Markelle Fultz

Southeast Notes: Kuzma, Fultz, Lowry, Thor

Kyle Kuzma has been a hot name on the trade market, though the latest reports have indicated that the Wizards would prefer to keep him through the deadline in an attempt to re-sign him in free agency. The 27-year-old forward says he loves playing with Kristaps Porzingis and Bradley Beal, and that will factor into his decision this summer.

It plays into it a lot,” Kuzma told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter video link). “I love playing with those guys. I see how easy it is for me, but this is something I’m not really thinking about right now. I’m so far away from it.”

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Markelle Fultz has made a major impact on the defensive end since he made his season debut at the end of November, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscriber link). “Just playing hard man,” he said. “Just giving all my effort while I’m on the court. Whether that’s ball pressure or trying to dive on the floor for a loose ball, I’m just trying to find any little way to give our team an advantage.” Fultz is averaging a career-high 1.7 steals per contest, per Price, who notes that the 24-year-old doesn’t gamble much while playing disruptive defense. The Magic have gone 12-12 in games Fultz has played and 5-16 without him.
  • Heat point guard Kyle Lowry recently returned from a four-game absence due to knee soreness. He says it’s been bothering him for a while, but hopes resting it resolved the issue, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “It was good to just get myself right,” said Lowry. “My knee has been a little bit bothering me for a while. So it was good to get back. …I feel good. I feel pretty good right now and hopefully it doesn’t re-occur, and we just kind of build on that. You keep the body right and keep the mind sharp.”
  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford is a fan of JT Thor‘s team-first mentality and defense, but he admits his rotations have the second-year forward in an unenviable position, as Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer relays. “The guy to be honest with you, who to a certain degree is getting screwed, is JT Thor,” Clifford said. “I’m subbing him in a way — and he knows it and his teammates know it — just so we can keep more balanced lineups on the floor. He’s playing four minutes sometimes, three minutes sometimes. You can’t possibly be productive offensively with those minutes. He gets the minutes, but the way they are broken up, there’s no way. When I told him that, he said, ‘Hey, I know this isn’t about me.’ So, that’s why he has a chance to be a good player.”

Magic Notes: F. Wagner, Fultz, Anthony, Banchero

It was easy to focus on Franz Wagner, who scored a season-high 34 points Friday and put the Magic ahead to stay with a late layup, but the win over the Raptors was a victory for the offensive system that coach Jamahl Mosley has brought to Orlando, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel.

The team executed Mosley’s game plan as well as it has all season, Price observes. The Magic shot almost 60% from the field against Toronto and posted an offensive rating of 116.5, its best in nearly a month.

“This game shows it works, what the coaches are telling us,” Wagner said. “They’re telling us to get to the paint and make decisions from there. Toronto’s really good at collapsing to the paint and defending the rim. That second and third action is when you get baskets at the rim most of the time. It’s a credit to how we moved the basketball around and let everybody touch it throughout a possession.”

There’s more from Orlando:

  • The Magic have back-to-back wins and have been playing better since Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony returned from injuries in late November, Price adds. The team now has two more ball-handlers who can generate offense for themselves and their teammates. “We continue to learn each other,” Fultz said. “Guys are starting to realize that’s the way our team can play. We’re young, athletic and we want to make everybody a threat. We’ve been doing it over the last few games, I just think [Friday] you’ve seen results of making shots and getting the shots we wanted. Something we got to continue to build on. We still had a few too many turnovers but it’s all about getting a little better each and every day.”
  • On Wednesday, the Magic fell behind 21-6 early in the game before rallying to beat the Clippers in overtime. The comeback was sparked by defense, which could have positive implications moving forward, Price suggests in a separate story. “It was very important for us because it showed when we lock in on defense and do everything correctly, we could definitely be a good defensive team,” Bol Bol said. “All of our defense led to fast-break points and easy offense. As long as we focus on our defense, that’ll translate to offense.”
  • After meeting with Paolo Banchero, Italian Basketball Federation President Gianni Petrucci believes there’s a “60% chance” the rookie forward will choose to play for Italy in international competitions, per Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony Set To Return For Magic

The Magic will get some reinforcements in their backcourt when they host the Hawks on Wednesday, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel, who reports that guards Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony will be available for the game.

Fultz has yet to play at all this season due to a fractured toe that he suffered in September, right before training camps began. Anthony, meanwhile, has been dealing with a right internal oblique injury that has sidelined him since October 26. He has played just four games so far in 2022/23.

Fultz and Anthony were expected to play major roles in Orlando’s backcourt this season. In their absences, the team has leaned more heavily on Jalen Suggs at point guard, with R.J. Hampton also playing an increased role. Suggs and Hampton, along with rookie wing Caleb Houstan, are candidates to see their minutes cut back a little now that the Magic are getting healthier.

It will be a big year for Fultz, since the former No. 1 overall pick doesn’t have a fully guaranteed salary for the 2023/24 season. With just $2MM of his $17MM cap hit guaranteed for next season, he’ll be looking to stay healthy and secure a place in the Magic’s future plans. Injuries have limited Fultz to just 98 games since he arrived in Orlando in February 2019, and only 131 since he was drafted in 2017.

Anthony has a guaranteed contract for ’23/24, but it’s an important season for him too, since he’ll become eligible for a rookie scale extension during the 2023 offseason.

Markelle Fultz Could Make 2022/23 Debut On Sunday

Magic guard Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 draft, could make his 2022/23 season debut on Sunday against the Sixers, per Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscription required).

The 24-year-old has missed the first 19 games of the season after fracturing his left big toe in late September, right before training camp opened. However, he was able to practice on Wednesday and he’s been upgraded from out to questionable for Sunday’s game, as Price relays.

A couple weeks ago, Price reported that Fultz hoped to return in the next three-to-four weeks, so a Sunday return would be a little ahead of schedule for that timeline. Still, he’s only listed as questionable, not probable or available, so there’s no guarantee that he’ll actually play, though it’s certainly encouraging that his return appears imminent.

Injuries have been a major factor in Fultz’s career, limiting him to just 131 games over five-plus seasons, including 18 in ’21/22 after recovering from a torn ACL. He averaged 10.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.1 steals in 20.0 minutes last season.

Fultz will earn a guaranteed $16.5MM this season, but his $17MM salary for ’23/24 is only partially guaranteed at $2MM, so how he performs upon his return will likely have a significant impact on whether he’s in Orlando’s future plans. The Magic have dealt with a number of injuries to key rotation players this season and are currently 5-14, the third-worst record in the NBA.

Magic’s Markelle Fultz Hopes To Return In 3-4 Weeks

Former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz has yet to play in the 2022/23 season after fracturing his left big toe just before training camp started in late September. The Magic guard still has some hurdles to clear before returning to action, but he’s pain-free and hopes to return to action in the next three-to-four weeks, reports Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscriber link).

Fultz says feels “ready to play” right now, but his last scan revealed that his toe wasn’t fully healed, according to Price.

I haven’t felt anything for a minute so it’s kind of weird because I didn’t feel anything before my last scan and then it came back it healed some but not to their liking,” Fultz said. “So hopefully this next scan is fully healed and I’m able to get the green light to get a few practices under my belt and go out there and play.”

Fultz has been doing light on-court work after being cleared to stop using his walking boot last week.

I just don’t do a lot of contact play,” Fultz said, per Price. “I’m doing a little contact in my drills but not full. That’s pretty much it. I can pretty much do everything except I’m not doing 1-on-1 or 4-on-4 or stuff like that yet.

I still [am] cutting, dribbling, shooting, jumping — I just haven’t done it against another player, full-on bumping and stuff like that.”

As Price notes, injuries have been a major factor in Fultz’s career, limiting him to just 131 games over five-plus seasons, including 18 in ’21/22 after recovering from a torn ACL. He averaged 10.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.1 steals in 20.0 minutes last season. His lengthy injury history has given him some perspective on not rushing the recovery process.

Of course, I want to play but I don’t want to go out there, break it and then have to get surgery and sit out longer than now,” Fultz said. “My biggest thing now is being smart about and healing all the way so I can play a full season without any more hiccups. And not have any lingering pain.”

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.