Jonathan Isaac

Eastern Rumors: Beasley, Embiid, Oubre, Tolliver

Journeyman forward Michael Beasley would like to return to the Knicks, but several factors play into that equation, as Marc Berman of the New York Post examines. Beasley returns to the free agent market this summer and has expressed a desire to stay put. “I would love to be back definitely. A lot goes into that,” he told Berman. “We’ll assess the situation in summertime.” The Knicks would likely have to use a portion of their mid-level exception to retain him. However, they could opt to spend it on a younger player or save cap space for the following summer, Berman continues. Their desire to re-sign Beasley also hinges on who will be coaching the team next season, Berman adds.

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Sixers’ playoff appearance will likely be a one-and-done experience if Joel Embiid can’t return for the first round, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer opines.  The center’s participation is uncertain due to a concussion and a fractured orbital bone near his left eye. The Sixers have outscored opponents by 11.6 points per possession when he plays and outscored by 3.9 points when he doesn’t play, Pompey notes. The team doesn’t have anyone to match up with the Pacers’ mobile center, Myles Turner, if they face Indiana in the first round without Embiid, Pompey adds.
  • Kelly Oubre has been buried in a shooting slump but his subpar defense is the thing that could reduce the Wizards forward’s playing time, according to Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. Coach Scott Brooks criticized Oubre’s defense following a loss to the lottery-bound Bulls on Sunday. “He hasn’t shot the ball well, but I’m more concerned about him getting blown by on defense,” Brooks told Buckner and other media members. “Seems like every time his man is scoring on him. He has to step up and start playing some defense if he wants to continue to play.”
  • Pistons veteran power forward Anthony Tolliver has added elements to his game this season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com reports. “It’s really amazing the way he has been able to improve, particularly offensively,”coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Now when people close out on him, he can put the ball on the floor and attack. Not too many guys improve after 30.” Tolliver returns to the free agent market in July after signing a one-year deal with Detroit last summer.
  • Magic lottery pick Jonathan Isaac is gaining confidence in his 3-point shooting, George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel writes. Isaac attempted a season-high six attempts from long range against the Hawks on Sunday and made half of them. “Throughout the entire season they’ve been telling me let it fly, especially from the corner 3.” Isaac told Diaz.

Southeast Notes: Ellington, Payton, Isaac, Hawks

The Heat would almost certainly have to go into the luxury tax to re-sign Wayne Ellington, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Ellington will be a free agent again after accepting a one-year, $6.3MM deal last summer. He has a chance to set the franchise record for 3-pointers in a season, but team president Pat Riley operates under a policy of only paying the tax when the Heat can contend for a title. Miami will be well over the salary cap next season, with more than $116MM already committed.

The Heat may not have a significant role for Ellington even if he does re-sign, Winderman adds. Dion Waiters should be fully recovered from ankle surgery, and Dwyane Wade will probably return for another season. Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruder and Justise Winslow will also be competing for wing minutes.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Suns guard Elfrid Payton has a reunion in Orlando Saturday night, seeing his former Magic teammates for the first time since being traded last month, relays Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Payton got a warm greeting from the crowd before the game and from the Orlando players afterward. “A lot of people asked me, ‘Do I still talk to any of those guys?’ We’re still talking all the time,” Payton said. “They support me a lot, want me to do well, and the feeling is mutual. I’ve been through the trenches with those guys, been through a lot of things and a lot of ups and downs. Seeing them go through ups and downs — those types of things build relationships that last forever.”
  • A lingering ankle injury wiped out much of his rookie season, but Magic forward Jonathan Isaac has done enough to keep the Magic excited about his future, notes James Blancarte of Basketball Insiders. “His defense is out of this world. I mean it’s really something else,” coach Frank Vogel said. “Just watch him play and everybody’s getting a taste of it right now. They haven’t seen him a whole lot but he’s an elite defender right now at 20 years old and the sky’s the limit for what he can be on that end of the floor.”
  • The Hawks will reap the benefits of their decision to rebuild, starting with this year’s draft, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Atlanta currently projects to have four picks in the top 35 and sits in third place in our latest Reverse Standings. The team could have up to $30MM in cap space available and will be in the market for a third point guard and a combo forward.

Southeast Notes: Spoelstra, Prince, Gordon/Isaac, Johnson

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is excited about the prospect of getting the team’s two-way players, Derrick Jones Jr. and Derrick Walton, back with the team this weekend, reports Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.

With the G League regular season concluding tomorrow, the 45-day restriction upon two-way players is lifted, freeing them to return to the NBA for the remainder of the regular season. Jones Jr. is back with the Heat for tonight’s game against Oklahoma City, with Walton joining the team before Sunday’s game in Indiana. As for the two-way system itself, Spoelstra is a fan, even though he thinks a few issues need ironing out.

“The system is a little bit clumsy, but I’m sure we’ll iron that all out in years to come. I’m a big fan of the two-way contract. I think it’s good for teams, it’s good for the player. We’ve seen the benefits of developing our guys with us (the Heat), but also getting those guys a lot of game reps in our culture, in Sioux Falls.”

Jones Jr., 21, is averaging 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds in 29.1 minutes per game this season for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the Heat’s G League affiliate, while also starting eight games for the Heat during the team’s struggle through injuries. Asked whether his development is of importance to the team, Spoelstra said of course:

“Absolutely. We always envision where a player can go. We do that with an open mind and a commitment to our player development. He’s improved this year with us and that’s worth noting, because he’s committed to our (the Heat’s) process. I think he has to break into this program as a defensive-minded player. That’s really where his potential is. It’s been very intentional that we try to get him on the best wing opponent every night and really embrace that challenge regardless of how many minutes he plays and what his offensive responsibility is. He has to guard, he has to be able to impact on that side of the floor. And that got better. It still has a long ways to go, but he’s starting to understand where he can break through.”

As we’ve noted generally before, neither Jones Jr. nor Walton are playoff-eligible for the Heat unless signed to a standard contract before the final game of the regular season. This is unlikely as Miami already has 15 players on its roster.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks‘ forward Taurean Prince has improved his three-point prowess throughout his career, but no more so than this season, writes Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype, where he is shooting 40.4% from behind the stripe.
  • The Magic are excited to be able to play versatile forwards Aaron Gordon and rookie Jonathan Isaac together for the remainder of this season, writes John Denton of NBA.com.
  • Just in time for the playoffs, James Johnson is finally realizing the level of play the Heat expected when they signed him to a lucrative contract this summer, Winderman adds in another piece.

Southeast Notes: Walker, Hawks, Isaac, Wall

The Hornets have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA this year. Expected to make the playoffs and owing a payroll nearing $120MM, a seldom few could have foreseen a 29-38 record through the first week and a half of March and the word “rebuild” come into the picture.

And according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, team leader and All-Star point guard Kemba Walker isn’t sure he’s prepared to undergo another rebuilding effort in Charlotte. “I’m not sure. Nobody wants to lose. Especially not me,” Walker said at practice Friday, following the Hornets’ fifth consecutive loss.

Walker, who was part of a Bobcats team (before becoming the Hornets) that went 7-59 in his rookie season, has one season left on his contract, which will pay him a team-friendly $12MM, making him a hot commodity on the trade market this summer. When asked about what the offseason may have in store, he added, “I haven’t thought about any of that. It’s something I’ve got to deal with whenever it happens. It’s just not something that has come up to me.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders takes a look at how the bottom-dwelling Hawks can go about their rebuilding efforts in a positive way. Davies opines that Atlanta is already ahead of the curve due to focusing on giving their young core of Taurean Prince and rookie big man John Collins valuable playing time and experience at the expense of veterans. The next step is bringing in a young, talented front court player such as Mohamed Bamba or DeAndre Ayton to pair with Collins.
  • Magic rookie Jonathan Isaac is trying to stay patient through the rustiness associated with returning from an injury, writes John Denton of the team’s official website. Isaac, who missed four months with an ankle injury, still has the confidence of head coach Frank Vogel, who said, “(Isaac) is a 20-year-old young man who is still finding his way on the offensive end. I encouraged him to be more aggressive than he’s been. To his credit, he plays within himself, but there’s going to be some growing pains that come along with that. I was just happy with the spirit that he played with (on Friday).”
  • The Wizards still don’t know when to expect All-Star point guard John Wall back from injury, but per an AP report (via USA Today), Wall is looking to closer to form after working out on the floor in Miami about a half-hour before the Wizards visited the Heat on Saturday night.

Magic Notes: Isaac, Gordon, Vucevic, Ross

As we relayed on Thursday, rookie Magic forward Jonathan Isaac is on track to play on Friday night for the first time in 2018. Speaking today to reporters, head coach Frank Vogel confirmed that Isaac will make his return to the court, but cautioned that last year’s sixth overall pick will be on a minutes limit. As Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel tweets, Isaac will play about 15 minutes in his first game back from an ankle injury.

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • Aaron Gordon recently admitted that it’s a challenge to stay in the present and not think about his upcoming free agency, as John Denton of the team’s official site writes. “Of course, of course, I worry,” said Gordon, who will be a restricted free agent in July. “It’s natural and it’s human to worry. But you work on your mentality so that you can enjoy the present moment instead of worrying. If you’re so caught up in what’s happened or what’s going to happen, you can’t fully enjoy what’s happening right now.”
  • Elsewhere at the Magic’s official site, Dan Savage takes an in-depth look at Nikola Vucevic‘s recovery from a broken bone in his hand, detailing how even a fairly common injury for an NBA player can result in a long, arduous rehab process. Vucevic, who suffered the injury just before Christmas, returned to action after the All-Star break.
  • Speaking of injured Magic players, Terrence Ross – who has been on the shelf since the end of November with a knee injury – had a small setback in February and is probably still a few weeks away from returning, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel wrote earlier this week.

Jonathan Isaac Set To Return Friday For Magic

Sidelined for most of his rookie season by an ankle injury, power forward Jonathan Isaac is on track to return for the Magic on Friday night against the Pistons, head coach Frank Vogel said today after practice (Twitter link via Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel).

Isaac, 20, was selected sixth overall in the 2017 draft by Orlando and played a part-time role for the club over the season’s first month. However, a sprained ankle sustained on November 11 sidelined him until mid-December. Isaac appeared in three of five games after returning their action, then went back on the shelf indefinitely due to that nagging ankle issue.

In total, Isaac has appeared in just 15 games so far this season, averaging 5.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 1.0 BPG in 19.0 minutes per contest. Viewed as a raw prospect with upside, the former Florida State standout isn’t expected to be an immediate difference-maker for the Magic, which is probably good news for a club currently tied for the league’s worst record. Assuming he’s healthy going forward, Isaac should get a chance to play regular minutes down the stretch without Orlando having to worry that he’ll single-handedly drag the team to a few extra wins.

With Aaron Gordon and Mario Hezonja already earning plenty of minutes at the four, it remains to be seen how Vogel and the Magic will use Isaac down the stretch. While he figures to be on a minutes limit at first, Isaac may end up playing alongside Gordon or Hezonja in order to get regular playing time during the season’s final few weeks.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/25/18

Here are Sunday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA.

  • The Magic recalled forward Jonathan Isaac from their Lakeland affiliate, according to Orlando’s PR Twitter. Isaac, who missed almost three months with an ankle injury, saw his first game action this weekend for the G League squad and is now rejoining the NBA team.
  • The Suns assigned Davon Reed to the Northern Arizona Suns, tweets Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports. In seven games with the G League squad, Reed has averaged 11.6 PPG and 5.0 RPG.
  • The Warriors assigned Damian Jones to their G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, the team announced in a press release. Jones has appeared in 36 games with Santa Cruz, averaging 15.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.1 APG and 2.17 BPG.
  • The Thunder have recalled center Dakari Johnson for their G League squad, the Oklahoma City Blue, the team announced in a press release. Jones has posted 15.2 PPG, 10.1 RPG, and 2.9 APG in seven games.

Florida Notes: Wade, Johnson, Isaac

Dwyane Wade said the Heat can make a strong push toward postseason success if the team relies on its big men to be aggressive offensively, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes.

In his lone season with the Bulls and half a season with the Cavaliers, Wade did not have the luxury of a dominant presence in the paint. In Chicago, Robin Lopez was the primary center; in Cleveland, Kevin Love was more of an outside player. If the Heat bigs can play with the presence of past Wade-led teams in South Beach, he expects good results.

“When you got bigs like Hassan [Whiteside] and you got bigs like Bam [Adebayo] rolling to the basket, when they’re setting screens, you’re going to get into the paint,” Wade said. “Either all the way to the rim, some guys floaters, some guys pull-ups and lobs. Me, especially, I’m just getting back comfortable with it.”

Check out other news and notes from Florida’s NBA teams:

  • Tyler Johnson has played well since the Heat returned from the All-Star break, In two games back, Johnson posted 15 points in a loss to the Pelicans and 23 points in a win over the Grizzlies. He is 12 for 22 from the field in that stretch. Johnson admitted his struggles before the break were due to pressing for results, per the Sun-Sentinel. “I think before the break, I was settling for too many jumpers and trying to shoot my way out of a funk instead of doing what I do best [and] being an attacker,” Johnson said.
  • Jonathan Isaac has seen limited action in two G League contests with the Lakeland Magic as he resumes his comeback from an ankle injury. NBA.com’s Josh Cohen writes that Isaac is happy to shake off the rust with Lakeland before returning to Orlando. “I think it’s great, just getting back into things,” Isaac said. “I don’t take this time that I’m here for granted. I can still see I’m rusty. I missed some reads and stuff like that on defense and not being 100 percent there. Definitely will take this time for what it is.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/23/18

Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA.

  • The Lakers recalled rookie center Thomas Bryant from the South Bay Lakers, according to the G League team’s Twitter feed. Thomas has averaged 19.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in 28 games with South Bay.
  • The Magic reassigned forward Jonathan Isaac to their Lakeland affiliate, according to Orlando’s PR Twitter. Isaac,  who missed almost three months with an ankle injury, is expected to see his first game action this weekend for the G League squad.
  • The Spurs assigned rookie guard Derrick White to the Austin Spurs, according to a team press release. He has averaged 15.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 2.6 APG in 13 games with Austin.
  • The Suns assigned Davon Reed to the Northern Arizona Suns, tweets Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports. In seven games with the G League squad, Reed has averaged 10.9 PPG and 5.3 RPG.
  • The Cavaliers assigned guard Marcus Thornton to the G League’s Canton Charge, according to a team press release. Thornton has averaged 18.8 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 37 games with Canton.
  • The Thunder have assigned center Dakari Johnson to the G League affiliate Oklahoma City Blue, per a team press release. Johnson has appeared in five games with the Blue, averaging 24.2 PPG and 10.4 RPG.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/22/18

Here are Thursday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA.

  • The Cavaliers have recalled rookie center Ante Zizic from their Canton affiliate, the team announced on its website. In 15 games for the Charge, Zizic has averaged 15.7 PPG and 8.9 RPG.
  • The Magic assigned forward Jonathan Isaac to their Lakeland affiliate, according to Orlando’s PR Twitter. Isaac will attend Lakeland’s practice but he is expected to be recalled back to Orlando before the team faces the Knicks on Thursday. Isaac, who has missed almost three months with an ankle injury, is expected to see his first game action tomorrow for the G League squad.
  • The Heat have assigned guard Rodney McGruder to their G League affiliate, the Sioux City Skyforce, the team announced in a press release. McGruder has not appeared in a regular season game after undergoing surgery on a  left tibia stress fracture in mid-October. He is expected to play two G League games on Saturday and Monday before making his NBA return, tweets Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald.
  • The Lakers assigned rookie center Thomas Bryant to the South Bay Lakers for their upcoming two-game road trip, according to the G League team’s Twitter feed. Thomas has averaged 19.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in 27 games with South Bay.
  • The Timberwolves have assigned rookie center Justin Patton to the G League’s Iowa Wolves, according to the team (Twitter link). Patton has yet to make his NBA debut but has averaged 11.9 PPG for Iowa in 25 games.