Eastern Notes: Heat, Bulls, Hornets

The early returns on the Heat‘s investment of $90MM over five years in Goran Dragic are not very good because the point guard and Dwyane Wade have been struggling to work together all season, Israel Gutierrez of ESPN.com details. Dragic’s seeming lack of confidence and reluctance to take open shots are not helping to resolve the issue, Gutierrez adds. This is not a new revelation, but Gutierrez expresses concern because many thought the problem would be behind the Heat by now.

“I like seeing guys go through a struggle to see how they respond, and he responded in a very positive way,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think it was great to see him show some character when the chips are not going your way. You can grind through it and help your team.”

Here’s more out of the Eastern Conference:

  • The addition of coach Fred Hoiberg was supposed to gin up the Bulls offense, but instead it’s been the mainstay of their defense that has the Bulls in third place in the Eastern Conference in spite of some disconcerting signs early this season, observes TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com.
  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford did not dismiss the idea that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who has a dislocated right shoulder, would appear in the playoffs, but added there is no timeline for the small forward to return, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets.
  • Ian Mahinmi, who is in the final year of his contract with the Pacers, has solidified his role as a solid shooting center and veteran locker room presence, Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star writes. 
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