Michael Carter-Williams

Injury Updates: LeBron, AD, Doncic, Hayward, Gordon

A handful of the NBA’s Christmas Day games have lost some of their luster due to injuries, but that shouldn’t be the case for the league’s marquee December 25 matchup. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin, Lakers stars LeBron James (groin) and Anthony Davis (knee) went through an impromptu practice today and are expected to play on Wednesday vs. the Clippers. James and Davis had been listed as questionable.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the league:

  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic was a full participant in practice today, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Doncic’s status for Thursday’s game remains up in the air, but “things are looking better and better,” according to head coach Rick Carlisle.
  • As expected, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has been listed as probable for the team’s Christmas Day game vs. Toronto. Hayward, who has missed 16 of Boston’s last 19 games, said today that he has been dealing with a nerve issue in his foot, which he believes is related to his ankle injury from two years ago. He has received three cortisone shots and feels “a lot better” after the most recent one, as Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston relays.
  • Rockets guard Eric Gordon, out since November 11 with a knee injury, may be targeting Sunday’s game for his return, says Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Feigen also explores the ripple effect that Gordon’s return will have on Houston’s rotation.
  • Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams has made good progress in his recovery from a shoulder injury and is hopeful he won’t miss much time, writes John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com.

Injury Updates: Anthony, Wagner, MCW, Hayward

Carmelo Anthony doesn’t believe a left knee contusion he suffered Friday night will be a long-term concern, writes Jamie Goldberg of The Oregonian. Anthony, who was held out of Saturday’s game, asked to be removed from Friday’s contest against Orlando in the second quarter after banging knees with another player. He remained in the locker room to get treatment on the injury.

“I didn’t want to take the chance of going out there,” the Trail Blazers‘ forward explained afterward. “We had it rolling. The guys had it rolling. We set the tone early in the game.”

Anthony, 35, has been productive since returning to the NBA last month after a year away from the game. He has averaged 16.0 points and 6.2 rebounds through 15 games and has given Portland another reliable scorer to go along with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

There’s more injury news from around the league:

  • The Wizards will be without Moritz Wagner for at least a week because of an ankle injury, relays Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). Coach Scott Brooks provided an update last night, telling reporters that Wagner can’t do anything basketball-related right now.
  • Michael Carter-Williams has been diagnosed with an AC joint sprain in his left shoulder, the Magic announced on Twitter. He has been ruled out of tomorrow’s game, and his return date will depend on how the injury responds to treatment. The veteran guard had his arm in a sling after being hit with a hard pick Friday night (Twitter link from Josh Robbins of The Athletic).
  • Gordon Hayward will miss his third straight game today with soreness in his left foot, according to a tweet from the Celtics. An MRI taken this week revealed no structural damage. Hayward was sidelined for about a month with a fractured bone in his left hand and has been limited to 11 games this season.
  • The Heat have already ruled Justise Winslow out for tomorrow’s game, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Winslow hasn’t played since December 4 because of a lower back strain.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, MCW, Butler

Criticism can be hard to give and harder to accept but it’s something that teams in the NBA need to be comfortable with in order to improve. Wizards players are still figuring out one another and being constructive with criticism is something that the team has discussed within the locker room, as David Aldridge of The Athletic relay.

“You do it strategically,” said Ish Smith, who was part of the rebuild in Philadelphia. “Everybody ain’t rah-rah. You’ve got to be able to talk to them. And you’ve got to read people’s body language. How people walk, how do people talk, how they’re feeling, if they’re down if they’re up. Those are the things you’ve got to be able to do. You’ve got to communicate, not just by yelling and screaming. You’ve got to be able to pull guys to the side. And that all grows with relationships and just building throughout the season.”

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic have listed Michael Carter-Williams as doubtful for Tuesday’s contest vs. the Wizards, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. The designation is technically an upgrade on out, which is what MCW has been for the last six contests, so the point guard may be nearing a return.
  • Jimmy Butler is proving to be the ultimate teammate, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes. Butler is simply trying to win games and he’s not making it about personal glory or any statistics during his first year with the Heat.
  • In the same piece, Winderman explains why Justise Winslow has been playing in crunch time for the Heat over Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn. Winslow remaining on the floor has to do with his defense and coach Erik Spoelstra valued that late in games recently.

Southeast Notes: Spoelstra, Magic, Thomas, McRae

The NBA implemented a new coach’s challenge for the 2019/20 season, an addition that’s received mixed reviews among the league’s players, coaches and fans just one month into the campaign.

The feature is simple: To initiate the one-time, challenge, a head coach must call timeout and pursue review of a foul, out-of-bounds, goaltending or offensive interference call. While reviewing the play, the referees must see clear and conclusive visual evidence in order to overturn the ruling.

However, not all of the league’s 30 head coaches enjoy the new addition to the game.

“I don’t like it,” longtime Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the challenge, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. “I’m an NBA basketball coach. I’m not an official, and I’m not trying to be an official.

“There are too many things to focus on. It doesn’t work like the NFL one. And I’m not bashing it to say I won’t be a part of it. We’ve challenged and won one. I’ll use it, but it’s distracting.”

Despite giving teams the option to challenge a potentially incorrect call, the addition of the coach’s challenge presents one clear problem: Slowing down a game that’s already been slowed enough by officiating in recent seasons, particularly toward the end of contests.

“I don’t know how that helps the flow,” Spoelstra said. “To me, it hurts the flow. It’s just another thing to focus on that’s distracting that has nothing to do with the game.

“For example, we had a game in Miami the other night and there was a bang-bang play, and it could have been called or not. I didn’t have a timeout to burn in that instance; I didn’t want to, like, gamble. And I see two fans going like this [motioning with a twirling finger]. That’s where we’re going? It’s like, I don’t know.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic provides injury updates on Magic players Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and Michael Carter-Williams. Gordon has a combination of a right ankle contusion and right ankle sprain, Robbins notes, though his injury is improving and he’s receiving around-the-clock treatment. Vucevic is also rehabbing from an ankle injury, though the 29-year-old is no longer in a walking boot. Carter-Williams did some stationary bike work on Saturday to continue rehab on a left hip injury.
  • Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas is confident that he’ll return to his old All-Star form, as relayed by Kevin Brown of NBC Sports Washington. “A lot of people have counted me out, especially the last couple of years,” Thomas said. “But I know what I’ve been through, I know what my body’s been through. I know how good I feel I know I’m ready and I know given the opportunity, I can play at an All-Star level again. And that’s what I’m gonna showcase…I promise you I’m gonna be an All-Star, I’m gonna be an All-NBA basketball player again.”
  • Jordan McRae is finally having his special moment with the Wizards, Fred Katz of The Athletic details. McRae missed the entire 2017/18 season due to a shoulder injury and is coming off an up-and-down campaign with Washington, but he’s starting to solidify his role on the team this year. “There’s not a better feeling in the world — unless you sign a max contract. That might be a little bit better,” head coach Scott Brooks said. “It’s a great opportunity for Jordan. … But he still can’t relax. They always say the easiest thing is to make it. The hardest thing is to keep it. And he’s doing everything we ask. It’s good to have him back.”

Contract Details: Jazz, MCW, Muscala, Robinson

More contract details continue to trickle in as the 2019 free agency period winds to a close. Below are some additional reports regarding signings for the Jazz, Magic, Thunder, and Wizards:

  • According to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders, the Jazz gave Stanton Kidd a $250K guarantee on his 2019/20 salary. The guarantee for William Howard is only $50K, but jumps to $250K if he remains on the roster through the first game of the regular season.
  • Per Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports, Michael Carter-Williams’ one-year deal with the Magic is a fully-guaranteed, veteran’s minimum contract.
  • The Thunder signed big man Mike Muscala to a two-year, $4.31MM deal with a player option for the second season, reports Michael Scotto of The Athletic. A minimum-salary arrangement for Muscala, a six-year veteran, equals $4,311,628, so that’s what his contract figures to be given the Thunder’s cap situation.
  • The Wizards used part of their mid-level exception to sign Justin Robinson, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports that the rookie point guard inked a three-year deal with a $250K guarantee in year one. His first-year salary is also $988,310, $90K more than what would have been permitted had he been signed with the minimum-salary exception.

Magic Re-Sign Michael Carter-Williams

JULY 10: Carter-Williams’ new deal with the Magic is official, per a press release from the team (Twitter link). Terms were not disclosed, but it figures to be a minimum-salary arrangement with Orlando up against the tax line.

JULY 1: The Magic have agreed to a one-year contract with free agent point guard Michael Carter-Williams, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Carter-Williams, who turns 28 in October, joined Orlando on two 10-day contracts in March and impressed the team with his play. He signed for the remainder of the season on April 4 and was a key cog off the bench entering the playoffs.

Carter-Williams joins D.J. Augustin and Markelle Fultz as current point guards in the Magic’s projected rotation, with the club also reaching free-agent agreements with Nikola Vucevic, Terrence Ross and Al-Farouq Aminu during the first day of free agency.

Named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 2014, Carter-Williams has played for the Sixers, Bucks, Bulls, Hornets, Rockets and Magic across his six year-career. He was selected 11th in the 2013 draft by Philadelphia.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Eastern Conference

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. With the playoffs underway, we turn our attention to the Eastern Conference:

Michael Carter-Williams, Magic, 27, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $60K deal in 2019
Carter-Williams was scrounging for work six weeks ago after getting traded from Houston to Chicago in early January and then immediately getting waived. The former Rookie of the Year had to settle for 10-day contracts with Orlando before he was signed for the remainder of the season. Not only did he help the Magic reach the playoffs, he’s been one of their main cogs off the bench against Toronto. He posted 10 points, five rebounds and two assists in Orlando’s Game One upset. Carter-Williams has played well enough to receive offers commensurate to other veteran backup point guards.

Glenn Robinson III, Pistons, 25, SF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $8.35MM deal in 2018
With Blake Griffin sidelined by a knee in the first two games against Milwaukee, Robinson got one last chance to convince the Pistons that they should exercise their $4.3MM option on him for next season. Robinson has been utilized as an undersized power forward in the series but his perimeter shooting woes have continued. After shooting just 29% from deep and falling out of Dwane Casey‘s rotation during the regular season, Robinson has made just one of his eight 3-point attempts in the first two games. Robinson will assuredly return to the free agent market this summer.

Pat Connaughton, Bucks, 26, SG (Up) — Signed to a two-year, $3.36MM deal in 2018
Connaughton’s modest salary of $1.723MM for next season becomes guaranteed if he’s still on the roster July 1st. That already seemed like a good bet heading into the postseason; now it’s a no-brainer. He’s taken advantage of an expanded role with Malcolm Brogdon and Tony Snell sidelined by injuries. Connaughton has been a difference-maker against Detroit, averaging 14.0 PPG on 73.4% shooting and 8.5 RPG in 29.5 MPG. He also recorded four blocks on perimeter shooters in Game Two. He’ll be one of the league’s best bargains next season.

Jeremy Lin, Raptors, 30, PG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $487K deal in 2019
Lin chose the Raptors after agreeing to a buyout with the Hawks in mid-February. The expectation was that he would bolster the playoff rotation behind Kyle Lowry. But Lin has had trouble finding his footing in Toronto and with Fred VanVleet healthy, he has been the odd man out in the postseason. He never left the bench in the Game One loss to Orlando and played four meaningless minutes in Game Two. Lin should still find work this summer but he’ll likely have to settle for something close to the veteran’s minimum.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Notes: Carter-Williams, Gasol, Olynyk, Ennis

Michael Carter-Williams has thrived in his new role with the Magic, adding defense, size and a much-needed boost of energy off the bench.

Carter-Williams, who won the Rookie of the Year award during the 2013/14 season, has since bounced around the league with multiple teams and largely failed to find a concrete role. That is, of course, until Orlando took a chance on him with two 10-day contracts last month.

“It’s great. It’s a blessing. I can only thank everybody here for giving me the chance to come in and show what I can do,” Carter-Williams said, according to Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel. “I always believed in myself … just a matter of time until I got the chance.”

The Magic are 8-2 since signing Carter-Williams to a first 10-day contract. His hard work paid off in his limited amount of time with the team, and the 27-year-old happily signed a rest-of-season contract with the organization on April 4.

“It definitely feels good, I can’t lie,” Carter-Williams said. “Everybody is playing well … everyone’s been solid. We’ve all had big moments in those [eight] wins.”

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference today:

  • Marc Gasol has quickly adjusted to his new role with the Raptors, positively impacting the team on both ends of the floor, Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star writes. Gasol grew acclimated to his new teammates and play style quicker than most expected, with Toronto holding a 17-8 record since acquiring him. “It’s just weird that he stepped in day one and he was right on point … He doesn’t need a learning curve,” teammate Fred VanVleet said of Gasol. “He stepped in from day one and was able to adjust to pretty much everything we did. So that just speaks to his basketball IQ.”
  • Heat forward Kelly Olynyk has kept tabs on the Canadian men’s national team, most notably the team’s head coaching search ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup that starts on August 31, Michael Grange of Sportsnet writes. Olynyk, who was born in Canada, will likely play for the team this summer. “It’s not a thing where we need someone to micromanage a game and do all that stuff and trick other teams,” he said of the team’s coaching search. “We have the talent, we have the abilities we just need someone to help us put them to the test.”
  • Derek Bodner of The Athletic ponders how the Sixers could adjust with the latest injury to forward James Ennis. Ennis, who’s averaged 5.3 points and 15.6 minutes off the Sixers’ bench in 18 games, sustained a right quad contusion last week that’ll likely force him to miss at least part of the first round. Jonathon Simmons could receive more playing time in Ennis’ absence, with the playoffs just one week away.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Carter-Williams, Haslem, Young

The next general manager of the Wizards will be tasked with making a major decision on star guard Bradley Beal, David Aldridge of The Athletic writes.

Beal, named to his second All-Star team this season, has transformed into Washington’s clear leader in the absence of John Wall. He’s averaging a career-high 25.9 points per game on 48% shooting from the field, due to make $27MM next season and $28.7MM the following season.

“I’m not saying you have to trade him,” one NBA executive told Aldridge of Beal. “But you do have to think about it.”

Between Beal and Wall, the next Wizards GM will find more interest around the league in Beal’s services. Wall is under contract for another four seasons ($37.8MM in 2019/20, $40.8MM in 2020/21, $43.8MM in 2021/22 and a $46.9MM player option in 2022/23). That, combined with Wall’s surgeries on his heel and ruptured Achilles this year, make trading him virtually impossible in the present day.

For the Wizards, deciding whether to keep or trade Beal in the coming months will determine their future course. The general manager position — which was vacated when the team dismissed Ernie Grunfeld this week — is said to appeal to current GMs under contract elsewhere largely due to the resources and geography that comes with the job, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links).

There’s more from the Southeast Division today:

  • Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams is proving to be a difference maker as the team looks to make a final push for the playoffs, John Denton of NBA.com writes. Orlando signed Carter-Williams to a rest-of-season contract on Thursday, waiving guard Isaiah Briscoe. Carter-Williams provided a much-needed boost of energy off the bench during his first two 10-day contracts, scoring 5.4 points and dishing out 3.7 assists in 18.7 minutes per outing.
  • Heat veteran Udonis Haslem reflected on his storied 16-year career in an exclusive article relayed by Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated, looking back on his competitors, teammates, early upbringing and love for the game of basketball. Haslem has spent the past few seasons in a very limited on-court role, doing most of his work on the Heat with the younger players in practice and in the locker room. Haslem’s veteran presence is greatly valued by Miami’s coaching staff and players, many of whom have publicly stated their hopes of him returning for another season.
  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst chronicles the slow build to success for Hawks guard Trae Young, who continues to improve as the 2018/19 season nears the finish line. Young, a dominant shooter and passer in contention for the Rookie of the Year award, must continue to improve on defense in order to take his game to the next level. The Hawks hold major selling points of Young, John Collins, a new head coach in Lloyd Pierce, cap flexibility and future draft picks for star players entering free agency this summer.

Magic Sign Michael Carter-Williams For Rest Of Season

APRIL 4: The Magic have officially re-signed Carter-Williams, the team announced today in a press release. The club waived Briscoe to ensure that MCW is playoff-eligible, as we detail in a separate story.

APRIL 3: Michael Carter-Williams‘ second 10-day contract with the Magic will expire after tonight’s game vs. New York, but the team doesn’t plan on letting him get away. President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman tells Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel that the Magic plan on signing Carter-Williams for the rest of the season.

“So you are allowed two 10-days and after that you have to sign the player to a contract for the rest of the season, which we will do with Michael,” Weltman said. “Beyond that, as far as setting a roster for the playoffs, that’s bad karma to talk about right now. Let’s make the playoffs then we’ll talk about that.”

The Magic have been able to carry Carter-Williams on their roster via a hardship exception, which is granted to teams that have at least four players who have missed three or more games and are expected to continue to miss two weeks or more. However, as Weltman suggests, a 16th man signed via the hardship provision isn’t eligible for the playoffs.

Orlando can sign MCW for the rest of the season using the hardship provision, but in order to make him postseason-eligible, the team would need to waive another player to reduce its roster to 15 players before the end of the regular season. With a playoff spot not yet assured, the Magic figure to put off that decision until sometime next week.

Carter-Williams’ stats with the Magic (5.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.6 APG, and a .364/.214/.667 shooting line) are somewhat modest, but he has helped stabilize the team’s second unit as D.J. Augustin‘s backup. The club is 6-2 since his debut.

If the Magic do make the playoffs, point guards Jerian Grant and Isaiah Briscoe figure to be among the candidates to be cut to make room on the 15-man playoff squad for MCW, as Josh Robbins of The Athletic wrote earlier this week. Grant is on an expiring contract, while Briscoe has two more years left on his minimum-salary contract, though Briscoe has a knee injury and isn’t expected to return this season.