The Hornets decided in the offseason to emphasize offense at the expense of defense as they made their personnel moves, and Charlotte has indeed taken a step back on the defensive end, as Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer examines. Part of that has to do with the absence of prime defender Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but his return, which he’s promised to make before season’s end, won’t solve all of the club’s defensive problems, Bonnell writes. Nonetheless, the Observer scribe wouldn’t be surprised if the former No. 2 overall pick is playing within a month’s time. See more from the Southeast Division:
- The Magic aren’t entirely sure about keeping Evan Fournier in restricted free agency this summer, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. It’s expected they’ll at least look into other options before recommitting to him, just as with the team’s courtship of Paul Millsap that preceded the Tobias Harris re-signing this past summer, according to Kyler. In any case, the team’s use of Fournier at shooting guard instead of Victor Oladipo doesn’t signal that the franchise has lost faith in the former No. 2 overall pick and instead shows that the team is adjusting the way it’s developing young players as it focuses more on the present, Kyler explains.
- Soon-to-be free agent Hassan Whiteside‘s style of play, personality and general way of going about his business is “not congruent” with the way of the Heat, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com opined on a recent edition of “The Lowe Post” podcast with ESPN colleague Zach Lowe (audio link; transcription via RealGM).
- Wizards draft-and-stash prospect Tomas Satoransky has a deal on a four-year extension with Barcelona of Spain that includes NBA outs, according to international journalist David Pick (Twitter link). He’s put pen to paper, Pick reports, though Javier Maestro of Encestando counters that he hasn’t officially signed it yet (translation via HoopsHype). In any case, Satoransky is in no hurry to come to the NBA, Maestro writes.