Southeast Notes: Ball, Bridges, Avdija, Magic

The Hornets haven’t provided an update on LaMelo Ball‘s ankle injury or given any indication of a timetable for his return, but it sounds like his teammates are preparing to be without him for an extended stretch, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

Ball had to be assisted to the locker room after hurting the ankle Sunday in Orlando. He has been ruled out for Thursday’s game at Brooklyn, but no official details have been given beyond that. Ball wore a walking boot and used a crutch during Wednesday’s practice, according to Boone.

“Yeah it’s tough, no matter how you cut it, it’s tough,” Mark Williams said. “But at the same time that’s what the league is. You’ve got to be able to adjust. You’ve got to be able to cooperate well with different lineups and you’ve just got to find a way. But of course it’s tough. It’s tough not having your guys out there. But guys know they’ve got to step up and you’ve got to figure it out.”

A report Tuesday indicated that Ball avoided an ankle fracture, but he’s still expected to miss significant time. Hornets coach Steve Clifford plans to handle the absence the same way he did when Ball had surgery on the ankle in March, keeping the talented guard close to the team and including him in discussions of game strategy.

“He’ll be at shootaround and he’s just got to continue,” Clifford said. “He’ll do the same stuff that he did last year, the same stuff that he did with his rehab before.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Despite his legal issues, there’s a good chance Miles Bridges will have a long-term future with the Hornets, Boone adds in a mailbag column. Bridges, who’s averaging 19.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists since returning from his 10-game suspension, accepted the team’s $7.9MM qualifying offer and will be an unrestricted free agent in July.
  • Wizards forward Deni Avdija has become more consistent after being a hot-and-cold shooter through his first three NBA seasons, notes Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports. Avdija is third on the team in scoring at 12.1 PPG while shooting a career-high 51.9% from the floor and 39.6% from three-point range. The 22-year-old is solidified as part of the future in Washington after signing a four-year extension prior to the season.
  • The Magic had several chances to advance to the final eight in the in-season tournament, but nothing went their way Tuesday night, per Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando could have won East Group C with a Toronto victory over Brooklyn or a Boston win over Chicago by fewer than 22 points. The Magic also had a chance at a wild card if Miami had won at Milwaukee or New York had beaten Charlotte by fewer than four points. Orlando wound up getting eliminated despite a 3-1 record and a +22 point differential.
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