Southeast Notes: Beal, Okpala, Hornets, Fournier

Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal mentioned that team GM Tommy Sheppard presents potential club transactions to him ahead of time, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. At 15-26, the Wizards are currently 3.5 games behind the tenth-seeded Pacers for a play-in berth. Washington may have to determine whether to be in buyer or seller mode as the trade deadline looms this week.

“Whenever he brings something to the table, he always asks me or incorporates me, so I appreciate that,” Beal said of Sheppard. Beal, 27, is averaging a career-best 32.1 PPG, the top scoring mark in the NBA, across 38 contests for the Wizards.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Second-year Heat power forward KZ Okpala has entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, according to Tim Reynolds of ESPN (via Twitter). Miami big man Udonis Haslem remains absent, also due to the league’s coronavirus protocols, per the Heat (Twitter link). Okpala and Haslem had previously been sidelined as a result of COVID-19 protocols in January.
  • The Hornets are boosting their arena fan capacity from 3,000 fans (15% capacity in Charlotte’s home arena, the Spectrum Center) per game to 5,000 fans (25% arena capacity) per game, according to an official team press release. No COVID-19 pre-game testing or vaccine requirements have been announced, though coronavirus protocols including social distancing and face masks, will be enforced.
  • Despite being the frequent subject of trade chatter, with teams like several interested teams circling, Magic guard Evan Fournier, an unrestricted free agent this summer, is striving to not let talks affect his on-court play, according to Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel“Sometimes like a deal might happen and then not at the last minute and you will never know it,” Fournier said. “It’s just the nature of this business, so there’s really no reason for me [to worry].” The list of interested teams continues to grow, as apparently the Nuggets have asked about Fournier’s availability as well, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
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