D.J. Augustin

Magic’s D.J. Augustin Out At Least 3-4 Weeks

The Magic will be without their primary backup point guard for at least the next few weeks, announcing on Thursday night in a press release that D.J. Augustin has been diagnosed with left knee bone irritation after undergoing an MRI.

Augustin will be re-evaluated in about three or four weeks, according to the Magic, who say that the veteran’s return will depend on how he responds to treatment.

It’s a tough turn of events for the Magic, who have had to deal with an increasing number of injuries in recent weeks. With forwards Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu on the shelf with long-term ailments, the club signed Gary Clark to a 10-day contract earlier this week, parting ways with point guard Josh Magette, since it seemed at the time as if Augustin was good to go.

However, Augustin’s knee pain returned and his injury now may sideline him until next month’s All-Star break. While Markelle Fultz has been a pleasant surprise for Orlando this season, enjoying one of the best games of his career on Wednesday, he’s the team’s only healthy point guard at the moment, as Michael Carter-Williams continues to be nagged by a shoulder injury.

The Magic would only qualify for a hardship exception – allowing them to add a 16th man – if Carter-Williams still projects to miss at least two more weeks after Augustin sits for a third consecutive game on Saturday. So the team may have to make do with its current roster and wait for MCW and Augustin to get healthy.

Augustin, whose numbers are down this season after an impressive 2018/19 campaign, will be looking to finish the season strong once he returns from his knee injury, as the Magic make a playoff push and he prepares for unrestricted free agency.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Heat, Olynyk, Magic

Hornets head coach James Borrego had done an admirable job this season finding plenty of playing time for his youngsters without alienating the veterans on the roster, as Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer details.

Borrego vowed during the preseason that he wouldn’t let salaries dictate which players get the most minutes and has stuck to that approach as his team, which currently holds the No. 9 seed in the East, has exceeded expectations. Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier, PJ Washington, and Miles Bridges are the top four Hornets in minutes per game, but vets like Cody Zeller, Nicolas Batum, and Bismack Biyombo have had regular roles too.

“I feel like he has made us older guys a part of this thing as well,” Hornets forward Marvin Williams said of Borrego. “Obviously, Nic would love to play more, but he’s a team player. There are times when I maybe would like to play more, but that’s not my job (to decide).”

As Borrego looks to continue striking that balance while keeping Charlotte competitive, let’s round up a few more notes from around the Southeast…

  • For the five years following LeBron James‘ departure in 2014, the Heat were almost exactly a .500 team, averaging just under 42 wins per season. However, the club is on pace to rack up 56 wins in 2019/20. In an entertaining feature, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps take a look at how team president Pat Riley and free agent addition Jimmy Butler – along with rising star Bam Adebayo – have helped revitalize the franchise.
  • After spending most of the season outside of the Heat‘s rotation, James Johnson has played rotation minutes in three of the team’s last four games, while it’s Kelly Olynyk who finds himself getting DNP-CDs. Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel examines the evolving roles for the two Miami bigs and how they’re responding.
  • One day after they ended point guard Josh Magette‘s 10-day contract, the Magic find themselves without D.J. Augustin (knee) and Michael Carter-Williams (shoulder) for Wednesday’s game vs. the Lakers. Asked about that roster decision, head coach Steve Clifford admitted that the return of Augustin’s knee soreness “caught us totally off-guard,” tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Magette 10-day deal would’ve run through January 20 if it hadn’t been terminated early.

Magic Notes: Isaac, Fultz, Bamba, Fournier

The Magic didn’t offer a specific return timetable for Jonathan Isaac when they issued an update on his left knee injury last week. However, the up-and-coming forward isn’t expected to be re-evaluated for eight-to-10 weeks, and Josh Robbins of The Athletic suggests Isaac will likely miss the rest of the 2019/20 season.

As Robbins writes in a separate story for The Athletic, Isaac’s absence will be a tough blow for a Magic team that had already played below its expectations in the first half. While Orlando currently holds the No. 8 seed, the team had hoped to move up in the standings after winning 22 of its final 31 games last season. Instead, the Magic are just 16-20 so far, and without perhaps their best defensive player, there’s no guarantee they’ll hang onto that postseason spot.

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • Despite his injury, Isaac is one of two Magic players viewed by Robbins as untouchable in trade talks, as The Athletic’s Orlando reporter details in his deadline primer. The second player? Markelle Fultz, whom team officials believe will continue to improve as a shooter and defender. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the club trades either player, Robbins writes.
  • While Mo Bamba isn’t in the same untouchable tier as Isaac and Fultz, that doesn’t mean the Magic have any interest in moving him, according to Robbins, who suggests the team is unlikely to give up young players or first-round picks for a short-term fix, given the ceiling on this year’s roster.
  • The Magic face a similar dilemma with Evan Fournier that they did a year ago with Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, Robbins observes. Vucevic and Ross were veterans headed for unrestricted free agency, but Orlando chose not to trade either player and eventually re-signed both. It’s not clear whether the team will head down a similar path with Fournier — Robbins speculates that the Magic will be open to inquiries but would insist on receiving high value in any deal.
  • Fultz has supplanted D.J. Augustin as the Magic’s starting point guard, but head coach Steve Clifford hasn’t hesitated to play the two guards together, and the results have been positive, writes Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com. Orlando has a 104.7 offensive rating and 106.1 defensive rating on the season, but those marks have improved to 111.4 and 101.9, respectively, when Augustin and Fultz share the court.

Lakers Notes: Augustin, Collison, Rondo, Kuzma

D.J. Augustin could be an option for the Lakers as they seek help at point guard, writes Sean Deveney of Heavy. A source tells Deveney the team would be the front-runner to land Darren Collison if he’s serious about returning to the NBA, but the Lakers’ front office is exploring other options as well.

LeBron James has been handling most of the point guard duties, with help from 33-year-old Rajon Rondo and combo guards Alex Caruso and Avery Bradley. Offseason addition Quinn Cook has fallen out of the rotation.

Augustin, who has an expiring $7.25MM contract, would provide a more dependable option in the postseason. Deveney speculates that he might be available if the Magic decide to point toward next season after this week’s injury to Jonathan Isaac, particularly now that Markelle Fultz replaced Augustin as a starter. The Lakers don’t have a second-round pick to offer until 2023, but Deveney notes they do have Talen Horton-Tucker, who was drafted by Orlando last year.

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Collison, who said he wants to join one of the L.A. teams, would be the Lakers’ best option if he has kept his game sharp during his brief retirement, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Pincus points out that Collison spent the 2013/14 season with the Clippers, but also played for Lakers coach Frank Vogel in Indiana.
  • Rondo said he was convinced to spend another year with the Lakers after the organization acquired two of his former teammates by trading for Anthony Davis and signing DeMarcus Cousins, relays Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Cousins, who hasn’t played because of injury, was especially important, with Rondo telling general manager Rob Pelinka during free agency, “If you go grab Cous, you got me.”
  • The Lakers have started listening to trade offers involving Kyle Kuzma, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. After hearing his name included in numerous rumors during his first two NBA seasons, Kuzma feels ready for whatever happens, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “I’ve been in trade rumors ever since I came here,” Kuzma said. “I think that’s just a thing that happens when you’re a Laker. You’re always in trade rumors, especially in this time, so it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Just control what you can control.”

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southeast Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southeast Division:

Allen Crabbe, Hawks, 27, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $74.8MM deal in 2016
Remember when the Nets thought so highly of Crabbe they signed him to a giant offer sheet? And the Trail Blazers valued him so much they matched the offer sheet? And then Brooklyn wanted him so badly it traded for Crabbe the following summer? It all seems so silly now. The Nets were willing to give up two future first-rounders to get rid of Crabbe. Now in the final year of that odious contract, he’s averaging 5.0 PPG and shooting 28.8% from 3-point range. Crabbe will probably be looking at veteran’s minimum offers next season as he attempts to reboot his career.

Bismack Biyombo, Hornets, 27, C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $72MM deal in 2016
Like Crabbe, Biyombo got silly money in the summer of 2016 after a solid playoff performance with Toronto. Orlando quickly got a case of buyer’s remorse and he was eventually shipped to Charlotte in 2018. To his credit, Biyombo has worked his way into the rebuilding Hornets’ rotation. He’s posted double digits in points six times this month while averaging 8.0 RPG in 22.1 MPG. Traditional big men like Biyombo are being phased out of the league, so he won’t attract a lot of interest. But he’s shown he can be a rotation piece somewhere.

Meyers Leonard, Heat, 27, PF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $41MM deal in 2016
Another player who cashed in during the summer of 2016, Leonard has never averaged more than 8.4 PPG or 5.1 RPG. Other than avid Heat fans, few people realize that Leonard has started 30 games for one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams. He doesn’t often finish games but he’s endeared himself enough to coach Erik Spoelstra to keep his spot in the lineup. Leonard doesn’t shoot a lot of threes but he makes them (48.3%). He’s also making an impact on the boards (23 in the last two games). As a stretch four alone, Leonard will draw interest as an unrestricted free agent.

D.J. Augustin, Magic, 32, PG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $29MM deal in 2016
Markelle Fultz is playing regularly but Augustin is still receiving steady playing time from coach Steve Clifford. Augustin threw in a two-point clunker against Chicago on Monday but in his previous four games he averaged 18.5 PPG and 5.3 APG. While Augustin’s overall shooting numbers are down, he can still be a productive rotation player. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Orlando brought back Augustin in a reserve role. If not, he still has enough left in the tank to be someone’s backup floor leader.

Davis Bertans, Wizards, 27, SF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $14.5MM deal in 2018
Bertans was enjoying a breakout season until he was sidelined recently by a quad injury. Bertans was averaging 15.4 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 30.0 MPG while mostly coming off the bench for Washington. The Wizards have been feeding Bertans to ball beyond the arc and he’s consistently delivered, averaging 43.4% from deep on a whopping 8.6 attempts per game. Bertans’ prolific long range shooting is bound to get the unrestricted free agent some lucrative offers in this summer’s weak free agent class.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: Augustin, Thomas, Waiters, Wall

Magic point guard D.J. Augustin plans to play until he’s 35 or 36, as he told Sean Deveney of Forbes.com. Given that Augustin turns 32 next month, that would mean another three or four seasons in the league. Augustin began this season as the Magic’s starter at the point, though the team hopes that Markelle Fultz eventually emerges in that role. Augustin, an unrestricted free agent next summer, averaged 11.7 PPG and 5.3 APG last season while making 42.1% of his 3-pointers.

“I have sacrificed a lot, I am away from my kids a lot. They’re getting older,” the Magic point guard said. “I think 35, 36 would be a good age for me to be done and just spend time with them and be more involved with their lives.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Isaiah Thomas showed flashes of his former MVP self in his Wizards’ debut on Saturday night, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes. He had 16 points, five assists and three rebounds in less than 20 minutes after recovering from a thumb injury. Thomas joined the Wizards on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal after a forgettable season with the Nuggets. “There’s going to be some bad days. There’s going to be some good days,” he said. “But I’m going to be even keel throughout the process knowing that if I keep taking steps forward, I’m going to get closer to where I was and hopefully surpass that.”
  • It will interesting to see if the chemistry the Heat have forged thus far will be disrupted by the returns of Dion Waiters and James Johnson, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. The shooting of Waiters and defense of Johnson can still help the team, though it played with a sense of togetherness in a win over the Bucks on Saturday, Winderman adds. Both are signed through the 2020/21 season, though Johnson has a player option.
  • Wizards point guard John Wall and Adidas are negotiating a buyout on his five-year footwear and apparel endorsement contract less than two years into the agreement, ESPN’s Nick DePaula reports. Wall, who is expected to miss the season as he recovers from an Achilles tear, was due to make nearly $25MM on the endorsement contract.

Magic Notes: Fultz, Bamba, Augustin, Gordon

In his first game with the Magic, Markelle Fultz showed off some of the skills that made him the top pick in the 2017 draft, writes Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Playing for the first time since last November, Fultz had six points, four assists, two rebounds and an electrifying dunk in a win over the Spurs.

“It was really just a blessing,” Fultz said. “I give a lot of praise to the man up top, God. It’s all I can say. It was my first time out there in a long time and I’m just happy I was able to step out on the floor and compete.”

Orlando acquired Fultz from the Sixers in February after a frustrating season and a half in Philadelphia that was marked by physical issues and a jump shot that went haywire. His latest ailment, diagnosed as thoracic outlet syndrome, had kept him sidelined since last November 19. He received full medical clearance before camp opened and was determined to play in the preseason opener.

“It means the world to me just to see him out there,” teammate Mohamed Bamba said. “I asked him, ‘How you feeling?’ and he’s like, ‘I feel great. The game’s coming slower and it’s coming easier to me by the minute.’ It felt good to see him out there having fun.”

There’s more this morning from Orlando:

  • Bamba was also happy to be back on the court Saturday after missing the final 30 games of last season and the team’s playoff run with a foot injury, Parry notes in a separate story. After an 18-point, six-rebound and three-block performance, Bamba is optimistic about his sophomore campaign. “I had a lot of time to think about the upcoming season,” he said. “It’s just a preseason game and it doesn’t necessarily prove anything, but it felt good to get out there and just run with the guys.”
  • Coach Steve Clifford plans to use Fultz and D.J. Augustin together in the backcourt, Parry relays in another piece. Even though they’re both listed as point guards, Clifford believes Fultz’s ability to defend bigger players will make the combination work. “They’re both super-skilled,” he said. “They both play with a point guard mentality and then you’ve got two really good pick-and-roll players.”
  • Clifford also plans to play Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac together at center and power forward, tweets Dave DuFour of The Athletic.

Southeast Notes: Thomas, Heat, Augustin

Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas has a prime opportunity to prove himself with the franchise this season, joining a roster lacking depth at point guard due to the lengthy recovery time for John Wall.

Thomas, 30, appeared in just 12 games with the Nuggets last season and 32 games with the Cavs and Lakers back in 2017/18. During his last healthy season, the 2016/17 campaign with Boston, he held per-game averages of 28.9 points and 5.9 assists in 76 contests.

“The NBA is about ‘what have you done for me lately?’ I understood that at a younger age and I get it,” Thomas said, as relayed by Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“These last two years have been tough. But I always say that it can’t storm forever. So, at some point things gotta open up. Hopefully with this big opportunity with the Wizards, I can show people that I can still play at a high level.”

Thomas has found new motivation coming off a quiet season with Denver, working out with on-court trainer Andre Brown during the offseason with hopes of regaining his old footing in the league.

“This opportunity is going to be big for him, to shock the world,” Brown said of Thomas. “I just want everyone to pay attention and open [their] eyes and know that ‘it’s time.'”

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • The Heat will likely try and trade out of the luxury tax if possible, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Miami has little to no additional flexibility outside of its 14 players under contract, with players set to report to training camp in less than one month.
  • In a separate article for the Sun Sentinel, Winderman ponders whether the Heat are sacrificing developmental opportunities. Miami signed veteran forward Udonis Haslem to its 14th roster spot this offseason, as Winderman notes, valuing the 39-year-old’s experience and locker room leadership for their current group of players.
  • Magic guard D.J. Augustin hopes the team’s offseason will lay a foundation for future success, Dan Savage of NBA.com writes. “They’re in here every day whether it’s on the court working out or in the weight room lifting weights, the fact that they’re here now and have been here all summer doing those things, it’s going to go a long way in their growth and their development as basketball players,” Augustin said of Orlando’s young core, which includes the likes of Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba and Markelle Fultz. “Every guy doesn’t work out the same, some guys hang out in the summer time and work out every now and then, but those guys are dedicated and they’re working hard every single day.”

Southeast Notes: Wizards, McGruder, Bamba, Briscoe

Even if the Wizards are granted an $8.6MM disabled player exception, they’re more likely to sign players to 10-day contracts than use that exception, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Washington applied for the exception due to John Wall‘s season-ending heel surgery.

The Wizards’ cap issues make it unlikely they’d find a free agent enticing enough to sign for the remainder of the season by using a portion of the exception. The Wizards inked point guard Ramon Sessions to a pair of 10-day contracts last season before signing him for the rest of the season, Hughes notes.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Shooting guard Rodney McGruder could lose his rotation spot if Heat coach Erik Spoelstra decides to expand Tyler Johnson‘s minutes, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes in his latest mailbag. In that instance, Dion Waiters would start ahead of McGruder and Johnson would receive second unit minutes. Waiters returned from ankle surgery three games ago. McGruder has played fewer than 20 minutes in three of the last four games.
  • An MRI on rookie center Mohamed Bamba‘s sore foot showed no structural damage, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Magic coach Steve Clifford said Bamba is unlikely to play this weekend, Robbins adds. The sixth overall pick sat out against Utah on Wednesday.
  • Clifford is inclined to keep rookie Isaiah Briscoe in the Magic’s rotation as the backup point guard, Robbins reports in another tweet. Briscoe has averaged 17.5 MPG in the last two games, contributing 5.5 PPG and 3.5 APG. The undrafted Kentucky product has displaced Jerian Grant, who had been backing up D.J. Augustin. Briscoe’s salary is non-guaranteed after this season, while Grant could be an unrestricted free agent if the club doesn’t extend a $3.76MM qualifying offer.

Southeast Notes: Satoransky, Toliver, Magic, Bacon

Wizards restricted free agent Tomas Satoransky has been thrust into the spotlight with John Wall opting for season-ending heel surgery, Chase Hughes on NBC Sports Washington notes. Satoransky takes over the starting point guard spot with Wall sidelined, with Chasson Randle, Ron Baker and Troy Brown Jr. in reserve. Coach Scott Brooks believes Satoransky can handle the pressure. “He’s ready for this,” Brooks said. “Tomas is going to get a great opportunity. He’s going to be more comfortable as the games go by.” Washington will need to make Satoransky a qualifying offer of $3.9MM to prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards assistant coach Kristi Toliver is being paid like an intern due to NBA rules, Howard Megdal of the New York Times reports. Since Toliver plays with the Mystics, who are also owned by Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, the league determined that Toliver’s compensation must come out of the $50K allocated to each team to pay WNBA players for off-season work. Much of that had already been promised to Mystics and WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, so Toliver is only making $10K.
  • The Magic will aggressively pursue a point guard in free agency, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweets. Orlando has been using journeyman D.J. Augustin as its starter this season with Jerian Grant as the primary backup.
  • The Hornets will likely bring back Dwayne Bacon with Jeremy Lamb injured, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Lamb suffered a right hamstring strain on Monday. Bacon was assigned the team’s G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, on Sunday. Bacon, a second-year swingman, has appeared in 17 games with the Hornets, averaging 5.5 PPG in 12.4 MPG.