Jonathan Isaac

Magic Notes: DSJ, Isaac, Gordon, Vucevic

It’s unclear how serious the Dennis Smith Jr. trade talks between the Magic and Mavericks have gotten, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. However, at least one rival NBA front office official believes Smith would make a lot of sense as a target for Orlando.

“Their priority should be a starting point guard,” the official said of the Magic. “Those guys don’t grow on trees, and Dennis Smith is pretty alluring because when are you going to get (a starting point guard otherwise)?”

As Robbins observes, there will be a couple intriguing point guard prospects – Murray State’s Ja Morant and Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland – near the top of the draft, but it’s not clear if the Magic will pick high enough to have a shot at either one — and the point guard class isn’t particularly strong after those two. Currently, Orlando ranks seventh in our 2018/19 Reverse Standings.

Robbins doesn’t go too in-depth on potential free agent targets for the Magic, but suggests it seems “unrealistic” that the team will land a marquee point guard in free agency. Most of 2019’s top free agent point guards are either restricted free agents (like D’Angelo Russell and Terry Rozier) or aren’t expected to consider Orlando (Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker).

Here’s more on the Magic from Robbins:

  • Within his discussion of the DSJ rumors, Robbins notes that the Mavericks were interested in Jonathan Isaac in 2017, but Orlando remains “strongly disinclined to give him up.” The Magic also haven’t shown any signs that they’re willing to trade Aaron Gordon, sources tell Robbins.
  • Exploring the possibility of a Nikola Vucevic trade, Robbins wonders what sort of impact a Vooch trade would have on the long-term development of Isaac, Gordon, and Mohamed Bamba. Robbins also questions whether the Magic would trade Vucevic in a deal for a first-round pick that falls outside of the lottery and wouldn’t necessarily change the club’s long-term outlook significantly.
  • In a separate story on the Magic, Robbins posits that the franchise hasn’t found a “star-quality player” to replace Dwight Howard since losing him back in 2012. Head coach Steve Clifford drew attention to the star-shaped hole on Orlando’s roster after Wednesday’s loss to Brooklyn, pointing out that the Magic don’t have a player who can be relied upon to score a basket or make a play in crunch time. “It’s the most important thing that you can have in any NBA game: a guy that can go get a shot or create help so his teammate gets a shot,” Clifford said. “It’s the No. 1 thing that you want.”

Southeast Notes: Huerter, Beal, Prince, Isaac

The Hawks are in the early stages of a rebuild. Having brought in a new coaching staff and with a new focus on player development, it has been very encouraging for the team to see Kevin Huerter break out in recent weeks. After slowly adjusting to the NBA, Huerter has received more playing time as of late and has been productive in his role. Chris Kirschner of The Athletic details Huerter’s recent stretch of play and what it means for the Hawks’ future.

For the season, Huerter is averaging 8.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while knocking down 38% of his 3-pointers. However, in January the 20-year-old guard is averaging 15 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game while playing 38 minutes per contest.

As Huerter continues to develop alongside Trae Young and John Collins, it’s clear that the Hawks have quality young talent to grow and develop for years to come.

There’s more from the Southeast division:

Magic Exercise 2019/20 Option On Jonathan Isaac

The Magic have picked up their third-year team option on Jonathan Isaac‘s rookie contract, the team announced today in a press release. The option covers the 2019/20 season.

Isaac, who will turn 21 next Wednesday, appeared in just 27 games for the Magic in his rookie season, with his playing time limited by injuries and lineup decisions. However, the former sixth overall pick is considered a key part of Orlando’s long-term future, having been the first player drafted by the team’s current management group.

By exercising Isaac’s option, the Magic lock him in for the 2019/20 season with a $5.81MM cap charge. The young power forward also has a fourth-year option worth $7.36MM for 2020/21 — the club will have to make a decision on that option next fall before Isaac becomes extension-eligible in the summer of 2020.

Isaac’s was the only 2019/20 option the Magic had to make a decision on. The full list of rookie scale options decisions for ’19/20 can be found right here.

Southeast Notes: Gordon, Isaac, Wizards

The Magic have a pile of intriguing, raw projects on board but the only way that those will help them win games this season is if the best among them – 22-year-old Aaron Gordon – takes the next step in his development.

As John Denton of the team’s official site writes, the Magic desperately need Gordon to take another big leap. He had a fantastic start to the 2017/18 season but didn’t finish as strong down the stretch.  They’ll also need him to prove that he can hold up over the course of a full season.

Sharing forward responsibilities with Gordon is sophomore Jonathan Isaac. The club, Denton writes, would be delighted if the 20-year-old could simply establish himself as a defensive force that runs the floor.

There’s more out of the Southeast tonight:

  • The Wizards may be the front runners to win their division, a Basketball Insiders panel concludes, but they’ll need the team to stay healthy and avoid any chemistry concerns. It will be on head coach Scott Brooks to balance all the skill sets and personalities on the payroll.
  • The Hornets will once again find themselves in NBA purgatory as it it’s still unclear whether the franchise aims to rebuild or make a desperate attempt to be competitive. Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders suspects that the next few months should shed light on what general manager Mitch Kupchak might be thinking.
  • Get a complete breakdown of the players whose draft rights are held by teams in the Southeast Division… but Magic fans, don’t hold your breath for that Fran Vazquez signing. We also have lists for the other five divisions.

Southeast Notes: Anderson, Young, Go-Go, Magic Big Men

The Heat aren’t particularly interested in acquiring Rockets forward Ryan Anderson, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. A rumored trade that would involve the Houston power forward and a draft pick in exchange for either Tyler Johnson or James Johnson doesn’t appeal to Miami’s front office, Jackson continues. Anderson has a higher salary than both of those players, so bringing him in would worsen the team’s luxury-tax issues. Additionally, even though James Johnson has three years left on his deal compared to Anderson’s two remaining seasons, Miami values his versatility, Jackson adds.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Rookie Trae Young realizes the commitment the Hawks made to him by trading starting point guard Dennis Schroder to the Thunder, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. While Young was non-committal about whether he or Jeremy Lin should start, Young knows he’ll get ample playing time. “Obviously when they move the point guard they’ve had for a while, their starting point guard, it definitely opened my eyes,” Young told Vivlamore. “It shows how much they are committed to me. Bringing Jeremy in as well is a good fit for us. I know there is a lot on my plate.”
  • The Wizards’ new G League team, the Capital City Go-Go, will share the same practice facility as the NBA team. The G League team’s GM, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, sees that as an incentive for his players, as he explained to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington“I think it’s going to help motivate these guys. We’re going to be practicing in the same place that the Wizards do and the Mystics do,” Mensah-Bonsu said. “I think if these guys can see Dwight Howard and John Wall and Bradley Beal walking around every day, it will help motivate them to get to that next level.”
  • The Magic are bucking the league trend by building around big men, as Nick Zappulla of RealGM details. The trio of rookie Mo Bamba, Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon provide versatility and game-changing ability on both ends of the floor, Zappulla adds.

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 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
  • 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.