Ethan Skolnick of The Miami Herald. He notes that although both players are drawing salaries beyond their expected contribution — $4.3MM for Chalmers and $5MM for Andersen — they have value for a Miami team that will need depth to become a threat in the East. The columnist points to Chalmers’ familiarity with the system, which gives him an advantage over younger guards like Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson, and Andersen’s durability, which will come in handy if new addition Amar’e Stoudemire gets injured or cannot overcome his defensive lapses. Skolnick cautions that the Heat shouldn’t make moves that could be perceived as “skimping” while they’re trying to build a contender.

There’s more news from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic guard Evan Fournier can already feel a difference under new coach Scott Skiles, writes Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel. Even though Orlando is off to an 0-2 start, Fournier said the team’s role has been clearly defined. “I feel like we have an identity right now,” he said. “We are a defensive team and we share the ball offensively.” When asked about the team’s identity last season under coaches Jacques Vaughn and James Borrego, Fournier said, “We didn’t have one. We were basically looking for it throughout the whole season.”
  • The Hornets want their offense to run through Nicolas Batum, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Charlotte traded for Batum in  June with the confidence that he could handle a playmaker’s role. “He comes across as a very quiet player, but he’s one of the most intense, competitive kids we had in our time in Portland,” said Hornets assistant GM Chad Buchanan, who worked with the Trail Blazers while Batum was there. “He internalizes that competitiveness. But he’s very driven to win, very team-first. He has a very high IQ, always knows what everyone on the court has to do and where they’re at. Such a student of the game.”
  • After being ousted from the playoffs last spring, the Wizards identified four strengths and tried to add players to complement them, writes Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. The team was rebuilt around John Wall‘s speed and passing, Bradley Beal‘s shooting, Otto Porter Jr.‘s cutting and Marcin Gortat‘s willingness to run the floor and get to the rim on pick-and-rolls.
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