Southeast Notes: Barton, Gafford, Gibson, Barnes, Heat

Wizards guard Will Barton expressed excitement about playing with his new teammates next season, including 23-year-old center Daniel Gafford, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. Barton and Monte Morris were recently traded to Washington after playing with Denver last season.

“Big Gaff, I want to get out there with him, man,” Barton said. “I’m a guy that likes to get to the rim and when I get to the rim, if I can’t score it myself, I want to put that lob up there and I know he’s a guy who can go get it. So, he’s definitely a guy I’m looking forward to playing with.”

Barton also mentioned Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma, who combined to score 40.3 points per game last season. Gafford will likely come off the bench behind Kristaps Porzingis in 2022/23, but it’s possible head coach Wes Unseld Jr. will test bigger lineups featuring both players at some point.

Here are some other notes from the Southeast Division:

  • New Wizards big man Taj Gibson plans to be a mentor and help the team’s younger players this year, Ava Wallace of the Washington Post writes. Gibson recently joined the club after playing with New York for the past three seasons. He holds 13 years of NBA experience, which includes several playoff runs with the Bulls earlier in his career.
  • In his latest “Ask Ira” mailbag, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines whether the Heat should consider trading for Harrison Barnes. Barnes averaged 16.4 points per game for the Kings last season, shooting 39% from three-point range. Aside from Miami needing a power forward, Barnes would also fit in the team’s switch-heavy defensive scheme.
  • In a separate story for the Sun Sentinel, Winderman explores whether the Heat truly need a power forward. The short answer is yes. Miami lost P.J. Tucker to Philadelphia this month and hasn’t re-signed Markieff Morris, leaving a gaping hole in the starting lineup. The team did re-sign undersized forward Caleb Martin and has a budding two-way player in Haywood Highsmith, but starting Jimmy Butler at the four would likely be difficult against bigger teams in the East such as Boston, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. Assuming Tyler Herro and Max Strus start, the team would have to commit to playing in transition and likely blitz more defensively.
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