Moritz Wagner

Moritz Wagner To Begin Serving Suspension On Wednesday

Magic forward Moritz Wagner will begin serving his two-game suspension for his role in last week’s on-court altercation with the Pistons on Wednesday night when Orlando hosts the Thunder, the NBA announced today in a press release (Twitter link).

The original plan was for Wagner to start serving his suspension on December 30, when the Magic faced Washington. However, he was unable to play in that game due to an illness, and league rules state that suspensions don’t begin until the player is physically able to play.

As a result, Wagner will miss both Wednesday’s game vs. Oklahoma City and Thursday’s contest vs. Memphis.

Eight other Magic players received one-game suspensions for leaving the bench during that incident in Detroit. Five of those players served their one-game bans last Friday, but three others will join Wagner on the inactive list tonight vs. OKC — his brother Franz Wagner and two-way players Admiral Schofield and Kevon Harris are serving their suspensions on Wednesday.

NBA Suspends Two Pistons Players, Nine Magic Players For Roles In Fracas

The NBA has suspended two Pistons players and nine Magic players for their roles in an altercation during the second quarter of Wednesday’s game, the league has announced (Twitter link).

Pistons guard Killian Hayes was given the harshest punishment, a three-game suspension without pay. Magic center Moritz Wagner has been suspended for two games, while Detroit guard Hamidou Diallo was also dinged for a one-game suspension. Both Hayes and Diallo will be held out of the team’s road game against the Bulls Friday.

Hayes, Wagner and Diallo were all ejected from the game Wednesday night, which Detroit won 121-101, for their roles in the on-court confrontation that began when Wagner hip-checked Hayes out of bounds into the Pistons’ bench while the two were scrambling for a loose ball. Diallo subsequently shoved Wagner in the back, but Hayes then escalated the conflict when he punched Wagner in the back of the head. Wagner appeared to lose consciousness after the hit. Several Magic players left the bench to support Wagner and all have been penalized for doing so.

The NBA is additionally suspending eight additional Orlando players after they left the bench to support Wagner during the scuffle: guards Cole Anthony, R.J. Hampton, Gary Harris and Kevon Harris, swingmen Franz Wagner and Admiral Schofield, and big men Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba. All eight players will receive one-game bans.

The NBA’s press release indicates that the absences of the Magic players will be staggered to ensure the team has enough available bodies for its ensuing two contests. Anthony, Gary Harris, Hampton, Bamba, and Carter will miss Orlando’s next game on Friday against the Wizards. Wagner will also begin his two-game suspension on Friday. The others will miss the club’s January 4 matchup with the Thunder.

Three Players Ejected In Magic-Pistons Game; Suspensions Likely

Magic big man Moritz Wagner, Pistons guard Killian Hayes, and Pistons wing Hamidou Diallo were all ejected for an incident in Wednesday’s game, tweets Mike Curtis of The Detroit News.

As shown in the video and multiple replays courtesy of Bally Sports Orlando (Twitter video link), Wagner initiated the altercation by hip-checking Hayes into the Pistons’ bench, which obviously riled everyone nearby. Diallo then caught up and shoved Wagner in the back with a forearm, followed by Hayes punching/forearming Wagner in the back of the head, which appeared to cause Wagner to lose consciousness.

Officially, Wagner and Hayes were both given flagrant 2 fouls, while Diallo received two technical fouls.

Hayes is almost certain to face a pretty significant suspension for his part in the altercation, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter). Several Magic players left their bench area to join the fray, and while nothing really transpired beyond a few mild shoves (it looked like most were just trying to get Wagner out), leaving the bench typically draws an automatic suspension by the NBA, per Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Since so many of Orlando’s players left the bench, it seems probable that the suspensions will be staggered so the Magic will still have eight available players, the minimum required to play a game, Goodwill adds (via Twitter). The suspensions are likely to be handed down sometime on Thursday.

Both teams’ next games are on Friday; the Pistons play in Chicago, while the Magic are home against the Wizards.

Magic Notes: M. Wagner, Hampton, Bol, Banchero

Moritz Wagner‘s Magic teammates say he does a lot of things that don’t show up in the box score, including annoying his opponents, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. The latest example came Friday night when Celtics forward Al Horford was ejected and given a Flagrant 2 foul after elbowing Wagner in the stomach.

“He plays with an unlimited amount of energy and he’s just out there yelling, getting on the ground, frustrating the other team — just all the little things you have to have,” Paolo Banchero said. “You have to have a player like that who’s bringing that energy and has that intensity no matter what.”

Orlando has won four in a row after a 6-20 start and has been playing better since Wagner joined the starting lineup eight games ago. He’s averaging 14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists since the move while shooting 54.9% from the field and 36.1% on three-pointers. Wagner will be a free agent next summer, but he may be inclined to re-sign with the Magic and continue playing alongside his younger brother.

“He’s a lot more skilled than I think people realize,” Banchero added. “He’s a super smart player. Him and his brother [Franz Wagner] are very smart and cerebral. They have very good awareness of what’s going on in the game. Not just what they’re doing, what their man is doing, they know what’s going on with your man and what they see you doing. They’re just very aware.”

There’s more on the Magic:

  • R.J. Hampton is back with the team after playing G League games on Thursday and Friday, Price adds. Hampton has been out of the rotation in Orlando and requested the assignment with the Lakeland Magic as a way to get more playing time.
  • Bol Bol is displaying the combination of size and athleticism that has scouts raving about Victor Wembanyama, observes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Bol, who has emerged as a candidate for Most Improved Player in his first full season with the Magic, says he never got a chance to display his skills during his two and a half years in Denver. “Yeah, I had all of this,” he said. “It’s just I haven’t really been able to show it because I’ve been on the bench for the last couple of years. Now that they’ve given me the opportunity, I’ve just been trying to get better each game and I think it’s been showing.”
  • Before he was drafted by Orlando, Banchero got some valuable advice from Celtics star and fellow Duke alum Jayson Tatum, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “When I play against good players or good teams they kind of have a little bit of extra motivation to try to stop me or make it hard for me,” Banchero said. “That’s something Jayson told me right away, before I even got to the NBA. It’s helped a lot.”

Paolo Banchero, Moritz Wagner Set To Return For Magic

The Magic will have a couple of previously injured big men available for Friday’s home game against Philadelphia, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscription required).

2022 No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero is slated to start (Twitter link) after a seven-game absence due to a left ankle sprain, while Moritz Wagner could make his 2022/23 regular season debut after incurring a right midfoot sprain during preseason.

Banchero had an excellent start to his NBA career, averaging a team-high 23.5 PPG along with 8.3 RPG, 3.6 APG and 0.9 BPG through 11 games (34.6 MPG). According to Price, the former Duke product said he’d never really dealt with an injury before.

I’ve just got to be patient,” Banchero said. “It’s my first time dealing with injuries. At first, I wanted to rush as quickly as possible trying to get back. I realized that wasn’t doing any good for me. I’m trying to learn to be patient and continue to be patient and listen to myself.”

Wagner was productive last season for Orlando, appearing in a career-high 63 games (15.2 MPG) while averaging a 9.0 PPG and 3.7 RPG as a reserve. The 25-year-old should help the team’s frontcourt depth and has been a solid scorer in limited minutes.

Unfortunately, Wendell Carter Jr. (right plantar fascia strain), Chuma Okeke (left knee soreness) and Terrence Ross (illness) have all been ruled out for the Magic (Twitter link). As Price notes in his article, both Carter and Okeke had previously been listed as questionable but were later downgraded. Ross was a last-minute addition to the injury report.

Carter will now have missed four of the past five games with the nagging foot problem. Plantar fascia injuries can be very fickle and typically only respond to rest, so we’ll see how that plays out over the course of the season. Okeke had appeared in all 18 games for the 5-13 Magic but exited Monday’s loss to the Pacers early with the injury.

Southeast Notes: Oladipo, Durant, Wagner, Maker

Victor Oladipo, who re-signed with the Heat this summer on a two-year deal worth approximately $18MM, has only appeared in 12 regular season games since he was acquired from Houston at the 2021 trade deadline, but he’s ready to return to top form, he told Vince Carter on the VC podcast (hat tip to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald).

He’s calling it his “Revenge Tour.”

“When I say revenge, I’m taking about God’s revenge,” Oladipo said. “They messed up my surgery, I sat back. I tore my quad, I sat back. But now it’s my time to rise, I truly believe that. So that’s the revenge tour. That’s what it’s all about. It’s one day at a time, it’s a constant grind every day. That’s what I’m focused on doing.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Kevin Durant‘s ultimatum to the Nets could be a potential boost for the Heat in trade talks, Chiang speculates. Brooklyn might decide to lower its asking price before having the awkward situation drags into training camp. The Heat have been unwilling to part with center Bam Adebayo or Jimmy Butler in a Durant deal. Adebayo is not currently eligible to be included in a Durant trade unless the Nets also trade Ben Simmons to the Heat or another team due to the Designated Rookie Extension rule. Miami’s current trade package would be highlighted by Tyler Herro.
  • Magic big man Moritz Wagner won’t play for Germany in the World Cup qualifiers or FIBA ​​EuroBasket 2022 due to an ankle injury, according to The severity of the ankle injury wasn’t revealed but Wagner expressed disappointment that he won’t be able to participate. “The fact that my ankle isn’t healed is difficult to accept at first, but it’s part of the game,” he said in a statement released by the German federation. “This team is special and I’m looking forward to watching the boys play and supporting them.”
  • The plan for Makur Maker is to play with the Wizards’ G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, during the upcoming season,  Ava Wallace of the Washington Post. Maker was signed to an Exhibit 10 contract on Wednesday. The contract will allow Maker to receive a bonus worth up to $50K if he’s waived during the preseason and then spends at least 60 days as an affiliate player.

Southeast Notes: Murray, Banchero, Wagners, Wizards

Dejounte Murray tells Michael Scotto of HoopsHype there’s no reason to be concerned about how he’ll fit alongside new backcourt partner Trae Young. The Hawks gave up a sizeable package of draft picks to acquire Murray from the Spurs, teaming up two guards who have been primary ball-handlers throughout their careers. Murray says he and Young are both “hoopers” and they’ll find a way to make it work.

“He wanted me as bad as I wanted to go over there to help,” Murray said of Young. “They already have a culture over there that they built. There’s a brotherhood. For me, it won’t be too hard to fit in. I work hard, and I can adapt to any environment I’m put in with my style of play and willingness to learn and work. It’s going to be a smooth transition. I think we’ll figure it out. We’re both smart, and we love the game. When you add those things together, you figure out ways to win. The main goal is to win, and that’s what we both want.”

In the lengthy interview, Murray also discusses his affection for San Antonio, the mentality it took to recover from a torn ACL and his expectations for Atlanta heading into the upcoming season.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Paolo Banchero may be a big part of the foundation in Orlando after being taken with the No. 1 pick, but the Magic don’t expect him to assume a leadership role right away, per Nick Friedell of ESPN. Coach Jamahl Mosley hopes to emulate the Warriors, who give every player a role in building the culture. “You look at how Draymond [Green] is so vocal, but everybody knows how he ties and glues that team together,” Mosley said. Steph [Curry] doesn’t have to say much, but when he does, it speaks volumes. We want to build our guys in that regard where there’s such a chemistry, and then as guys rise and they get their voice and they get that feel of leadership, they start to stand up. “
  • The Magic‘s Franz Wagner and Moritz Wagner are on Germany’s roster for FIBA EuroBasket 2022, which will take place in September, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. The Wagner brothers may also participate in World Cup qualifying games in late August.
  • Reports that the Wizards are among the teams interested in trading for Donovan Mitchell show that Washington will be aggressive about building a contender now that Bradley Beal has a long-term contract, observes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Robbins examines Mitchell’s potential fit in Washington and what it might cost to get him.

Magic To Guarantee Moritz Wagner’s 2022/23 Salary

Reserve Magic center Moritz Wagner will have his $1.9MM non-guaranteed salary for the 2022/23 NBA season become fully guaranteed, per Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel (via Twitter).

Wagner was drafted by the Lakers out of Michigan with the No. 25 pick in 2018. He spent one season with Los Angeles as a little-used reserve, averaging just 10.4 MPG. The 6’11” center spent the next few years on the move, being flipped first to the Wizards in 2019, then the Celtics and Magic during the 2020/21 season.

The team drafted his younger brother, 2022 All-Rookie small forward Franz Wagner, with the eight overall pick in 2021. The Magic brought Wagner back on his current two-year, $3.6MM deal during the same offseason. Across 63 games with Orlando in 2021/22, the 25-year-old backup big man averaged 9.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 1.4 APG in 15.2 MPG, playing behind the Magic’s jumbo-sized frontcourt of Wendell Carter Jr. and Mohamed Bamba.

With the advent of top 2022 draft pick Paolo Banchero out of Duke and the expected return of Jonathan Isaac near the start of the 2022/23 season, Wagner may struggle to make Orlando’s big man rotation on a night-to-night basis.

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.

COVID Updates: Joseph, Jackson, Murray, Johnson, Okeke, Rondo, Ball, Maxey

The league continues to be ravaged by COVID positives with an increasing number of players entering the league’s health and safety protocols. Here are the latest updates:

  • The Pistons, who already had six players in protocols, added guards Cory Joseph and Josh Jackson to the list, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets. The Pistons are scheduled to play the Spurs on Sunday night. San Antonio will be without Dejounte Murray, who also entered protocols on Sunday, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.
  • The Magic, who already had a handful of players in protocols, won’t have B.J. Johnson and Chuma Okeke available against Miami on Sunday after they joined the list, the team’s PR department tweets. Moritz Wagner has exited the protocols but is going through a reconditioning period before returning to action, per the team (Twitter link).
  • Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo has entered protocols, joining three other Lakers, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register tweets.
  • Two-way player Jose Alvarado became the third Pelicans players to enter protocols, Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets.
  • Bulls guard Lonzo Ball has entered protocols, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The Bulls, who have experienced major COVID issues this month, also have Alfonzo McKinnie and Tony Bradley in protocols, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic tweets. McKinnie just signed a standard contract and he can be replaced via the hardship exemption, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Chicago has seen 14 players enter protocols this month.
  • On the positive side, the Sixers’ Tyrese Maxey was spotted at shootaround after exiting protocols, Keith Pompey of  the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.