Markelle Fultz

Southeast Notes: Brown, Weltman, Hornets

Wizards point guard Troy Brown Jr. performed competently for Washington in a back-up role during 2019/20, but his long-term fit behind John Wall and Ish Smith remains in question, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“We think Troy can be a back-up point guard,” Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard opined. “He’s going to need a lot more reps.”

The Wizards, with the No. 9 pick in the draft this season, have plenty of positions of need. If the team is convinced that Brown can develop into a reliable bench guard, Hughes writes, it can focus on other areas.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • In an extensive conversation with Josh Robbins of The Athletic, Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman discussed possible contract extensions for injured forward Jonathan Isaac and intriguing guard Markelle Fultz, the first pick in the 2017 NBA draft. “These circumstances (with the pandemic) obviously make things more difficult (to plan) than in a typical summer,” Weltman said. “But we’ll have conversations with them at the appropriate time.”
  • The Hornets will have a uniquely fluid offseason, starting with a myriad of draft options with the No. 3 pick, writes Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. Guard LaMelo Ball, swingman Anthony Edwards, and center James Wiseman appear to be the consensus top three picks this year, though Vecenie notes that the Hornets might also want to consider trading the pick and a promising young Charlotte player to the Warriors or Timberwolves in order to move up in the draft.
  • As we previously relayed, after teams were allowed to add one person to their bubble limit on Saturday, the Heat brought assistant Octavio De La Grana to the NBA’s Disney World campus. Miami now has its complete coaching staff ahead of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Southeast Notes: Bamba, Okeke, Fultz, Hield, Howard

Magic center Mohamed Bamba, who missed the first-round series against Milwaukee, has not experienced any serious health issues after leaving the Orlando campus during the seeding round, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel reports. Bamba departed in mid-August for a comprehensive post-coronavirus evaluation after he struggled from the the virus he contracted in June.

“The doctors have ruled out anything serious but it will take some time to clear his system. That’ll probably be measured in months, not weeks,” Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Weltman said rookie forward Chuma Okeke is in the “late stage of his rehab and development” and the Magic expect him to contribute next season, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Orlando drafted Okeke with the 16th overall pick last year even though he was recovering from a torn ACL suffered during the NCAA Tournament.
  • Coach Steve Clifford expressed satisfaction with Markelle Fultz‘s development this season, Robbins relays in the same story. “He’s obviously a very talented guy. … I’m beyond ecstatic with the way that he played,” Clifford said. Fultz averaged 12.1 PPG and 5.1 APG during the regular season.
  • Buddy Hield and Spencer Dinwiddie are among the trade candidates that the Hawks might pursue to pair with Trae Young, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic opines. Kirschner and Peachtree Hoops’ Andrew Kelly take an in-depth look at what type of trades Atlanta might explore this offseason using the team’s cap room.
  • The Wizards have recently interviewed draft prospects Markus Howard of Marquette and Robert Woodard of Mississippi State, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports. They are potential targets with the Wizards’ second-rounder at No. 37 overall.

Southeast Notes: Fultz, Bamba, Bonga, Borrego

Magic guard Markelle Fultz is confident he’ll play effectively in the league restart. He told Josh Robbins of The Athletic and other media members that he’s actually feeling better than he did before the stoppage of play in March. “Right now I actually feel really good,” he said. “I think it’s just a matter of getting those reps up in a game.”

Fultz arrived at the Orlando campus late due to a personal matter and didn’t start practicing until July 17, but played in the Magic’s scrimmage against the Nuggets on Monday.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic have limited the minutes of big man Mohamed Bamba after he added 20 pounds to his frame during the shutdown, according to Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando coach Steve Clifford wants to make sure Bamba can play at a high level while carrying the extra weight but Bamba is irritated by the plan. “It is difficult to not be frustrated because at the end of the day, you want to go out there and be able to play,” he said.
  • The Wizards’ Isaac Bonga‘s $1.66MM salary for next season is not guaranteed but he’s making a strong impression during scrimmages in Orlando, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes“He impacts the game because of his enthusiasm and his effort and just his spirit,” coach Scott Brooks said of the young big. “Everyone wants to play with him because he just plays so hard. He makes the right plays. He’s not thirsty out there.”
  • Hornets coach James Borrego wants players who have more than just talent, as he explained to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Borrego values players who are passionate and hungry. “Players who care about their team, care about their teammates. Who want to get better, have a curiosity (how) to get better,” he said. “Have an appetite to want to get better. To have an appetite to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

Southeast Notes: Fultz, Isaac, Dunn, Antetokounmpo

Magic guard Markelle Fultz isn’t quite healthy enough to participate in the team’s scrimmage on Saturday, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets“These guys missed so much time and they weren’t able to be in a gym,” coach Steve Clifford said. “For Markelle, it’s just the situation that he was in.” Fultz’s arrival in Orlando was delayed due to a personal matter.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic forward Jonathan Isaac will also sit out the scrimmage against the Lakers but he’s making progress, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. Clifford said Isaac took part in contact drills at practice and is “getting closer” to playing. Isaac has been sidelined since suffering a left knee injury on New Year’s Day.
  • There are quite a few free agent point guard options for the Hawks to consider as a backup but the Bulls’ Kris Dunn should be at or near the top of the list, The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner opines. Dunn is an elite level defender, though he’d have to paired up with quality shooters due to his offensive limitations. The Grizzlies’ De’Anthony Melton would also be an interesting option who could be paired with Young at times because of his defensive prowess.
  • It isn’t out of the question the Hawks would make a run at Giannis Antetokounmpo if the reigning Most Valuable Player becomes a free agent next summer, Kirschner adds in the same piece. If the Hawks’ young core shows major progress next season, they may be able to entice the superstar in a similar manner to what the Clippers did to lure Kawhi Leonard and trade for Paul George.
  • Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn could make cameo appearances in the Heat’s scrimmage on Saturday, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel“If they do, it’s just to get their feet wet,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. Both players arrived at Orlando’s campus on Tuesday.

Magic Notes: Disney World, Rotation, Seeding, Fultz

The Magic may have the shortest trip to the Walt Disney World complex, but their players are struggling with the same adjustment as the other 21 teams, writes Marc Stein of The New York Times. They can have things dropped off easily to help pass the time, but they are still isolated from friends and family members.

Like most of the teams in Orlando, Magic players have family concerns while they tend to basketball-related business. D.J. Augustin‘s father-in-law recently died, and Nikola Vucevic‘s parents arrived from Montenegro to help his wife, who is expecting a baby in November.

“It’s hard being away from family, period, so when I get back to my room, that’s when it’s hard,” Augustin said. But at the same time I’m here to do a job. I’m here and I’m focused and I’m trying to make the best of this opportunity.”

There’s more Magic news to pass along:

  • Orlando may use an expanded rotation when the season resumes, according to John Denton of NBA.com. The Magic already had one of the league’s most productive bench units, which may be bolstered by the return of Jonathan Isaac from a knee injury. “I don’t see us, by July 31 being able to play just nine guys, especially when you are going to play eight games in 15 nights,’’ head coach Steve Clifford said. “I think there will be nights when you play 10 guys or 11 guys and everybody has to be ready. That might make it difficult to get to playing groups, which is always an important factor in our league. It will be as unique of a situation as anything that any of us have ever been involved with.’’
  • The Magic will approach the eight seeding games with a goal of moving up to the seventh slot, Denton adds in a separate story. At 30-35, Orlando is a half game behind the depleted Nets, and passing them would prevent the Magic from having to face the Bucks in the first round. “I would say that’s one of our main goals right now,’’ Wesley Iwundu said. “It’s about coming out from the start really strong.”
  • Markelle Fultz has passed the quarantine protocol and is expected to take part in his first practice this afternoon, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Fultz, who didn’t travel with the team, said his arrival was delayed by a personal matter and wasn’t due to COVID-19.

Markelle Fultz, James Ennis Report To Magic

Magic guard Markelle Fultz has arrived at the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus and has begun his initial quarantine period, a league source told Josh Robbins of The Athletic this morning (Twitter link).

As Robbins notes, Fultz didn’t travel with the rest of the Magic when the team headed to Disney last Tuesday. Fultz’s arrival was delayed by a personal matter, unrelated to COVID-19. Once he returns a pair of negative coronavirus tests, clears quarantine, and passes a conditioning test, he’ll be able to join the Magic for practices.

Meanwhile, forward James Ennis told reporters on a Zoom call that he was the Magic player who recently tested positive for the coronavirus, Robbins tweets. President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman had said last Tuesday when the club arrived at Disney that one player didn’t accompany the team due to a positive COVID-19 test.

According to Robbins, Ennis had a headache for four or five days and experienced some nausea, but is feeling good now. He has completed his quarantine period and practiced on Wednesday with the Magic for the first time since arriving at the campus.

I’m just trying to get my wind up and my legs back under me and just get in rhythm, because our first scrimmage is next week,” Ennis said, per Robbins (Twitter link). “I want to be prepared for that.”

The Magic, who currently hold the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, will be looking to secure a playoff spot when they resume play on July 31. Their goal will be to pass the depleted Nets for the No. 7 seed, which would allow them to avoid a first-round matchup with the 53-12 Bucks.

Magic Notes: Coronavirus, Fultz, Aminu, Isaac

The Magic became the first team to report to the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus on Tuesday, but not all of the team’s players were in attendance. Here are a few of the latest updates on the Magic:

  • A player on the Magic – who hasn’t been identified – tested positive for COVID-19 and didn’t accompany the club to Disney, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. According to Nick Friedell of ESPN (Twitter link), president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said the Magic expect the player to rejoin the team once he’s cleared to do so.
  • Point guard Markelle Fultz has a non-coronavirus personal matter to address and has been excused from reporting to the NBA’s campus for now, according to Reynolds (Twitter links). He’s expected to rejoin the club at some point too.
  • Injured forward Al-Farouq Aminu didn’t travel with the team to Disney and is continuing his rehab work at the Magic’s practice facility, tweets Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. It’s not clear whether Aminu still has a chance to return this season.
  • The Magic’s other injured forward, Jonathan Isaac, is with the club at the NBA’s Disney campus, notes Parry (Twitter link). Isaac continues to rehab the knee injury that has sidelined him since the start of January, but remains unlikely to play this summer. He’s at the stage where he can do a little light court stuff, but that’s about it,” Weltman said of Isaac, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Eastern Notes: Knicks, Jones Jr., Magic, Raptors

The Knicks have several areas in need of improving this offseason, with some in the franchise believing that acquiring a lead guard who creates shots should be a top priority for the team, Ian Begley of SNY writes.

Other focal points (prior to Leon Rose being hired) included finding a big man who can spread the floor, Begley notes, adding that one opposing executive in contact with New York said part of the team’s offseason thinking will be finding players who complement RJ Barrett.

“If you want to complement Barrett, that’s where I’d go,” the executive said. “Adding (a guard and big man who can shoot from the perimeter), you space the floor and make things easier for him. The floor was so crowded for them this year.”

The Knicks held a 21-45 record when the NBA season was suspended indefinitely on March 11, good for fourth-worst in the Eastern Conference and sixth-worst in the league. The team had an underwhelming 2019 offseason and fired head coach David Fizdale 22 games into the campaign.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference tonight:

Magic Notes: Facility, Fultz, Offseason, Okeke

After pushing back their target date a couple times, the Magic are moving forward with reopening their practice facility today, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. As we detailed on Wednesday, the team had been waiting on coronavirus test results for a number of asymptomatic players and staffers.

With the Magic set to allow their players to conduct voluntary individual workouts starting Thursday, they’ll become the 11th NBA team to do so, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Reynolds identifies Portland, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Denver, Atlanta, Indiana, Sacramento, Toronto, and Utah as the first 10 teams to reopen their facilities.

We’ve covered all those teams’ decisions in recent days except for the Bucks, who slipped through the cracks. They announced on Monday (via Twitter) that they’d be reopening their building on a limited basis.

The Magic were the first team to secure written authorization from a local health authority – along with approval from the NBA – to test asymptomatic players for COVID-19, which means they’re able to be more proactive than other teams in screening who’s entering their building. Most clubs, for now, are conducting basic health and temperature checks on those entering their facilities.

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • After recently polling NBA scouts on Jonathan Isaac‘s outlook going forward, Josh Robbins of The Athletic has done the same for Markelle Fultz, one of Orlando’s other young building blocks. Unsurprisingly, Fultz’s shot-making ability is the primary concern among those evaluators. “Right now, I think he’s more of a backup, which is perfect for him,” one scout said. “The shooting, unless that gets a lot better, he’s a backup. He’s with a good coach who values what he does. He defends. He’s an athletic presence. He can get to the rim. But for him to be a starter and a guy you pay that kind of money to, you’ve got to make shots.”
  • Given the Magic’s limited projected cap flexibility and the fact that they likely won’t have a lottery pick, Robbins says in a mailbag for The Athletic that he thinks the most realistic way for the team to make a splash in the 2020 offseason is to do so on the trade market.
  • Within the same mailbag, Robbins also confirms that 2019 first-rounder Chuma Okeke won’t be joining the Magic if the season resumes, since he’ll have to wait until the 2020/21 league year begins to sign his rookie contract. Okeke, who was recovering from an ACL tear when he was drafted last June, essentially took a redshirt year in the G League.
  • The Magic will be the next team up in our Salary Cap Preview series for ’20/21 — keep an eye out for that story to be published later today.

Southeast Notes: Bertans, Magic, Parsons, Goodwin

A number of teams around the NBA are holding out hope that the Wizards will make Davis Bertans available before the trade deadline, writes Chris Mannix of SI.com. However, for the time being, general manager Tommy Sheppard and the front office appear to be sticking to their stance that they intend to retain Bertans and try to re-sign him this summer.

According to Mannix, inquiries on Bertans have “gone nowhere.” Multiple executives tell Mannix that the Wizards are unwilling to even discuss a potential deal.

This is Sheppard’s first trade deadline since he became the Wizards’ head of basketball operations, so it will be interesting to see whether this ends up being a leverage play or if he sticks to his guns and declines to discuss Bertans all the way through February 6.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic explores some potential trade scenarios for the Magic, expressing skepticism that the club will pursue veterans for a playoff push. Robbins also suggests, as he did earlier this season, that Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz look like the only Orlando players who are essentially untouchable in trade talks.
  • Chandler Parsons, who was injured in a car accident, remains in the first stage of the NBA’s concussion protocol and continues to be treated for whiplash and his cervical disc injury, the Hawks announced on Thursday in a press release. According to the team, Parsons has returned home to California to continue his recovery and rehab process. He remains out indefinitely.
  • Hawks two-way player Brandon Goodwin is making a strong case to be promoted to the club’s 15-man roster, as Chris Kirschner of The Athletic details. Goodwin’s teammates are among his biggest advocates for a promotion and a guaranteed standard contract. “Hell yeah,” John Collins said. “B.G. has been around here and done everything the team has asked him to do and (then) some. If he keeps continuing to play like this, there is no reason to say he shouldn’t (get a 15-man roster spot).”