Al-Farouq Aminu

Magic Notes: Coronavirus, Fultz, Aminu, Isaac

The Magic became the first team to report to the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus on Tuesday, but not all of the team’s players were in attendance. Here are a few of the latest updates on the Magic:

  • A player on the Magic – who hasn’t been identified – tested positive for COVID-19 and didn’t accompany the club to Disney, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. According to Nick Friedell of ESPN (Twitter link), president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said the Magic expect the player to rejoin the team once he’s cleared to do so.
  • Point guard Markelle Fultz has a non-coronavirus personal matter to address and has been excused from reporting to the NBA’s campus for now, according to Reynolds (Twitter links). He’s expected to rejoin the club at some point too.
  • Injured forward Al-Farouq Aminu didn’t travel with the team to Disney and is continuing his rehab work at the Magic’s practice facility, tweets Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. It’s not clear whether Aminu still has a chance to return this season.
  • The Magic’s other injured forward, Jonathan Isaac, is with the club at the NBA’s Disney campus, notes Parry (Twitter link). Isaac continues to rehab the knee injury that has sidelined him since the start of January, but remains unlikely to play this summer. He’s at the stage where he can do a little light court stuff, but that’s about it,” Weltman said of Isaac, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Iguodala, Beal, Magic, Hornets

Andre Iguodala turned 36 years old in January, but that didn’t stop him and the Heat from agreeing to a contract extension when he was dealt to Miami at the February trade deadline. Speaking to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, Iguodala said that the new deal, which provides a $15MM guarantee for 2020/21 and a $15MM team option for ’21/22, was something both sides pushed for at the time of the trade.

“Both sides knew the window we have — my window and the team’s window,” the Heat forward said. “We all know about when teams want cap space. It’s hard to get acclimated with a group of guys in two months. The locker room is a special place. I wanted to be somewhere where I could grow with the guys, a lot of the young talent that I have a good impression of, help them grow, especially Bam (Adebayo), Kendrick Nunn, Tyler (Herro) and Duncan (Robinson). I didn’t want it to be a two-, three-month thing.”

As Jackson points out, the Heat hadn’t expected to be a major player on the 2020 free agent market, so adding $15MM for Iguodala to next season’s books shouldn’t hurt the team. And in the 2021 offseason, the $15MM team option can be turned down with no penalty if the club needs to create cap room.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • General manager Tommy Sheppard said this week that the Wizards will be “very protective” of star guard Bradley Beal during the NBA’s restart, but there’s no indication Beal won’t play as the team pushes for the final playoff spot in the East, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.
  • Magic head coach Steve Clifford still isn’t committing one way or the other on whether Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu will be available this summer, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Asked today about the two injured forwards, Clifford replied, “They’re both in here working every day. … I just think it’s really early to try to make an intelligent decision on anything like that.”
  • Joe Wolf, who has been the head coach of the Hornets‘ G League affiliate for the last two seasons, won’t have his contract with the Greensboro Swarm extended, the club announced today in a press release.

Latest On Jonathan Isaac, Al-Farouq Aminu

Jonathan Isaac‘s rehab from his sprained left knee is going well, sources tell Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. However, it’s widely expected that Isaac will not play once the season resumes. The Magic have been cautious with bringing their young talent back from injury, as they were with Isaac previously, Mohamed Bamba, and Markelle Fultz.

The status of Al-Farouq Aminu, who underwent knee surgery back in January, is also up in the air, though it doesn’t sound like he’ll rejoin the team. Getting healthy and getting in basketball shape are two different objectives.

They have not played basketball in a long, long time,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said. “So it’s more than just saying, ‘Your knee is strengthened.’ It’s a matter of reconditioning and making sure that we’re not putting any of our players at risk for further injuries. So we’ll see as we go along how we get there. But I’m not prepared to apply any timeline or anything like that at this point. They’ve got a lot of work ahead of them.”

If the two forwards are not playing, it’s hard to see them joining the team in Disney World. The Magic are the current owners of the eighth seed in the East, sitting 5.5 games ahead of the Wizards for that spot.

Isaac, Aminu Unlikely To Play Until Next Season

Magic forwards Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu are unlikely to return this season despite the extended layoff, according to Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel.

Isaac suffered a knee injury on New Year’s Day and hasn’t played since that game in Washington. Isaac was establishing himself as a defensive force before the severe left knee sprain.

Aminu hasn’t played since November 29. Aminu underwent arthroscopic surgery in early January to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

The Magic were granted a disabled player exception for Aminu but were denied another one for Isaac’s injury.

“Not a whole lot of news there,” Orlando president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said of the duo. “As always, we’re going to wait and see how they respond to rehab. They’re both working very hard.”

Both players have guaranteed contracts for next season and the Magic plan to proceed with caution. Orlando is currently No. 8 in the Eastern Conference as play is expected to resume on July 31.

“There’s a difference of being healthy and then being safely healthy,” Weltman said. “It will have been a long, long time since those guys played and you know organizationally that we’re never going to put our guys in a position where they’re exposed to any sort of risk of injury. So that being said, we’ll just continue to see how they progress.”

Southeast Notes: Magic, Hornets, Heat

Speaking to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, Magic head coach Steve Clifford said that he and his staff are using the NBA’s layoff to “refresh mentally,” but admits he has spending some time every day on film study.

“You do get to watch film at a more leisurely pace when you don’t have a game coming up the next day, and there are certainly things that you can learn,” the Magic head coach said. “That will be part of all of our time. Then we’ll just start to plan for when, hopefully, we get to get back together.”

Clifford also spoke to Robbins about a handful of other topics, including how frequently he’s communicating with Magic players during the hiatus, the strides Markelle Fultz has taken this season, and the possibility of getting Al-Farouq Aminu and/or Jonathan Isaac back when play restarts. Clifford was noncommittal on potential return timelines for Aminu and Isaac.

“If those guys should come back, or one of them, obviously, that’d be great,” he said of the Magic’s injured forwards. “Both of them have been with us (on recent road trips and rehabbing at our facility). It would be like adding a new player from a talent standpoint.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

Eastern Notes: Boucher, Aminu, Heat, Celtics

Raptors forward Chris Boucher has apologized on social media for violating the team’s self-quarantine mandate, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. Boucher was spotted grocery shopping in Toronto. The Raptors were asked to isolate themselves after playing the Jazz last Monday, two nights before Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player known to contract the coronavirus.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Magic forward Al-Farouq Aminu might be able to play if and when the season restarts, Josh Robbins of The Athletic speculates. Aminu underwent surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his right knee on January 7 and he was not wearing a brace last week, Robbins notes. Forward Jonathan Isaac, who injured his knee in early January, was still wearing a brace and would be less likely to return, Robbins adds.
  • With the stoppage in place, the Heat are back in the luxury tax with no viable options to change that status before season’s end, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. Miami appears resigned to accepting the tax as part of its 2019/20 payroll, having bypassed opportunities to get below the tax at the trade deadline and the March 1 buyout deadline, Winderman adds.
  • The Celtics will pay team-employed game night staff through the end of the regularly scheduled season, Jay King of The Athletic tweets. They have no current plan to help out the employees of TD Garden who work their games regularly, as they don’t own the arena, King adds.

Southeast Notes: Ross, Gortat, Adebayo, Aminu

Magic forward Terrence Ross has ramped up his production in recent weeks, John Denton of the team’s website details. Ross is averaging 20.3 PPG over his last 12 games. He’s settled in comfortably as a sixth man after re-signing with the team on a four-year, $54MM contract. “I just have a better understanding of how things go over a long season and I feel like now I know what works and what doesn’t,” said Ross. “I just think I have really found my niche now.”

We have more Southeast Division news:

  • Former Wizards center Marcin Gortat regrets his rift with John Wall during his latter years in Washington, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. Gortat expressed that in an NBC Sports podcast. “Playing with John was extremely great. I wish I could sacrifice more time to be a better leader back then, during the fourth and fifth year in the locker room,” said Gortat, who has retired. “Now I can just say ‘I wish.’ But again, five years was extremely great and amazing to me.”
  • Heat center Bam Adebayo believes the next step for him is to become a 3-point threat, he told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Adebayo has made just one 3-pointer this season and four in his young career. “That will become a conversation [with coach Erik Spoelstra] because at the end of the day, he wants me to get better,” Adebayo said. “He wants me to be unguardable. He wants me to help this team win. In the future, it will be a conversation we will have.”
  • Magic forward Al-Farouq Aminu endured a rough first season with the club, as Josh Robbins of The Athletic details. The highly-regarded defender signed a three-year, $29.2MM contract with Orlando during the off-season but he only played 18 games before injuring his right knee, which eventually required surgery“You have a lot of disappointments throughout life, and you learn how to deal with it,” Aminu said. “I’ve been just been finding the silver lining and finding other things in order to keep myself entertained and keep myself busy and keep myself being productive.”

Magic Granted Disabled Player Excpetion

The Magic have received a disabled player exception for Al-Farouq Aminu, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic, citing reporting from Shams Charania.

The DPE is worth $4,629,000, which is half of Aminu’s salary for this season. It can only be used to sign a player for the rest of the season or to trade or make a waiver claim for a player with an expiring contract. Orlando is safely below the tax line and may try to take advantage of the DPE before the March 10 deadline.

Unlike the hardship provision, the DPE also doesn’t give the team an extra roster spot. The Magic currently have a full roster, but Gary Clark is on a 10-day contract that will expire tomorrow. Orlando also applied for a $2,903,220 DPE for Jonathan Isaac and is still awaiting a decision from the league.

Aminu had surgery earlier this month to fix a torn meniscus in his right knee. The team said he would be re-evaluated in 12 weeks, but he wasn’t expected back before April. The NBA only grants DPEs when players are expected to be sidelined through at least June 15, so it appears likely that Aminu’s season is over. He has two seasons left on the three-year deal he signed with Orlando over the summer.

With the Pistons receiving a DPE for Blake Griffin earlier today, that brings the total to seven for the season, which ties a record set in 2017/18, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The Wizards ($4.36MM), Pelicans ($3.62MM), Trail Blazers ($2.85MM), Lakers ($1.75MM) and Nets ($839K) have already been granted DPEs, as our tracker shows.

Magic Apply For Two Disabled Player Exceptions

The Magic have applied for a pair of disabled player exceptions, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the team has requested DPEs for both Al-Farouq Aminu and Jonathan Isaac.

As we outline in our glossary entry on the disabled player exception, a team can apply for a DPE to replace a seriously injured player. In order for the exception to be granted, an NBA-designated physician must determine that the player is “substantially more likely than not” to be sidelined through at least June 15 of the current league year.

The Magic haven’t announced specific recovery timetables for Aminu and Isaac, simply ruling both players out indefinitely. The club said last Thursday that Isaac’s knee injury would be re-evaluated in eight-to-10 weeks and said yesterday that Aminu’s knee injury would be re-evaluated in 12 weeks.

If the NBA determines that both players are likely to be sidelined through June 15, the resulting disabled player exceptions would allow the Magic to sign replacement players for 50% of the injured players’ salaries. A DPE, which doesn’t give a team an extra roster spot, can also be used to acquire a player on an expiring contract via trade or waivers if his salary fits into the exception.

A disabled player exception for Aminu would be worth $4,629,000, while one for Isaac would be worth $2,903,220.

The Magic are far enough below the tax line that they could safely use one or both of those exceptions to make a play for a free agent. I wouldn’t expect Orlando to be a top choice for the highest-profile veterans on the buyout market this winter, so the club’s ability to offer well above the minimum could come in handy when recruiting those players.

The deadline to use a disabled player exception is March 10. The Wizards, Pelicans, Trail Blazers, Lakers, and Nets all have DPEs available.

Magic’s Aminu Out At Least 12 Weeks Following Knee Surgery

It looks like it may be a lost first season for Al-Farouq Aminu in Orlando. The Magic announced today in a press release that the veteran forward has undergone successful surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

Orlando doesn’t offer a specific timetable for Aminu’s return, announcing that he has been ruled out indefinitely. However, the team noted it will be approximately 12 weeks before he’s re-evaluated. That means he’s unlikely to return before April, and there’s a chance we won’t see him on the court again this season.

Aminu, 29, was one of the first free agents to come off the board during the summer of 2019, agreeing to a three-year deal with Orlando worth the full mid-level exception. He was coming off a solid season in Portland in which he averaged 9.4 PPG and 7.5 RPG on .433/.343/.867 shooting while playing strong defense.

However, Aminu has been limited to just 18 games during his first season with the Magic, having been sidelined with his torn meniscus since the start of December. Even when he was healthy, the veteran struggled in a part-time role, with his shooting line dipping to an abysmal .291/.250/.655.

This is the second major injury for the Magic, who also lost Jonathan Isaac to a potentially season-ending knee injury. The club announced last Thursday that Isaac would be re-evaluated in eight-to-10 weeks.

With neither Aminu nor Isaac expected back anytime soon to fortify the frontcourt, the Magic will have to rely more heavily on forwards like Aaron Gordon and Wesley Iwundu as they look to hang onto a playoff spot. Orlando is currently the No. 7 seed in the East, with a 17-20 record and a three-game cushion on the ninth-seeded Hornets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.