Jalen Suggs

Southeast Notes: Avdija, Dinwiddie, Ball, Heat, Magic

Wizards forward Deni Avdija, who fractured his right ankle in April, participated in 5-on-5 scrimmages on Monday for the first time during his recovery process, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The team is hoping Avdija will be able to return to the court during the preseason, perhaps as soon as Saturday.

Meanwhile, another player coming off a major injury – Spencer Dinwiddie – is making a strong early impression with his new club. Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said on Tuesday that he has been “pleasantly surprised” with how Dinwiddie looks this fall, suggesting that the veteran point guard appears “he’s back to normal” following his partial ACL tear last December (Twitter link via Ava Wallace of The Washington Post).

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • LaMelo Ball looks fully healthy after dealing with a wrist injury at the end of last season, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer, who notes that the Hornets have inserted Miles Bridges into their starting lineup this season at least in part to take advantage of the chemistry between him and Ball.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic was surprised that the win-now Heat weren’t more willing to cross the luxury tax line this offseason, pointing out that they could’ve given free agent guard Kendrick Nunn the same deal he got from the Lakers and remained below the hard cap. As Hollinger outlines, Miami could avoid the tax this season and next, but project to be a taxpayer in 2023/24 if Tyler Herro is extended.
  • The Magic started rookies Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner alongside veterans Gary Harris, Terrence Ross, and Wendell Carter in their first preseason game on Monday, but head coach Jamahl Mosley said that won’t necessarily be the same group that opens the regular season as the team’s starting five. “The way I try to look at it in this instance was, because it’s an extension of training camp, I’m just going to try looking at different lineups,” Mosley said, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “So it was treating it similar to a practice: We’d have different lineups going against one another, different combinations.”

NBA GMs Like Heat’s Offseason Moves, Nets’ Title Chances

Nearly half of the NBA’s general managers voted for the Heat as the team that had the best 2021 offseason, John Schuhmann of NBA.com writes in his annual survey of the league’s GMs. Miami got 14 of 30 possible votes, while the Lakers picked up five votes. The Nets, Rockets, and Wizards were the other teams picked by multiple GMs as having the best offseason.

The Heat’s acquisition of Kyle Lowry via sign-and-trade helped tip the scales in their favor. Asked which offseason player acquisition will make the biggest impact for his new team this season, GMs overwhelmingly chose Lowry — he received 23 of 30 votes. New Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook was the only other player to get multiple votes (five).

Although the Heat and Lakers received high marks from rival GMs for their work over the summer, neither club is considered the title favorite entering the 2021/22 season. That honor belongs to the Nets, who earned 22 votes from GMs for the team that will win the 2022 Finals. The Lakers (five) and Bucks (three) were the only other teams to receive any votes.

Here are a few more of the most interesting responses from Schuhmann’s GM survey, which is worth checking out in full:

  • The Trail Blazers‘ trade for Larry Nance Jr. received the most votes (28%) for the most underrated acquisition of the offseason, with the Nets‘ signing of Patty Mills (17%) and the Wizards‘ addition of Spencer Dinwiddie (14%) also receiving support in that category.
  • The NBA’s GMs view Rockets guard Jalen Green (47%) and Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (40%) as the best bets to win Rookie of the Year, but voted Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley as the rookie who will be the best player in five years. Mobley (33%) narrowly edged out Cunningham (30%) and Green (23%) in that category.
  • The GMs voted the Magic‘s selection of Jalen Suggs at No. 5 (23%) and the Rockets‘ pick of Alperen Sengun at No. 16 (20%) as the biggest steals of the 2021 draft.
  • The Bulls (27%) are considered the best bet to be the most improved team in 2021/22, while Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (17%) received the most support as the top breakout candidate.
  • Following their run to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hawks (50%) were overwhelmingly voted as the team with the best young core. The Rockets received three votes, while no other team got more than two.
  • Only two players received multiple votes when GMs were asked which player they’d want to start a franchise with: Mavericks star Luka Doncic (43%) barely beat out Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo (40%).

Southeast Notes: Strus, Vincent, Wizards, Suggs, Yurtseven

Heat third-year players Max Strus and Gabe Vincent believe they’re ready to contribute to the team’s title chase this season, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes.

Strus and Vincent were on two-way contracts with the club last season, seeing sparse time off the bench. Miami decided to reward their hard work by signing them to standard deals this summer. Both have impressed during the first week of training camp.

“I’ve been working out with them all summer,” Heat star Bam Adebayo said of Strus and Vincent. “Just seeing the way they’ve grown. Vincent is becoming a better point guard. Putting dudes in the right spots, he’s getting to his spot and doing everything in between.

“Then Max is just shooting the piss out of the ball. That’s why we brought him here. He’s one of those sneaky athletic guys and he can defend. They’ve both just advanced their games to a whole other level than where it was last year.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • The Wizards used a players-only speech and meeting to improve their chemistry in training camp, Chase Hughes examines for NBC Sports Washington. The speech was led by star guard Bradley Beal, who averaged a career-high 31.3 points per game last season, while the meeting was called by Montrezl Harrell“(Beal) was talking about just being that one unit, doing everything together,” guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said. “Even today, we had a players-only meeting and that’s what we talked about; holding each other accountable and being there for each other.”
  • Magic rookie Jalen Suggs is excited for his first preseason action, Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel writes. Orlando opens its preseason against Boston on Monday, giving Suggs the chance to play on an NBA court for the first time. “Super-excited to be starting up my rookie year,” he said. “It’s something you dream of, so this is another one of those first-time moments that you got to look forward to and you just got to take in. It only happen one time, the first time, and I’m excited, ready to get out there and ready to get up and down with the guys and be in front of a crowd.”
  • In his latest “Ask Ira” mailbag for the Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman explores whether the preseason is a chance for Omer Yurtseven to show that he can replicate the success he saw in Summer League. Yurtseven recently spoke to Hoops Rumors about his new contract, offseason and more, giving a detailed look at his situation as he gears up his first NBA season.

Magic’s Isaac, Fultz Won’t Be Ready For Opening Night

Young Magic cornerstones Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz, who are both coming off ACL tears, won’t be ready to play in the team’s regular season opener next month, sources tell Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

As Robbins explains, the Magic’s organizational policy is to avoid setting specific timelines or return dates for players who are recovering from injuries. However, Robbins has heard that the team will exercise significant caution with both Isaac and Fultz. The front office views getting the two players back into games and getting them through the 2021/22 season without any new health issues as two of its top organizational priorities, Robbins adds.

“Both of those guys have been, as you would expect if you cover our team, relentless in their approach,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said of Isaac and Fultz. “They’ve been working daily grinding. They both look really good. I will not elaborate on timelines. To me as a layman, this is where I just don’t want any setbacks. … But right now, they continue to progress through their rehab right on course and they’re making progress.”

As Robbins observes, Isaac is about 14 months removed from his ACL injury, while Fultz underwent surgery on his ACL only about nine months ago, so the forward may be on track to return a little sooner than the former No. 1 overall pick.

The Magic will also be missing veteran guard Michael Carter-Williams to start the regular season, putting point guard duties in the hands of youngsters Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony.

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • Isaac confirmed on Monday that he has yet to take the COVID-19 vaccine, but suggested that a recent Rolling Stone report misrepresented his views. “I am not anti-vax,” Isaac told reporters, including Robbins. “I’m not anti-medicine. I’m not anti-science. I didn’t come to my current vaccination status by studying Black history or watching Donald Trump press conferences. … But with that being said, it is my belief that the vaccine status of every person should be their own choice, and completely up to them without bullying, without being pressured, without being forced into doing so. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m uncomfortable with taking the vaccine at this time.”
  • Suggs and fellow lottery pick Franz Wagner are both candidates to begin the season in the Magic’s starting lineups, but new head coach Jamahl Mosley isn’t prepared to speculate about the makeup of his starting five quite yet, according to Robbins. “I think it’s a little early to tell which way we’re going to go with lineups and the roster and rotations,” Mosley said on Monday. “We want to get that first part of training camp started just so we can see what the different combinations look like.”
  • Chuma Okeke won’t be participating in full-contact drills at the start of training camp, since he recently sustained a right hip bruise during a voluntary workout, per Weltman (via Robbins).
  • The Magic are expected to have “thorough” discussions with Wendell Carter Jr.‘s reps about a possible rookie scale extension before opening night, says Robbins. “I would love to be here for a long time,” Carter said. “I love Orlando. I love the city. I love my teammates. I love the people here, the weather, everything. So I would love to be here, but right now, I’m just focused on training camp.”

Southeast Notes: Bertans, Magic, Kreutzer, Murphy, Hawks

Having acquired Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma in a trade with the Lakers and used their first-round pick to draft Corey Kispert, the Wizards should have a few more outside shooting threats in 2021/22 than they did a year ago. However, that doesn’t mean Davis Bertans has become expendable, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

As Hughes outlines, the Wizards will still have several players in their rotation who won’t effectively stretch the floor, and there’s no guarantee Kispert will be a reliable contributor right away as a rookie. Throw in the fact that Washington ranked 28th in the NBA last season in three-pointers made, and it’s clear the team isn’t in position to get rid of any shooters — especially one like Bertans, whose contract would be hard to trade, and who made 39.5% of his three-point attempts even in a down year in 2020/21.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • If everyone on the Magic‘s roster is fully healthy to start the 2021/22 season, Josh Robbins of The Athletic thinks Gary Harris and Jonathan Isaac would be the only two players assured of a spot in the starting lineup. Robbins views Wendell Carter as the most likely starter at center, with Markelle Fultz and Jalen Suggs in the mix for the point guard spot. Both Fultz and Suggs could theoretically start if Orlando is comfortable with a three-guard lineup, Robbins notes.
  • The Magic are retaining Bruce Kreutzer and Dylan Murphy to be part of Jamahl Mosley‘s new coaching staff, reports Robbins (Twitter links). Both Kreutzer and Murphy served under Steve Clifford for the last three seasons in Orlando.
  • In a mailbag for The Athletic, Chris Kirschner addresses a handful of Hawks-related questions, including inquiries on whether Atlanta is a realistic suitor for Ben Simmons, what the team’s chances are of repeating its 2021 playoff success, and what the roles Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter will play going forward. Kirschner likes the idea of pursuing Simmons if the price is fair and he’s willing to play a position besides point guard.

Southeast Notes: Heat Rotation, Suggs, Todd, Garrett, Haslem

The Heat‘s rotation could look pretty thin this season, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

After the main eight-man rotation of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris, and Dewayne Dedmon, there are a lot of question marks. Victor Oladipo is still recovering from his quad surgery, KZ Okpala has yet to prove himself as ready to play real minutes, and Udonis Haslem‘s status is up in the air.

The ability of at least one of Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, or Omer Yurtseven to break through will be crucial. Strus and Yurtseven have been two of the top performers in Summer League, and the Heat will be hoping their renowned player development program can turn them into immediate contributors.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Magic prize rookie Jalen Suggs will miss the remainder of Summer League with a sprained left thumb, according to a tweet from the team’s PR account. Suggs had an impressive Summer League, averaging 15.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.3 APG and 1.7 SPG while showcasing impressive scoring and defensive instincts. The move is a precautionary one, so it shouldn’t impact his status for training camp next month.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Instagram video) breaks down the contract signed by Isaiah Todd, the 31st pick in the draft for the Wizards. The four-year, $6.9MM contract will pay Todd $1.5MM in year one, about $600K more than the minimum. The first three years are guaranteed with a $2MM team option in year four. Marks adds it’s likely the team option is declined in year four in order to make Todd a restricted free agent. Keith Smith of Spotrac has the year-by-year breakdown here.
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes that the Heat, in their offseason dealing, essentially chose the path that would allow them to sign Tucker, rather than keeping Precious Achiuwa and signing someone else (ie. Jeff Green) using the $4.9MM room exception. Jackson adds that Summer League standout Marcus Garrett is a top candidate for one of the Heat’s two two-way contracts.
  • Heat big man Udonis Haslem is still deciding what his future holds when he eventually retires from basketball, but is happy to continue his playing career for now, as Winderman writes. Appearing on teammate Duncan Robinson‘s podcast, Haslem said: “Miami is my home, it’s my city. Why not still be a part of what’s going on there and still be able to move the needle and impact and hopefully win more championships?” Haslem added that team ownership has been on his mind for a long time, and that he’s had many conversations with ex-teammate Dwyane Wade on the subject.

Southeast Notes: Butler, Thor, Magic, Dinwiddie

After finalizing his new four-year, maximum contract extension over the weekend, All-NBA Heat swingman Jimmy Butler spoke about why he wanted to commit to Miami long-term, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald.

“They allow me to be me here, love who I am as a person and player,” Butler said of the Heat organization. “Love the guys I have an opportunity to hoop with. I think we’ll be a really good team. We’re consistently getting better, adding the right amount of vets to get over the hump and win a championship. It means everything to me to represent this great organization.”

Butler, who turns 32 in September, said that he wants to finish his career in Miami.

“It’s a place for me,” Butler said. “Teammates allow me to be me. When I’m wrong, they’re going to tell me I’m wrong. When I’m right they still probably tell me I’m wrong. I love them for that. Blessing to play with these guys and [head coach Erik Spoelstra] and [team president] Pat Riley.”

A four-time All-NBA selection, five-time All-Star, and five-time All-Defensive Team member while with the Bulls, Timberwolves and Heat (he did not earn any of these honors with his other NBA team, the Sixers), Butler showed no signs of slowing down during the 2020/21 regular season. He averaged 21.5 PPG on 49.7% shooting from the field and 86.3% from the free-throw line, as well as career-best averages of 7.1 APG, 6.9 RPG, and 2.1 SPG.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Hornets rookie power forward JT Thor was signed to a four-year deal, with the first two seasons guaranteed, using some of Charlotte’s cap space, reports Bobby Marks of ESPN (Instagram video link). The 18-year-old big man was selected with the No. 37 pick out of Auburn in this year’s draft.
  • The young core of the rebuilding Magic – including rookie lottery picks Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner, along with second-year point guard Cole Anthony – is exhibiting encouraging signs of development during NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, writes Dan Savage of Magic.com. “It’s about them developing camaraderie, and their ability to just tie together and move forward growing together,” new head coach Jamahl Mosley said of the Summer League squad. “Just continuing to build off each other and for each other.”
  • After having waived shooting guard Dwayne Bacon this weekend, the Magic project to have an open 15th roster spot, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Robbins anticipates Orlando will probably leave this final roster spot available in case an opportunity arises for the team to take on an unwanted contract – along with a draft pick – into its sizable trade exception.
  • New Wizards starting point guard Spencer Dinwiddie has several intriguing incentives in his three-year, $62MM deal with Washington, as Michael Scotto of HoopsHype details (Twitter link). Dinwiddie will be earn a $1.5MM bonus if he plays in 50+ games, $100K if the Wizards win a first-round playoff series, $571K should the Wizards make the Eastern Conference Finals, and $400K if the Wizards qualify for the NBA Finals. As Bobby Marks of ESPN (Instagram video link) first reported, Dinwiddie would net a scant $1 bonus for winning the NBA Finals. Marks added in the same video that the partial guarantee on Dinwiddie’s 2023/24 salary will become fully guaranteed if he plays in 50+ games during the 2022/23 season.

Magic Sign Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner To Rookie Contracts

The Magic have signed lottery picks Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner to their first NBA contracts, the team announced (via Twitter).

Suggs, a freshman guard out of Gonzaga, was expected to be a top four pick, but slid to Orlando at No. 5 on draft night. He will make about $6.59MM in his first season, assuming he receives the maximum 120% of the rookie scale.

Suggs was a standout player for the Zags, who went undefeated until the NCAA championship game, averaging 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 30 games. He figures to make an immediate impact on the Magic’s young backcourt.

Wagner, the eighth overall pick, will make about $5MM as a rookie. He averaged 12.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG as a sophomore at Michigan.

Eastern Draft Notes: Nets, Cavs, Heat, Raptors, Pacers

The Nets own a first-rounder at No. 27 and three second-rounders, so expect them to be very active this evening, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Multiple teams are interested in guard Landry Shamet and the Nets would love to dump DeAndre Jordan‘s salary. Some of those picks could be dealt in one or more deals involving those players. General manager Sean Marks has developed a reputation of making deals on draft night, Lewis notes.

We have more draft-related news involving Eastern Conference teams:

  • The Cavaliers continue to field calls with the No. 3 pick, but they’ll keep it unless they get an overwhelming offer, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. If they hold onto it, the Cavs will take USC big man Evan Mobley, assuming Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green are off the board. Cleveland also believes it can put together a package for another lottery pick in the top 10 by dangling some combination of Collin Sexton, Larry Nance Jr. and its 2022 first-rounder.
  • The Heat do not own a draft pick but that could change, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. Miami could not only make a trade, it could also buy a pick with the $5.6MM it has at its disposal for 2020/21 transactions before the NBA calendar flips on Monday.
  • There’s growing speculation among lottery teams picking after the Raptors at No. 4 that they’ll pull a surprise and take Florida State forward Scottie Barnes, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report tweets.  However, Jonathan Givony of ESPN claims in his latest mock draft that the league overwhelmingly expects them to select Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs, so the Raptors could be playing mind games with their competitors.
  • The Pacers brought in Alex Antetokounmpo (Murcia CB in Spain) and Jaquori McLaughlin (UC Santa Barbara) for workouts on Tuesday, according to a team press release.

Draft Rumors: Spurs, Pacers, Knicks, Nets, Duarte, Warriors, More

Reports in recent weeks identified the Nos. 9 and 10 picks in the draft as two of the most available lottery picks. New Orleans agreed on Monday to move the 10th pick to Memphis, while the Kings‘ pick at No. 9 continues to be viewed as available, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

In addition to Sacramento’s pick, the Spurs‘ (No. 12) and Pacers‘ (No. 13) selections are among the lottery choices that could be had, according to Fischer, who suggests that both teams are viewed as candidates to move back into the mid-teens or early 20s if the price is right.

As for which teams picking later in the first round might be looking to move up, Fischer says the Knicks (Nos. 19 and 21), Rockets (Nos. 23 and 24), and Nets (No. 27) fit that bill. Brooklyn has been willing to discuss shooting guard Landry Shamet in trade talks, Fischer adds.

Here are a few more draft-related rumors and notes:

  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report is the latest reporter to indicate that Chris Duarte is unlikely to fall past the No. 15 pick on Thursday. The Lakers are among the teams that have shown interest in Duarte and have looked into possibly moving up in the draft, Wasserman notes.
  • James Bouknight, Duarte, Trey Murphy, and Jonathan Kuminga are among the prospects the Warriors are eyeing, says Wasserman. While Kuminga isn’t necessarily NBA-ready, there’s support for him within Golden State’s front office from those who consider his upside too significant to pass up, Wasserman adds.
  • The Warriors turned down a Knicks offer of the Nos. 19 and 21 picks for the No. 14 selection, per Wasserman.
  • Some teams outside the top 10 believe Michigan forward Franz Wagner has assurances he’ll be selected in the top 10, according to Wasserman. The Kings at No. 9 are considered a strong candidate for Wagner if they keep their pick.
  • Both Wasserman and Matt Babcock of BasketballNews.com continue to suggest the Raptors aren’t a lock to draft Jalen Suggs at No. 4, since the team has done “extensive homework” on Scottie Barnes.
  • Alabama’s Joshua Primo and Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu are two of the prospects Wasserman has heard linked to the Nuggets at No. 26.
  • Alperen Sengun has a good chance of being a lottery pick, according to Babcock, who says the Turkish big man could be picked as high as No. 8 by the Magic.