Southeast Notes: Jefferson, Hardaway Jr., Cho

Tim Hardaway Jr. is finally starting to reward the Hawks for last June’s draft night trade that brought the former Knicks shooting guard to Atlanta, KL Chouinard of writes. The swingman saw more D-League action than NBA minutes earlier in the season as he struggled to recover from a wrist injury he suffered last March, Chouinard notes. “I do think he had an injury that was a bit understated,” coach/executive Mike Budenholzer said. “His conditioning and his strength coming off the summer probably wasn’t where we would like it to be, and ultimately defense is where that stuff tends to come out.

Budenholzer said Hardaway also needed to improve his dedication to playing defense prior to becoming a regular member of the team’s rotation, the scribe relays. “He really wasn’t going to be getting the opportunities that he wanted, that every player craves,” Budenholzer said, “if he wasn’t better and if we didn’t feel like he was committed to that end of the court the way he is right now. What he is doing on that end of the court – his activity and ability to get through screens and shift and rebound – I’m very pleased with his progress.”

Here’s more from out of the Southeast:

  • The Hornets went into this past summer with the goal of diversifying their offensive attack and adding players who could stretch the floor with their outside shooting, David Aldridge of writes. “In the offseason, we made a concerted effort to try and improve a lot at the offensive end — in particular, our shooting — as well as improve our overall skill level,” GM Rich Cho said. “And when we tried to do that, we tried to find some guys with some versatility. We brought in Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lamb, Jeremy Lin, Frank Kaminsky — they can all play more than one position. And we think they complement Cody Zeller and Mike [Michael Kidd-Gilchrist], who can also play more than one position.
  • The moves to change up the team’s offensive attack were made with center Al Jefferson mind, as defenses were focused on shutting down the big man’s game in the post, the scribe notes in the same piece. Jefferson, who will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, doesn’t fit the mold of today’s prototypical NBA center, but he isn’t worried about becoming obsolete, Aldridge relays. “It’s good to have that experience and just watch the league change before your eyes,” Jefferson said. “And I really believe it’s going to change back. It’s just like clothes. Clothes always come back in style. I really believe the league is going to get back big again. I might be long gone. I might be watching in my La-Z-Boy, but I really believe it’s going to go back big again, like when I first got in the league. It’s a cycle. It’s going to take one team to go big and do it. It’s a copycat league. Watch me. You’re going to remember when you talked to me today. It might be 10 years, but you’re going to remember, ‘He said it!’

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