Markelle Fultz

Pistons Rumors: Galloway, Griffin, Ntilikina

The Pistons are “very open” to the idea of trading Langston Galloway, two league sources tell Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Ellis had recently identified Galloway as one of the most likely players to be dealt if Detroit attempts to keep both Christian Wood and Joe Johnson on its 15-man regular season roster.

According to Ellis, the Pistons have engaged potential trade partners on Galloway for months, but have been unable to find a suitable deal. Although he’s on an expiring contract, the veteran guard’s $7.33MM salary is somewhat exorbitant, making him tricky to move.

As we wait to see if the Pistons can find a taker on Galloway, here are a couple more rumors out of Detroit from Ellis:

  • If things go south for the Pistons in 2019/20 and Blake Griffin remains healthy, the star forward could represent an opportunity for a “franchise reset” via the trade market, says Ellis. According to Ellis, there’s a belief around the NBA that going in that direction is a real possibility for Detroit if the team falls out of the playoff hunt. A league source tells the Free Press that the Pistons could reasonably expect a first-round pick and another asset back for a healthy Griffin. However, I expect that would be a last resort for the club.
  • Having previously reported that the Pistons may have some interest in Frank Ntilikina, Ellis cites sources who say that Detroit has made inquiries on the Knicks’ guard. It appears as though those inquiries have failed to gain traction though, Ellis adds.
  • Within that same article, Ellis notes that the Pistons also explored the possibility of trading for young point guards Dennis Smith Jr. and Markelle Fultz before last season’s trade deadline. Smith and Fultz were ultimately sent to the Knicks and Magic, respectively, leaving Detroit on the lookout for young prospects at the point guard spot. The team may give Bruce Brown some minutes at the position to gauge his potential there.

Southeast Notes: McDaniels, Waiters, Wagner, Fultz

Rookie forward Jalen McDaniels‘ contract with the Hornets is a non-guaranteed one-year contract with an Exhibit 10 provision, John Hollinger of The Athletic reports. McDaniels, a second-round selection, didn’t come to an agreement with Charlotte until Thursday.

While McDaniels could make the opening-night roster, it’s quite possible he’ll be waived and end up in the G League via the Exhibit 10, according to Hollinger. If so, the Hornets will lose their NBA rights to him and another team could sign him at any time, though no one besides Charlotte can sign McDaniels to a two-way contract this season.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • It’s still undecided whether Dion Waiters will start or come off the bench for the Heat this season, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. Waiters is still working his way back into top shape, Jackson adds. Waiters, whose contract runs through the 2020/21 season, was limited to 44 games last season after recovering from ankle surgery and faces a logjam at the wing positions.
  • Second-year big man Moritz Wagner sees Washington as an ideal place to establish himself, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. Acquired from the Lakers this summer, Wagner is in the mix for playing time in the Wizards‘ frontcourt after playing sparingly in Los Angeles as a rookie. “They are trying to develop something new and establish a winning culture,” he said. “Everyone here is part of that, it’s brand new. As a young player, that’s what you want.”
  • Magic guard Markelle Fultz appears to be playing with confidence and letting his combination of size, athleticism, and instincts help establish himself in the league, according to Dan Devine of The Ringer, who provides a detailed examination of Fultz’s preseason performances.

Magic Notes: Fultz, Bamba, Augustin, Gordon

In his first game with the Magic, Markelle Fultz showed off some of the skills that made him the top pick in the 2017 draft, writes Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Playing for the first time since last November, Fultz had six points, four assists, two rebounds and an electrifying dunk in a win over the Spurs.

“It was really just a blessing,” Fultz said. “I give a lot of praise to the man up top, God. It’s all I can say. It was my first time out there in a long time and I’m just happy I was able to step out on the floor and compete.”

Orlando acquired Fultz from the Sixers in February after a frustrating season and a half in Philadelphia that was marked by physical issues and a jump shot that went haywire. His latest ailment, diagnosed as thoracic outlet syndrome, had kept him sidelined since last November 19. He received full medical clearance before camp opened and was determined to play in the preseason opener.

“It means the world to me just to see him out there,” teammate Mohamed Bamba said. “I asked him, ‘How you feeling?’ and he’s like, ‘I feel great. The game’s coming slower and it’s coming easier to me by the minute.’ It felt good to see him out there having fun.”

There’s more this morning from Orlando:

  • Bamba was also happy to be back on the court Saturday after missing the final 30 games of last season and the team’s playoff run with a foot injury, Parry notes in a separate story. After an 18-point, six-rebound and three-block performance, Bamba is optimistic about his sophomore campaign. “I had a lot of time to think about the upcoming season,” he said. “It’s just a preseason game and it doesn’t necessarily prove anything, but it felt good to get out there and just run with the guys.”
  • Coach Steve Clifford plans to use Fultz and D.J. Augustin together in the backcourt, Parry relays in another piece. Even though they’re both listed as point guards, Clifford believes Fultz’s ability to defend bigger players will make the combination work. “They’re both super-skilled,” he said. “They both play with a point guard mentality and then you’ve got two really good pick-and-roll players.”
  • Clifford also plans to play Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac together at center and power forward, tweets Dave DuFour of The Athletic.

Southeast Notes: Kidd-Gilchrist, Pasecniks, Beal, Fultz

Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist comes into camp without a clearly defined role, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. Kidd-Gilchrist opted in to his $13MM contract this season rather than pursue free agency, which he did for his family’s financial security, Bonnell continues. Kidd-Gilchrist’s stock has plummeted in recent seasons and he would have had to settle for a major pay cut if he had dipped his toe into the free agent pool. He was used sparingly last season by coach James Borrego and it’s uncertain if that will change. “I don’t know,” Kidd-Gilchrist said of how he fits on the current roster.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Center Anzejs Pasecniks will play for the Wizards’ G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. Pasecniks, a 2017 first-round pick by the Sixers, played for the Wizards during the Las Vegas Summer League. Philadelphia renounced its rights to Pasecniks during the offseason.
  • Count Wizards guard Bradley Beal among the stars interested in playing for Team USA in the Olympics next summer, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tweets“I don’t plan on having a son this next summer. Or daughter! I don’t plan on having no kids, let’s say that,” he said.
  • Magic guard Markelle Fultz plans to play in the team’s preseason opener on Saturday, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Fultz appeared in 19 games with the Sixers last season but has yet to make his Orlando debut. The No. 1 overall pick in 2017 was traded to the Magic in February.

Eastern Notes: Leonard, Fultz, LaVine, Johnson

New Heat center Meyers Leonard is ready for the new opportunity that awaits him in Miami, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.

 “I know that I can impact the game every night… And I’m vastly improved compared to when I was younger and earlier in my career. The easiest way to put it is I feel really good about where I’m at. And I’m just excited for this new opportunity. The Heat saw something in me and I really appreciate it.”

Leonard, who becomes an intriguing stretch option in the frontcourt for head coach Erik Spoelstra, is confident in his ability to hit open threes and expand his game even further.

“I’m going to do what’s asked of me… If I’m open, I’m going to shoot it. That’s one thing I feel that, particularly last year, I started to do a better job of is take more contested shots…. I (also) feel that I’ve really expanded my game. I can get my shot off quicker. I feel good, even extended beyond the 3-point line. I really, really feel that I’ll be able to provide a very unique skill-set and the ability to roll all the way to the rim, to half roll and play-make or to pick and pop to three. So it’s something I’ve worked very, very hard on.”

 There’s more news from the Eastern Conference:
  • Magic guard and former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz has joined Roc Nation Sports, the 21-year-old announced on his own Twitter account.
  • The best-case scenario for Bulls guard Zach LaVine? He’s got All-Star potential, and should be an All-Star this season, writes Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. But, on the flip side, if he isn’t able to mesh better with Lauri Markkanen and improve on the defensive side of the ball, it may be another long season in Chicago.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News reports that Pistons guard Joe Johnson, who signed a partially guaranteed deal earlier this month, has impressed head coach Dwane Casey with his conditioning. “My main concern was Joe getting up and down and he showed that he can still run the floor and still be athletic,” Casey said. “He has it, even at (38).”

Markelle Fultz Expected To Fully Participate In Camp

The Magic will begin their training camp next Tuesday, and point guard Markelle Fultz is expected to be a full participant, president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said today, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Fultz, the first overall pick in the 2017 draft, last played in an NBA game in November 2018 and hasn’t suited up for a single game for the Magic since being acquired by the team at last season’s deadline. While Fultz is hesitant to say that his health issues – diagnosed as thoracic outlet syndrome – are completely healed, he has recovered to the point where he shouldn’t face any restrictions in camp, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

While Fultz is healthy enough to participate in training camp, it’s not clear whether he’ll suit up for Orlando’s preseason games or if he’ll be able to play regular minutes to start the season. That may depend on how he looks in camp.

“We’re going to remain patient,” Weltman said, per Reynolds. “We’re not going to put expectations or timelines on his development. He hasn’t played basketball in a year. He’s played 33 games total in his career. So it’s going to unfold the way it unfolds.”

[RELATED: Magic exercise 2020/21 option on Markelle Fultz]

As Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel relays (via Twitter), Fultz couldn’t point to a specific point when he felt as if he was back to normal, but he kept seeing more shots go on with less pain as he shot them, which was a turning point. With his game coming back, the 21-year-old is confident that he can make an impact on the court for the Magic.

“I was the No. 1 pick for a reason,” Fultz said today, according to Reynolds. “I knew that I work hard and what I can do on the basketball court. That’s all that matters.”

Magic Notes: Fultz, Burning Questions, Aminu

Although the Magic exercised 2020/21 rookie scale options this week on three players, only one of those decisions really generated headlines. The option pick-ups for Jonathan Isaac and Mohamed Bamba came as no surprise, but Orlando’s decision to exercise Markelle Fultz‘s $12.3MM option for ’20/21 raised some eyebrows.

Picking up Fultz’s fourth-year option is “the most tangible sign yet” that the Magic are pleased with the progress the former No. 1 overall pick has made in his rehab from thoracic outlet syndrome, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. As Robbins points out, making the move official a month and a half before the October 31 deadline helped relieve some of the pressure on Fultz, since there was no opportunity for speculation about that option decision to gain any steam.

As we wait for an update on when we can expect Fultz to make his debut for the Magic, here’s more on the young point guard, plus a couple other notes out of Orlando:

  • In the wake of their decision on Fultz, Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer wonders what the Magic know that we don’t. As Uggetti writes, guaranteeing another $12.3MM for the 21-year-old is a significant investment in a player who has appeared in just 33 total NBA games and has struggled with his shot.
  • In a separate article for The Athletic, Robbins examines the burning questions facing each player on the Magic’s roster this season. Among the questions Robbins poses: Can Orlando’s major free agent addition, Al-Farouq Aminu, effectively space the floor on offense? Aminu is a career 33.7% three-point shooter.
  • In a Q&A with John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com, Magic head coach Steve Clifford addressed a handful of topics, suggesting at one point that the team’s readiness to keep working hard is even more important than the roster’s continuity. “Often, we look at professional athletes as if they’re a given. The thing for us to all understand is this – we played better (in the second half) because we put a lot into it,” Clifford said. “The consistent players put a lot into it every year. And the really talented players who don’t really ever reach the level that they should, it’s because they have a fluctuation in their focus from year to year.”

Magic Exercise 2020/21 Options On Fultz, Isaac, Bamba

The Magic have exercised their rookie scale team options for the 2020/21 season on a trio of young players, the team announced today in a press release. Orlando picked up its fourth-year options on Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, along with its third-year option on Mohamed Bamba.

The decisions on Isaac and Bamba don’t come as a surprise. Isaac had a promising sophomore season, averaging 9.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 1.3 BPG while playing a key part in Orlando’s second-half defensive surge. His cap hit for the 2020/21 season will be $7,362,566.

Bamba, meanwhile, didn’t get a chance to play much in his rookie season after being selected sixth overall in the 2018 draft, as a tibia fracture sidelined him for most of the second half. However, third-year options are rarely turned down and Bamba’s $5,969,040 cap charge for ’20/21 is a very reasonable price as the Magic continue to see what they have in the young center.

The most notable decision here is the one on Fultz, whose fourth-year option is much pricier ($12,288,697) since he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2017. The young point guard still hasn’t appeared in a single game for the Magic since being acquired in a deadline deal last February. However, exercising his option signals that the team likes the progress he has made in his recovery from thoracic outlet syndrome.

Fultz is now the only Magic point guard under contract beyond this season. D.J. Augustin is in the final year of his contract, while Michael Carter-Williams is on a one-year deal.

In total, the option decisions increase the Magic’s projected 2020/21 team salary by over $25MM, reducing the team’s chances of creating any cap room next summer. Orlando now has more than $101MM in guaranteed money on its books for ’20/21, which doesn’t include Evan Fournier‘s $17.15MM player option. The cap is projected to come in at $116MM.

Teams have until October 31 to exercise rookie scale team options for 2020/21. Our tracker can be found right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: Gordon, Wizards, Miller

Aaron Gordon jumped on Sirius XM NBA Radio to talk about the Magic‘s NBA offseason and he portrayed optimism about Markelle Fultz‘s future with the club.

“[Fultz] is a sleeper. If he wakes up and if he’s awake and woken up, he’s a monster,” Gordon said.

Fultz, whose return to the court has yet to be determined, will have a chance to win the team’s starting point guard spot. Incumbent starter D.J. Augustin, who has one season left on his deal, and Michael Carter-Williams, who re-signed with Orlando on a one-year deal, will be the former No. 1 overall pick’s top competition for the role.

Orlando didn’t make major additions in the backcourt this offseason. The team re-signed a few members of its core (Nikola Vucevic, Terrence Ross) and brought in Al-Farouq Aminu with its mid-level exception. Gordon is excited about the addition of Aminu, as well as the continuity the team will experience next season.

“We got Al-Farouq, which is dope,” Gordon said. “[He’s] another 3-and-D guy. Tenacious, hard noise, long-defender and that’s the most beautiful thing. Nothing has changed from this year to last year.”

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington examines whether the Wizards can make a quick turnaround. Hughes argues that if Washington is going to contend sooner than later, the team needs its young talent to show improvement. That would increase each players’ trade value and give the Wizards an avenue to place an immediate difference maker next to Bradley Beal.
  • The Hawks have promoted Tori Miller to assistant GM of the College Park Skyhawks, according to the G League affiliate’s website. Miller spent the last two seasons as the Skyhawks’ Manager of Basketball Operations. She broke into the NBA as an intern with the Suns from 2014-16.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel envisions Pat Riley remaining with the Heat for the foreseeable future, as the scribe details in his latest mailbag. Winderman adds that Miami’s team president remains determined to get the team back to contention and the franchise’s young players are suited to help them achieve that goal.

Southeast Notes: Fultz, Magic, Haslem, McDaniels

It has been nearly five months since the Magic acquired Markelle Fultz in a deadline deal with the 76ers, but Orlando still isn’t sure when the former No. 1 pick will suit up for the team. As GM John Hammond recently explained during an appearance on 96.9 The Game (hat tip to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports), it won’t happen in next month’s Summer League.

“He will not play in Summer League with us,” Hammond said. “We didn’t think there was any way that he was going to do that. We didn’t plan on him doing that. So, probably not the place for him right now. But overall, I can just say that he’s doing well.”

Hammond went on to say that Fultz – who was diagnosed last season with thoracic outlet syndrome – has been working “extremely hard” and is in “great shape,” with the Magic hoping he makes his debut for the team sooner rather than later.

“We want to have patience with him and get him ready and put him on the court when he can be most productive,” Hammond added.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • The Magic will face difficult decisions on their top two free agents, Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, who points out that bringing back both players could limit both the team’s long-term flexibility and its ceiling. In a separate story, Robbins examines the Magic’s cap situation for this summer, observing that the team won’t have any cap room if it brings back either one of Vucevic or Ross.
  • As he considers whether or not to retire, longtime Heat big man Udonis Haslem posted an Instagram message asking for support from fans rather than criticism from those who feel as if he shouldn’t occupy one of the club’s 15 roster spots.
  • Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer believes the Hornets made a mistake by drafting Jalen McDaniels with the No. 52 pick last Thursday night. McDaniels has been sued by two former female high school classmates who claim that he recorded them without their consent while they were performing sexual acts. At the very least, the club needs to explain to its fans why it was willing to overlook that, Fowler argues.