Markelle Fultz

Southeast Notes: Wizards, M. Williams, Fultz, Krejci, Korver

Josh Robbins of The Athletic takes a look at the Wizards‘ projected depth chart and rotation, predicting that former Nuggets Monte Morris and Will Barton will join Bradley Beal, Kyle Kuzma, and Kristaps Porzingis in the starting five to open the season.

Assuming Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. decides to roll with a 10-man rotation to open the season, Robbins projects Delon Wright, Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura, and Daniel Gafford to be part of the second unit, with either Corey Kispert or Johnny Davis slotting into the second backcourt spot.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Longtime Hornets forward Marvin Williams has rejoined the franchise in a basketball operations role, tweets Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer. In his new position, Williams will assist with player programs and with player development off the court, according to Boone.
  • Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel spoke to Dr. David Lee, a local orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon, to get a sense of how long it might take Magic point guard Markelle Fultz to return from a fractured toe. Lee estimated that Fultz could potentially return to Orlando’s lineup in about four to eight weeks, which would be anywhere from mid-October to mid-November. However, the team hasn’t provided a specific recovery timeline.
  • Hawks head coach Nate McMillan liked what he saw from newly added guard Vit Krejci in the 22-year-old’s first practice with the team on Thursday. “He knows how to play,” McMillan said, per Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). “I think he has a high basketball IQ. We put him right out there. It was good to see him be available to play and practice with our guys today. So that was exciting.”
  • Although Kyle Korver is technically part of the Hawksfront office and not the coaching staff, he has been working with players – including Clint Capela and Jalen Johnson – on their shooting during training camp, as Williams writes in a full story for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (subscription required). “I’ve worked with him quite a few times actually,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “Kyle has helped me make a few adjustments in my shot. You know, having him around has helped a lot. He’s been helping a lot of these guys, giving them pointers and things they can work on, so it’s good.”

Magic Notes: Fultz, Isaac, Bamba, Bol

Point guard Markelle Fultz and forward Jonathan Isaac are viewed by the Magic as cornerstone pieces, but the two former lottery picks haven’t seen much action in recent years. Fultz has appeared in just 26 games since the start of the 2020/21 season, while Isaac hasn’t played at all during that time.

There was some optimism this summer that this would finally be the year both Fultz and Isaac are back in the Magic’s lineup, but it seems that won’t happen right away. According to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link), Isaac is still ramping up and isn’t yet ready for group work, while Fultz – who has a fractured toe – will miss all of training camp and doesn’t yet have a timetable for his return.

It has been a long road back for Isaac in particular — he tore his ACL in 2020 and suffered a setback near the end of his recovery process earlier this year, undergoing a minor procedure in March. However, he told reporters on Monday that he’ll definitely be back on the court this season and that he aims to return sooner rather than later (Twitter link via Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel).

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • Asked on Monday about his decision to re-sign with the Magic this offseason after not receiving a qualifying offer from the team, Mohamed Bamba cited “familiarity” with the franchise as an important factor (video link via Price). “I love the direction that we’re going in as an organization,” Bamba said. “I’m really close with the coaching staff, and that’s across the board. I feel like there’s so much unfinished business here to do.”
  • Bol Bol has yet to play in a game for the Magic, having undergone foot surgery in January before being acquired by Orlando in a February trade. But he’s back on a new contract with the club and told reporters on Monday that he’s fully healthy entering the 2022/23 season (Twitter link via Price).
  • Isaac’s health and Bol’s potential contributions are among the frontcourt questions facing the Magic this season, Price writes for The Orlando Sentinel. Wendell Carter‘s continued progression at both end of the floor will also be important for Orlando as the team looks to incorporate No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, Price adds.

Markelle Fultz To Miss Most Of Camp With Fractured Toe

Magic guard Markelle Fultz suffered a fracture in his left big toe during an offseason workout, the team announced (via Twitter).

Imaging confirmed the injury when Fultz arrived in Orlando. He won’t need surgery, but he’s expected to miss most of training camp, which starts on Tuesday, a source tells Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel.

Fultz is wearing a walking boot and will undergo a program of rehab and treatment. His projected return will depend on how the toe responds.

Injuries have been a recurring problem for the former No. 1 pick, who has played more than 19 games only once in his NBA career. Fultz missed much of last season while recovering from a torn ACL and wasn’t able to return until late February. He got into 18 games and averaged 10.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per night.

Magic Notes: Banchero, Pro-Am, Harris, Fultz

Magic rookie Paolo Banchero entertained his hometown fans Saturday with a 50-point performance at the CrawsOver Pro-Am in Seattle (video link from NBA.com). The overall No. 1 pick teamed up with No. 2 selection Chet Holmgren, who had 34 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in the exhibition.

Banchero has a long relationship with the event’s organizer, former NBA player Jamal Crawford. In a recent appearance with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on their “All The Smoke” podcast, Banchero talked about valuable advice that he received from Crawford (hat tip to Cody Taylor of USA Today’s Rookie Wire).

“Since my freshman year of high school, he has kind of took me under his wing and started taking me to the gym and letting me play in the pro-am, all of the pick-up games and stuff from when I was 15,” Banchero said. “At that time, (the NBA) seemed so far but he was like, ‘High school is going to fly by. It’s closer than you think. You just gotta start getting prepared for it now even though it may seem like it’s far away. You gotta lock in now.’ That put things into perspective and kinda made me take it even that more serious. I was always in the gym working and trying to chase my dream but that’s when I started taking really taking care of my body and doing the right things because he was talking to me about it all of the time.”

There’s more from Orlando:

  • An aiding and abetting charge against Banchero related to a Duke teammate’s drunk driving arrest last year has been dropped, according to Steve Wiseman of The Raleigh News & Observer. Police said Banchero was riding in the back seat and was charged because the vehicle was registered to him.
  • Kevon Harris, who signed a two-way contract with the Magic this week, is thrilled to finally get his shot at the NBA, per Dan Savage of NBA.com. Harris, who went undrafted out of Stephen F. Austin in 2020, played in the G League and spent some time in Croatia over the past two years. The 25-year-old guard is coming off a strong Summer League showing with Minnesota, averaging 15.8 points per game in Las Vegas. “I was able to show that I can do more than just score the basketball,” Harris said. “I feel like that was a stigma on me. I’m able to guard and be very versatile on and off ball. I feel like I was able to show my skillset and everything and show that I belong in the NBA.” 
  • Markelle Fultz, who returned from an ACL tear in late February, can be a positive influence on the rest of Orlando’s young roster, writes Jackson Frank of Uproxx.

Southeast Notes: Fultz, Wizards, McMillan, Hawks

Former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, who spent much of the 2021/22 season recovering from a torn ACL, only ended up appearing in 18 games for the Magic and found himself playing alongside mostly new teammates, given that the roster has been overhauled since he suffered that ACL tear.

However, as Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel writes, Fultz acquitted himself well in his limited action this season, shooting a career-high 47.4% from the field and averaging a career-best 5.5 APG despite logging only 20.0 minutes per contest.

According to Price, in a recent appearance on FM 96.9 The Game’s Open Mike with Mike Bianchi, Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman described Fultz as “exquisitely talented in creating offense for others” and said the team believes he has a “crazy physical package of size and skills and vision.” It sounds like Orlando has big plans going forward for Fultz, who – for his part – was thrilled to feel fully healthy and comfortable during the final couple months of the season.

“I’m honestly the most excited I’ve ever been just to have a summer where I’m not really focused on rehab or recovery and I can really attack my summer head-on,” Fultz said. “I know I have a few goals I want to hit, but this is the summer I can really focus on my summer and enjoy the process.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • The Wizards will have a lottery pick this June, but they’re unlikely to use the draft to add a starting point guard, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington, who says the team figures to turn to free agency or the trade market to find that player.
  • After making the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago, the Hawks were one of the first teams eliminated from this year’s playoffs. Chris Kirschner of The Athletic takes a look at what went wrong in 2021/22 for Atlanta and says that Nate McMillan‘s job security wasn’t a question as of a few days ago — it’s unclear if the way the Hawks’ season ended could change the equation at all, Kirschner writes.
  • In his offseason preview for the Hawks, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) outlines how team ownership’s willingness to pay the luxury tax could impact Danilo Gallinari‘s future and examines the case for extending forward De’Andre Hunter before he reaches restricted free agency in 2023.

Eastern Notes: Beal, Irving, Fultz, Thibodeau

Wizards star Bradley Beal isn’t opposed to receiving interest from rival teams, he said on Draymond Green‘s podcast, as relayed by James Herbert of CBS Sports. Beal will be eligible to sign a five-year, $245MM contract with Washington this summer if he turns down a $36.4MM player option and becomes a free agent.

“I’m kind of embracing everything,” Beal explained, “so I’m not upset about the rumors, I’m not upset about, you know, teams wanting me. I feel like that’s a good thing, right? We put in the work and we’re wanted by a lot of people, not just where we’re at.” 

Beal has seen his name surface in trade rumors, but the 28-year-old hasn’t requested a trade and Washington hasn’t appeared willing to deal him. Beal’s production dipped this season, but he still managed to average 23.2 points and 6.6 assists per game on 45% shooting from the floor.

“It’s kind of funny. I’ve never been a free agent,” he said. “It’s kind of reminding me of college recruiting. Like I hear every single game somebody’s recruiting me. Someone’s like tagging on me, whether it’s another player or whether it may be a coach or whoever it may be, somebody’s chit-chatting: ‘B, what you want to do this summer? What you doing this summer?'”

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference:

  • In an Insider-only story for ESPN.com, Kirk Goldsberry considers what Kyrie Irving‘s full-time availability will mean for the Nets and their title chances. As Goldsberry notes, while Irving certainly makes Brooklyn’s offensive attack more dangerous, the team’s defense remains a question mark.
  • Magic guard Markelle Fultz is starting to feel more comfortable just one month after his return, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel writes. Fultz missed more than a year due to a torn ACL, making his debut on February 28 against the Pacers. He most recently finished with 16 points, three assists and three steals in 19 minutes against the Kings on Saturday, showing potential on both sides of the ball.
  • Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau is offended by claims that he’s stunted Obi Toppin‘s growth by not giving him enough minutes, plus that he mistreated Kemba Walker, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Thibodeau also lashed out at some social media critics and writers. “It’s a team, not an individual thing,” he exclaimed. “Can’t pick up a box score after and say, ‘How many people are watching to the end of the game’ to really know exactly what happened in the game. I see a lot of opinions, but I don’t see guys doing the work to actually study it.’’ 

Magic Notes: Rotation Changes, Ross, Fultz, M. Wagner

Magic coach Jamahl Mosley plans to experiment with different lineups for the rest of the season, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. The recent returns of R.J. Hampton and Markelle Fultz from injuries give Mosley more options to work with in juggling his rotations.

“These last [17] games are about finding different combinations that work together,” Mosley said. “We want to make sure these guys understand … different minutes and different opportunities for guys that haven’t played.”

One change that has taken place since the All-Star break, Price points out, is less reliance on the combination of Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs and Gary Harris. Mosley had them on the court together frequently after Suggs returned from a fractured thumb in mid-January, and the team was outscored by 31.4 points per 100 possessions in those minutes. Price notes that the three players haven’t been used together at all in the four games since the break, with Hampton seeing more time in three-guard lineups.

There’s more from Orlando:

  • Terrence Ross was a healthy scratch Friday night for the first time all season, Price adds. Ross was mentioned frequently in rumors ahead of last month’s trade deadline, but the Magic opted to keep him. “Terrence doesn’t get in the game because it gives another guy an opportunity,” Mosley said. “That’s one thing we’re going to continue to look at for the rest of these games: Different lineups, different rotations, certain guys will play, certain guys may not, but it’s a great way for our guys to learn and gain experiences. It’s finding out what it looks like from game to game. It’s a conversation game to game. These guys are willing and understand … they want their brothers to succeed, they want their brothers to get better. They’re very supportive in whichever way we go about it.”
  • Even though Fultz is healthy, it appears the Magic don’t plan to use him in both nights of back-to-backs. Fultz sat out Friday’s game at Toronto, but is expected to be active tonight in Memphis, the team announced (via Twitter). He has played twice since returning Monday from an ACL injury that sidelined him for more than a year, averaging 10.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 15.5 minutes of action.
  • Moritz Wagner isn’t on tonight’s injury report, so he may play after missing the past nine games with a left rib contusion, Price tweets.

Southeast Notes: Heat Buyout Approach, Gafford, Fultz, Porzingis

The Heat have been active in the buyout market in past years and they could fill their open roster spot will a veteran in the coming weeks, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. Miami could look to add a power forward if Markieff Morris remains out or wait to see if another rotation player gets injured. Winderman doesn’t expect the Heat to fill the spot with a long-term prospect as they did with Kendrick Nunn three years ago or Omer Yurtseven last season, since they’re focused on winning a championship this season.

We have more info on the Southeast Division:

  • Daniel Gafford has long-term security after signing an extension that runs through the 2025/26 season. However, the Wizards big man had to be patient to regain a starting role, Josh Robbins of The Athletic writes. Following a bout with COVID, he replaced Thomas Bryant in the starting five on Friday and produced 17 points and six rebounds  in 29 minutes. “There was a lot of frustration, but at the end of the day, I wanted to be a good teammate. I didn’t want to wear my feelings on my sleeves,” Gafford said. “There was times where I did, but at the end of the day, I can’t bring that negative energy around the team. So I apologized to the team for that, the times that I did do it.”
  • Markelle Fultz made his season debut tonight. It’s the end of a long hard road of rehab for the Magic guard, who tore his ACL last season. “It’s been a long time coming,” Fultz told Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s been a long time of just all the hard work I put in. All those tough days, I did it for this moment right here, just to be able to go out there and be able to compete. Just happy. Not many words I can express it.”
  • Though Kristaps Porzingis doesn’t appear to be close to making his Wizards debut, coach Wes Unseld Jr. said they’re not thinking about shutting him down for the season, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports. “You hope that at some point you don’t see the effects they are concerned with and we can kind of expedite the return. But until that point, we’re going to treat it day-to-day and hope that he responds well,” Unseld said. Porzingis has already been ruled out of Tuesday’s game against Detroit due to knee soreness.

Markelle Fultz To Return On Monday

Magic guard Markelle Fultz announced that he’ll return to action on Monday, the team’s PR department tweets.

Fultz will be making his season debut after rehabbing from an ACL injury to his left knee suffered early last season. He had been practicing off and on with the team since December and is finally return to step on the court again. He appeared in just eight games last season but suffering the tear in early January 2021.

Fultz’s three-year, $50MM contract extension kicked in at the beginning of this season.

The Magic already have some young pieces in the backcourt in Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs and R.J. Hampton, so it will be interesting to see how Fultz, the top pick in the 2017 draft, will fit in for the remainder of this season. Hampton returned to action on Friday after missing 14 games due to a knee sprain.

Southeast Notes: Morris, McMillan, Hunter, Magic

Heat power forward Markieff Morris, who has been sidelined since suffering a neck injury thanks to a hard foul from Nuggets center Nikola Jokic on November 8, will have to fight to gain back rotational time he has lost, opines writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Winderman notes that Miami opted to bring in Morris as the first backup power forward behind starter P.J. Tucker in the 10 games this season when Morris was healthy, but that the team may consider small-ball lineups with versatile reserve wings Caleb Martin or Max Strus playing nominal power forward minutes for the Heat.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks head coach Nate McMillan reflected on his time in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and away from his players, per Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. McMillan recently cleared protocols and has returned to coaching the team. “I’ve never had to go through anything like that,” McMillan said. “To coach during this time with COVID, some of my guys, it’s been close to a month since I’ve seen them.” The Hawks, who had 13 players in the protocols at one point in late December, are currently 17-22, the No. 12 seed in the East.
  • Hawks small forward De’Andre Hunter is nearing his return to the team, according to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic (Twitter link), who reports that Hunter played in a full five-on-five team practice today. Trainers must green-light Hunter’s return to game action, which could happen as soon as tomorrow against the Heat, per head coach Nate McMillan. Hunter underwent surgery on his right wrist in mid-November. In 11 contests with Atlanta this season, he averaged 10.8 PPG on .450/.395/.400 shooting, along with 2.7 RPG and 0.6 SPG.
  • Young Magic point guards Jalen Suggs and Markelle Fultz have resumed practicing with the team, according to Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. Power forward Jonathan Isaac, who has been absent since tearing his ACL in August 2020, is inching towards a return of his own, though Suggs and Fultz appear closer to rejoining their Orlando teammates on the hardwood. Fultz tore his left ACL early in the 2020/21 NBA season and has been absent ever since. Suggs continues to wear a splint for the fractured thumb on his right hand. Exact return timelines for Suggs and Fultz have not been determined.