The Hornets may have permanently damaged their relationship with All-Star guard Kemba Walker, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. When news broke that the franchise was eager to unload their best player in order to clear cap space and initiate a rebuild, the 27-year-old was apparently devastated.
Bonnell argues that Walker has been a world-class representative of the Hornets, a leader on the court and in the community. The scribe also argues that he’s a part of the solution in Charlotte, not the problem, and that it was customarily clumsy for the organization to dangle him for financial relief.
Bonnell cites Charlotte’s fruitless attempt to sign Gordon Hayward away from the Jazz as a restricted free agent in 2014 and the club’s ill-advised decision to sign Lance Stephenson to a three-year, $27MM deal shortly thereafter as other examples of the Hornets being managed clumsily.
There’s more from the Southeast Division:
- The Heat continue to be ravaged by injuries at the two-guard position, the latest one to fall being Tyler Johnson. Now, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes, head coach Erik Spoelstra will have to decide between two-way player Derrick Jones Jr., reserve Wayne Ellington or an out-of-position Josh Richardson.
- Despite the temporary scare, Heat guard Tyler Johnson‘s leg injury wasn’t as bad as initially feared, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes. “I was really worried because initially it felt like my knee popped,” he said. “That’s why when I went down I started grabbing at my knee and that was what was more worrisome than anything else. I’ve never had a bad knee injury so I didn’t know what it felt like. I was just thankful once I got to the back and my adrenaline kind of went down the pain in my knee wasn’t nothing I really ever felt before. My foot was down and it just kind of got tangled up.“
- A fractured bone in Nikola Vucevic‘s hand has kept him out of action since December 23 but the Magic big man is making progress, John Denton of Orlando’s team site writes. “Little by little [the strength is returning] and the best thing is just me using my hand because that will help it. I’m just doing stuff every day. Even video games, will help because I’m using my hand,” Vucevic said.