Southeast Notes: Gortat, Howard, Magic, Walker

Wizards center Marcin Gortat has apologized for comments he made about the team’s bench players after Saturday’s loss to the Bulls. Asked about the reserve unit, Gortat said, “I think right now as far as I know I think we’ve got one of the worst bench in the league right now.” (Twitter link). Later in the night, Gortat tweeted, “Apologize for my frustration” next to a crying emoji. Washington’s bench was depleted Saturday because John Wall and Bradley Beal both missed the game, forcing Tomas Satoransky and Sheldon McClellan to start in their place. Still, it’s not the first time a Wizards star has taken a shot at the team’s reserves. Beal expressed similar frustrations last week.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • New Hawks center Dwight Howard says he already has a “great connection” with coach Mike Budenholzer, relays Chris Vivlamore of The Journal Constitution. Howard, who signed a three-year, $70.5MM deal to return to his hometown this summer, is averaging 15.2 points and 12.4 rebounds through the first nine games. “I love having him as a coach,” Howard said. “From the first time I met him until now, we’ve had a great connection. We want to continue that. I love how he holds me accountable every single day to be the guy for the team to lead them in the right direction. When I’m not doing the right things, he is on me. When I am doing the right things, he pushes me to do more. It’s just a great feeling.”
  • Several key personnel moves and a coaching change haven’t produced the results the Magic were looking for, writes Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando is off to a 3-6 start after trading for Serge Ibaka, signing Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Green and D.J. Augustin and bringing in Frank Vogel as coach. “Right now we shouldn’t be talking about chemistry because we’ve had enough time to figure that out,” Biyombo said. “Now it’s just about doing, getting out there and getting it down. … We’re taking some plays off, we’re playing some plays that we feel like, and this is a challenge for us.”
  • The steadily improving Kemba Walker has become one of the best point guards in the East, contends Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Walker may not make the All-Star team because the competition is so strong, but he has become the Hornets‘ best player, averaging 25.9 points and 5.6 assists per game. Walker is in the second season of a four-year, $48MM extension that he agreed to in 2014.

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