Michael Carter-Williams is on his fifth team since becoming the No. 11 overall pick out of Syracuse back in 2013. His latest club, the Magic, needed point guard help and he needed an opportunity. On Friday, a 10-day contract was printed and signed.
“I don’t know how many more chances I’m going to get,” Carter-Williams tells Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “I play hard every possession. I try to make the right play all the time and just have fun. I love the game. I love playing at the highest level. I believe I still have got a long career to go.”
Coach Steve Clifford is familiar with Carter-Williams from the pair’s time with the Hornets. Clifford calls the lanky guard “one of the best perimeter defenders” he’s ever coached.
“He’s a difference-maker at the defensive end of the floor, and he’s a point guard who’s going to get us playing up and down the floor faster,” Clifford added.
As Robbins explains, the backup point guard position has been a weakness for Orlando. Jerian Grant couldn’t hold down the spot and while Isaiah Briscoe emerged, he injured his knee, leaving Grant as the only option to lead the reserves.
Briscoe is one of several players who are unlikely to see the court again this season. Markelle Fultz, Timofey Mozgov, and Mohamed Bamba, who recently spoke with Hoops Rumors about learning from the sideline, are all likely out for the rest of the year. The league recently granted the Magic a hardship exception to sign an additional player, meaning they didn’t have to waive one of their 15 players to add MCW.
The 2013/14 Rookie-of-the-Year signed his deal on March 15 and he’s eligible to sign another 10-day deal once his contract expires on Sunday night.
Teams can only sign players to two 10-day deals in a given season, as our glossary entry details. Assuming Orlando inks MCW to a second 10-day pact, there would only be three games left in the regular season when it expires, at which time the Magic would be forced to either sign him for the remainder of the season (and postseason) or let him go. Orlando enters the day one game back of the Heat for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Carter-Williams saw 16 minutes in his debut for the Magic, backing up starting point guard D.J. Augustin. His play impressed teammates.
“What I really like is his motor,” Evan Fournier said. “He’s very active. He really, really wants to compete.”
Prior to the season, MCW thought Houston would be the team he’d be helping to achieve playoff goals. The Rockets had other plans, sending him to the Bulls in a cost-saving deal in early January. Chicago waived the point guard before his contract for the season would have become fully guaranteed. The path to his latest opportunity hasn’t been linear, though the road taken has taught him how to be resilient. It’s been “tough,” Carter-Williams said.
“I think it’s helped me grow, though, a lot,” MCW said. “It helps me deal with different situations. … It just helps me grow as a human. I’ve been through a lot of things in this league and I know I’m resilient and I know I’m never going to give up and quit. So I take that and I bring it to the court.”