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Orlando Magic

Magic Are Ready To Trade For Scorers

Ranked 29th in points per possession, the Magic will turn to the trade market for help on offense, reports Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel.

Robbins cites a league source with knowledge of the situation, but it’s obvious to anyone who has watched the Magic that they need to find some scoring. The offseason trade for Serge Ibaka and the signing of Bismack Biyombo have helped Orlando build the NBA’s third best defense in points per possession, but a lack of offense has limited the Magic in a 9-12 start.

Robbins isn’t sure who Orlando’s front office might want to part with, but he lists four players with expiring contracts, which are usually attractive to teams hoping to cut salary. They are Ibaka, Jeff Green, Jodie Meeks and C.J. Wilcox. In addition, C.J. Watson has just a $1MM guarantee on his 2017/18 contract.

The unofficial start of the trading season is December 15th, when most of the offseason free agent signees are eligible to be dealt.

Meeks Set To Make Season Debut

  • Offseason trade acquisition, Jodie Meeks, is set to make his season debut for the Magic this evening, the team announced. The 29-year-old underwent foot surgery back in July after missing all but three games in 2015/16, and will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Kings Notes: Cousins, Casspi, Gay, Stauskas

Kings coach Dave Joerger has gone back to a bigger starting lineup in an effort to improve the team’s defense, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Kosta Koufos is back with the starters, being used at center with DeMarcus Cousins at power forward. Joerger briefly tried a small-ball starting lineup, but wasn’t satisfied with the results. “I’m trying to protect DeMarcus a little bit by letting Kosta take the hits on a bigger guy like [Washington Wizards center Marcin] Gortat,” Joerger said. “And defensively more pick-and-rolls and try to save [Cousins’] legs for the end.” 

There’s more news out of Sacramento:

  • Cousins continues to put up incredible numbers, averaging 28.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per night, but the Kings need more production from their complementary players, writes James Ham of CSNBayArea“We’ve just got to be better,” Omri Casspi said after Monday’s overtime loss at Washington. “Our bench guys and our role players have to do a better job of helping DeMarcus. It feels like he’s doing anything he can to win the game for us. We’ve just got to be better.”
  • Rudy Gay confirmed that he has left Octagon Basketball, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. Gay, who has suggested that he won’t be re-signing with Sacramento after he becomes a free agent next summer, may be joining Roc Nation, an agency headed by rapper Jay Z (Twitter link). However, he told Jones that the change isn’t related to his impending free agency (Twitter link).
  • Nik Stauskas says it doesn’t bother him to hear that the Kings feel like they should have drafted someone else in 2014, Jones posts on Facebook. Owner Vivek Ranadive recently told Amick that he preferred Magic guard Elfrid Payton over Stauskas as the No. 8 pick. “Like I said, they did me a favor sending me here to Philadelphia,” Stauskas replied. “I’ve had a really good opportunity to play even though I hadn’t been performing though my first year with the Sixers. I’m thankful that the organization gave me an opportunity, they drafted me, but if they felt like the made a mistake by drafting me then they felt like they made a mistake. I can’t do anything about it now.”

Rob Hennigan On Hot Seat In Orlando?

Magic GM Rob Hennigan could be out of a job if Orlando can’t turn its season around, writes Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel.

Hennigan had hoped to point the team on a path toward the playoffs with two controversial offseason moves. First came a draft-night trade with the Thunder that brought veteran power forward Serge Ibaka to Orlando in exchange for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to 11th pick Domantas Sabonis. Next, Hennigan signed Raptors backup center Bismack Biyombo to a $72MM contract over four years.

The moves were designed to improve the Magic’s defense, but the team has encountered so much trouble scoring that it hasn’t mattered. New coach Frank Vogel made three lineup changes this week in an effort to find more offense, but so far all that has done is anger center Nikola Vucevic, who was sent to the bench in favor of Biyombo.

Hennigan has maneuvered himself into a difficult situation, Schmitz contends. After four straight seasons of missing the playoffs, the team can’t tank without fear of alienating its fan base, and it hasn’t been successful enough to land star players through free agency. All that’s left, the writer suggests, is another dramatic trade in which Hennigan sacrifices some of his newly acquired defense to add more offense.

Also, Hennigan’s draft record has been spotty. Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon, two first-round picks from 2014, have both been removed from the starting lineup, and 2015 first-rounder Mario Hezonja plays just 14 minutes per night. The GM’s best pick was Oladipo in 2013, but he is now in Oklahoma City.

With Orlando off to a 6-11 start through a little more than a month of the season, the clock is rapidly ticking on Hennigan. If he can’t turn the Magic into a playoff team, it may cost him his job.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 11/28/16

Here are Monday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

11:00pm:

  • The Nets have assigned forward Anthony Bennett to their Long Island affiliate, the team announced in a press release. He has played 10 games for Brooklyn, averaging 5.3 points and 2.6 rebounds per night.

2:32pm:

  • The Warriors have recalled rookie center Damian Jones from the D-League, the team announced today in a press release. It’s not clear if Jones is ready to make his NBA debut quite yet, or if he’s just being called up to practice with Golden State for now.
  • A day after he was on the receiving end of an emphatic dunk by Wayne Selden, forward Rakeem Christmas has been recalled by the Pacers, according to a team release. Christmas contributed 18 points and seven boards to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants’ win on Sunday.
  • The Magic have assigned rookie center Stephen Zimmerman to the Erie BayHawks, the team announced today (via Twitter). A second-round pick in June, Zimmerman has only appeared in two regular season games so far for Orlando.
  • Chris McCullough continues to be shuttled back and forth between the Brooklyn Nets and the Long Island Nets. The team announced today in a press release that he has been sent back to the D-League, where he has appeared in four games so far for Long Island, averaging 17.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG.

Eastern Notes: Vucevic, Mirotic, Canaan, Pistons

Magic coach Frank Vogel shook up the starting lineup tonight with D.J. Augustin, Bismack Biyombo and Aaron Gordon replacing Elfrid Payton, Nikola Vucevic and Jeff Green, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. The change was prompted by a three-game losing streak, but not much improved with an eight-point loss to the Bucks.

Vucevic promised to keep a professional attitude about the move, but he clearly isn’t endorsing it. “I spoke to Frank about it last night, and obviously I wasn’t happy with the decision they made,” the sixth-year center said to Zach Oliver of OPP Magic Blog. “I didn’t think there was a reason for me to go to the bench, but it’s coach’s decision. All I can do is control what I can control, which is when I’m on the court play to the best of my ability and help the team win. Stay professional and whatever is going on, I’ll keep giving my best and give them my full effort.”

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic hopes to stay in the NBA rather than return to Europe after his contract expires at the end of this season, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. The former Real Madrid star is wrapping up a three-year, $16.6MM deal. He calls Chicago “a great city” and says he wants to continue to take on the challenges that the NBA presents. “I think [the NBA] is the best place I can grow as a player,” Mirotic said. “I was very comfortable in Madrid. … That was a perfect place to stay and be in a comfort zone, to sign another five years. But that’s not who I am. I like the challenges. … And I came here to prove that I’m ready.”
  • A season and a half in Philadelphia has helped Bulls guard Isaiah Canaan appreciate the chance to be on a winning team, writes Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly. Canaan signed with Chicago over the summer after the Sixers declined to submit a qualifying offer. “I say it was a blessing for the opportunity, just to prove I can help a team out and show what I can bring,” Canaan said. “It was a humbling experience for me just to have to go through something like that and learn not to take anything for granted.”
  • A June meeting at a Tigers game between Pistons owner Tom Gores and the Ilitch family, which owns the Red Wings, led to the Pistons’ move downtown next season, relays Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.

Jeff Green Believes Magic Need To Fix Issues

Happy Thanksgiving, NBA fans! If you’re worried about overeating on this day of thanks, you’re not alone. Eating too much on Thanksgiving is a real issue in the NBA, as Josh Robbins of NBA.com details. “Every year, I warn our team against overeating and overdrinking, because you still have to have the mindset [of], ‘Yeah, it’s the holidays, but we have a game tomorrow,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said.

  • Jeff Green, whom Orlando signed to a one-year. $15MM contract during the offseason, believes the Magic need to correct their issues now and start playing better if they want to be in the playoff picture, Robbins relays in the same piece. “It’s got to come to a point where we’ve got to fix it now in order for us to be there at the end,” Green said. The 30-year-old hasn’t played especially well this season, as he only has a positive plus-minus in three of the team’s 15 games

Biyombo Paying Dividends: Booker Wanted To Come To Orlando

  • Devin Booker, a breakout star with the Suns during his rookie season, lobbied the Magic to draft him in 2015, relays Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, which held the fifth pick, opted for Mario Hezonja, who averaged 6.1 points and fewer than 18 minutes per game as a rookie. Booker cracked the starting lineup in Phoenix, averaged 13.8 points per night and was a First Team All-Rookie selection. “It was funny,” Booker said. “They had a top-five pick. Obviously, I wasn’t being rated that high. But I’m good friends with [team owners] the DeVoses because we’re both from Grand Rapids, Mich. I was telling them, ‘I need to come to Orlando.’ But I knew it wasn’t going to happen. It was a long shot. I’m happy where I’m at.”
  • Bismack Biyombo has brought the shot-blocking and energy that the Magic expected when they signed him this summer, Robbins writes in a separate piece. Biyombo is averaging 2.6 blocks per 36 minutes to go with 9.0 points and 13.3 rebounds. “To me, it’s about knowing your job and doing your job, really,” Biyombo said. “I don’t do anything out of what I know I can’t do, and I do what I think the team’s gonna need to win a game each and every night.”

Augustin Hoping For Stability

  • Now on his eighth team in six seasons, backup point guard D.J. Augustin is hoping for some stability with the Magic, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. He signed a four-year, $29MM deal over the summer, but understands that isn’t a guarantee he will spend all four seasons in Orlando. “It feels good to know that I’m going to be here for a while, but you never know what can happen in the NBA,” Augustin said. “Even though guys sign long deals, they still get traded. Anything can happen, so I still have that in the back of my mind.”

Meeks Makes Progress Toward Return

  • Magic shooting guard Jodie Meeks participated in full-contract drills Friday for the first time since foot surgery in July, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. “It was the second procedure on the right foot for Meeks, who played just three games for the Pistons last season and was traded to Orlando in June. “It’s just good to be back out there doing some activity,” Meeks said. “I felt pretty good moving, but obviously I’m a little rusty. So it’s going to take some time to get back. I don’t really have a time limit on when I’m going to be back — obviously, as soon as possible, but at the same time get in some better shape.”

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