Southeast Notes: Hachimura, Porzingis, Ball, Strus

Wizards forward Rui Hachimura may have raised his trade value with a 30-point performance Saturday night, but he wanted to avoid discussing a potential deal after the game, writes Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. “No comment,” Hachimura told reporters when they asked if he has requested a trade, although he indicated that he’s looking for a comfortable situation, whether that’s in Washington or somewhere else.

“I just want to be somewhere that wants me as a basketball player,” Hachimura said. “And I want to be somewhere that loves my — likes my game, you know? … I just want to be somewhere that trusts, believes in me. Just I can be myself — that’s my goal.”

Wallace confirms a report from The Athletic this week that the Wizards have discussed a potential Hachimura trade with several teams. The 24-year-old became an instant starter after being selected with the ninth pick in the 2019 draft, but injuries and other roadblocks have limited his effectiveness since then. The team didn’t reach a rookie scale extension with Hachimura before the October deadline, so he’s headed for free agency this summer.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Kristaps Porzingis left Saturday’s game with a sprained ankle in the third quarter, but the Wizards are optimistic about his prognosis, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “Sprained ankle. He’ll be evaluated tomorrow,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said after the game. “We’ll see where it is. I don’t think it’s too bad, but fingers crossed.” Porzingis has experienced frequent health issues throughout his career, but he’s been relatively injury-free this season, appearing in 41 of the team’s 46 games.
  • Hornets guard LaMelo Ball is quickly recovering from a sprained ankle he suffered Wednesday, but a right wrist problem may be a bigger concern, per Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Ball banged his wrist during the same game, which raises concerns because he had surgery on his right hand as a rookie. “The wrist had been not hurting, but ever since I broke it, it’s been the same little one (thing),” Ball said. “In Houston, I was fine with it until I hit it again … So, yeah once I get over that little hump I think I’ll be smooth.”
  • Max Strus‘ flexibility has been valuable for the Heat in an injury-filled season, notes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The impending free agent has played 24 games as a starter and 21 off the bench and has seen time at every position except center.
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