Nicolas Batum

Southeast Notes: J. Johnson, Hezonja, G League, Batum

James Johnson may be the latest addition to the Heat’s long list of injured players, writes Ira Winderman of The-Sun Sentinel. Johnson will have an MRI today to determine the extent of a lower-leg issue that forced him to leave Saturday’s game. He is in the midst of another productive season, averaging 10.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 28 games, and an extended absence would be a significant blow to a team already reeling from injuries.

Miami is without center Hassan Whiteside, who has missed two weeks with a bone bruise on his left knee and won’t join the team for a two-game road trip, along with Justise Winslow [strained knee], Okaro White [foot surgery] and Rodney McGruder [leg surgery]. The injuries have created more playing time for rookie Bam Adebayo and free agent additions Kelly Olynyk and Jordan Mickey.

“I’ve spent a lot of time with J.J. He’s talked to me a lot,” Mickey said. “He’s always said, ‘Eventually your number will get called.’ I’m not happy in this particular position [with Johnson out], but I’ll be ready, Coach needs me and I’m already ready.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Injuries are also creating an opportunity for Magic small forward Mario Hezonja, notes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. With Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon and Arron Afflalo all sidelined, Hezonja has started the past three games with uneven results, Robbins notes. The fifth player taken in the 2015 draft, Hezonja may be looking at his last chance to prove himself before unrestricted free agency next summer. Orlando declined to pick up his fourth-year option in October. “You’ve just got to find your own rhythm but still be in the system,” Hezonja said. “If I go out [and try to excel] individually, I’m going to look good, but we’re going to lose. We’re not going to win a lot of games like that. Everybody has to step up like that, has to have that mindset.”
  • The Magic are enjoying the benefits of having a G League affiliate close to home, relays John Denton of NBA.com. The organization moved its affiliate from Erie, Pa., to Lakeland, Fla., over the summer, which is paying off with the recent rash of injuries. Jamel Artis and Adreian Payne were able to attend practice with the Magic Tuesday morning, even though they had a G League game that night, then were available for Wednesday’s NBA contest.
  • Nicolas Batum offered a reminder of why the Hornets gave him a five-year, $120MM contract with with a season-high 23-point performance Saturday, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. For most of this season, Batum has been deferring to other players on offense after returning from a torn ligament in his left elbow that he suffered in the preseason. “I was trying to adjust myself to the other guys way too much,” he said, “when sometimes I have to let them adjust to me.”

Southeast Notes: Batum, Fournier, Graham

If you’re wondering why Nicolas Batum hasn’t been his regular self for the Hornets since returning to the court, it’s because of lingering pain associated with the torn tendon in his left elbow, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes.

Batum elected to forego potential season-ending injury in October when a specialist said that it would be possible to recover through rehabilitation. Batum returned to the Hornets after six weeks. In the 12 starts since, he’s averaged 10.1 points on 37% shooting from the field and just 22% from downtown. Last year, in contrast, he averaged 15.1 on 40% and 33%.

Since I got back, I’ve not been 100 percent yet. Not even close to 100 percent. It’s always there. Every contact: I grab someone, or someone grabs me, or someone hits me,” the versatile Hornets forward said. “I get [pain] every game.

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • The Magic are creeping toward a playoff spot but George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel says that’s not exactly a good thing. The scribe notes that the team has shown signs of relative competence but also mediocrity, the latter a one-way ticket to the dreaded middle-ground between success and actually landing a top lottery pick.
  • Plenty has gone wrong for the Hornets this season but the club has reason to be optimistic about Treveon Graham, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. The versatile wing, who can slide into a forward spot if necessary, could have an impact on how the team handles the coming few, injury-plagued weeks.
  • An MRI has revealed that Evan Fournier‘s ankle is sprained. The Magic guard hasn’t played since Wednesday, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel writes, but he considers himself to be day-to-day.

Southeast Notes: Ross, Gordon, Howard, Batum

The Magic have fallen on tough times after an 8-4 start, but they are just two and a half games out of a playoff spot and still qualify as one of this year’s early-season surprises. Coach Frank Vogel tells Nick Friedell of ESPN the team made a mistake at the start of last season by going against the small-ball trend, adding that things began to turn around with the trade of Serge Ibaka to Toronto for Terrence Ross. That created an opening for Aaron Gordon at power forward and Evan Fournier at small forward.

“I think last year we were trying to go big when the whole league was going small and it wasn’t really working,” agreed center Nikola Vucevic. “A lot of guys were out of their comfort zone, a lot of guys were out of position. It just wasn’t working, it wasn’t clicking. I think this year players’ roles are more clear.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • New GM John Hammond is confident that Gordon, a restricted free agent, will agree to a long-term contract next summer, Friedell relays in the same story. Orlando wasn’t able to work out an extension with Gordon before last month’s deadline, but Hammond believes his future will be with the Magic“You look at a guy like that and say, ‘He’s one of those guys as you move forward with, that you got to have,'” Hammond said. “And we feel that way.” Gordon is off to the best start of his career, averaging 17.6 points and 8.1 rebounds in 17 games.
  • Early-season technical fouls are piling up for Hornets center Dwight Howard, notes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. The NBA announced today that Howard was fined $35K for an obscene gesture in Friday’s game at Cleveland. That’s his second fine this season and sixth technical in 18 games. There will be an automatic one-game suspension if he reaches 16, and the league could impose a separate suspension if the obscene gestures continue.
  • Nicolas Batum isn’t worried about any long-term effects from his latest elbow injury, Bonnell tweets. Batum was able to return to the Hornets‘ lineup tonight after sitting out Friday. He left Wednesday’s game with a contusion on his left elbow, the same one that caused him to miss the first 12 games of the season.

Southeast Notes: Batum, Magette, Lamb

The Hornets may be without Nicolas Batum yet again, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. The 28-year-old swingman injured the same elbow that sidelined him for the first 12 games of the season.

While details are not yet known as to the extent of Batum’s recent setback, he missed the second half of the Hornets’ Wednesday night home game against Washington with a left elbow contusion.

All told, Batum missed six weeks with a torn ligament in the same elbow to start the season, so the fact that the injury stems from the same area is cause for concern.

In his five games of action for the Hornets, Batum has averaged 11.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • The Magic have fallen back down to earth after a 6-2 start but that doesn’t mean their apparent progress was a mirage. As John Denton of the team’s official site writes, the club is simply going through necessary growing pains.
  • The Hawks may have found themselves a diamond in the rough in the form of two-way contract signee Josh Magette. ESPN’s Ian Begley tweets that the undrafted rookie, who just posted four points, four rebounds and five assists in 15 minutes on Wednesday, has already impressed people around the league.
  • If Nicolas Batum ends up missing significant time with his re-injured left elbow, the Hornets will turn yet again to Jeremy Lamb who has emerged as a prolific perimeter scorer. The 25-year-old belongs in the conversation for Most Improved Player, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes.

Batum, Green, Ilyasova Returning From Injuries

A trio of players who have been sidelined for most or all of the 2017/18 season due to injuries are set to return to action for their respective clubs on Wednesday night, per various reports. JaMychal Green will play for the Grizzlies, Ersan Ilyasova will return for the Hawks, and Nicolas Batum will make his season debut for the Hornets.

Batum’s return may be the most notable of the three, as he has been sidelined since early in the preseason with a torn ligament in his elbow. Reports on Batum’s injury initially suggested he’d be out for eight to 12 weeks, with the Hornets confirming that they expected the veteran swingman to miss at least six weeks. Thursday will mark six weeks since the team made that announcement, so Batum made a speedy recovery. He’ll start tonight against the Cavs, according to the Hornets (Twitter link).

Green, the Grizzlies’ primary power forward, will return to action tonight after missing all but one game this season with an ankle injury, writes Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Jarell Martin, who appeared to be on the verge of losing his roster spot in training camp, stepped into Memphis’ starting lineup in Green’s absence. Martin figures to return to the bench tonight against the Pacers, while Green looks to begin making good on the two-year contract he signed with Memphis in September.

As for Ilyasova, the Hawks’ power forward, who signed a new two-year deal of his own in the offseason, has been on the shelf since October 27 with a bone bruise in his knee. However, after participating in today’s shootaround, he said he’s ready to go, per Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Ilyasova opened the season in the starting lineup, but will come off the bench against the Kings tonight, according to head coach Mike Budenholzer.

Southeast Notes: Batum, Magic, Wade

With a full scrimmage under his belt, Hornets swingman Nicolas Batum is expected to make his 2017/18 debut on Wednesday, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. Batum tore a ligament in his left elbow back on October 4.

One of the biggest impacts that Batum will have on the team is with his ball movement, as he posted 5.9 assists in addition to his 15.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game for the Hornets last season.

I bet he got an assist to everybody he played with today. There were a couple of times when he hit me wide-open and I wasn’t expecting the ball,” Hornets forward Marvin Williams said after the practice.

The club will get an even better idea of how ready Batum is to return to in-game action when they ramp things up at the Hornets’ practice on Monday.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • While he’s sure to clarify that the Magic don’t boast the same caliber of elite level talent that the Warriors have, John Denton of the team’s official site writes that Orlando has played rather Golden State-ish so far this season. The Magic have benefited from the same pace-and-space tactics that the historically dominant reigning champion Warriors have for the past several seasons.
  • The recent Eric Bledsoe trade has Heat beat writer Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel reexamining how the Goran Dragic deal holds up two years later. Like Bledsoe, Dragic was a quality Suns point guard that didn’t fit the team’s timeline at the time of the trade. Phoenix has yet to cash in on their spoils from that deal, Winderman writes. The Suns will collect Miami’s first-round pick in June (with some protections) and an unprotected first in 2021.
  • If Dion Waiters plays in 70 games for the Heat this season, he’ll earn an additional $1.1MM, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes. That doesn’t mean the veteran will risk his health, however. “At the end of the day,” Waiters said, “If it’s something serious, I’m not going to put myself in harm’s way. I’m going to sit out. My body is more important.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Howard, Deng

The Hornets will soon be charged with the task of working Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Nicolas Batum back into their lineup, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. The former will return to action after a three-game absence tonight.

Batum, sidelined since October with a left elbow injury, could return to the court as early as next Wednesday. Both will be welcome additions to a Hornets lineup that has moseyed out to a 5-6 start this season.

With Batum and Kidd-Gilchrist back in the lineup, head coach Steve Clifford will need to figure out what to do with the likes of Jeremy Lamb, Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon, all of whom have stepped up with recent opportunities.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Southeast Notes: Simmons, Batum, Wizards

The Magic have jumped out to a 6-2 start this season despite the fact that much of the core they’ve featured this season is a carryover from last year’s team that finished just 29-53. The X-Factor that’s helping the team perform so much better in 2017/18 could very well be Jonathon Simmons, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes.

Simmons signed a three-year deal worth $20MM this summer and has earned the trust of head coach Frank Vogel early in his Magic career.

He has earned the trust. You know, when we put the ball in his hands, typically, he makes good things happen,” Vogel said. “He’s a good decision maker, and he’s a threat going to the basket. I mean, he really attacks the rim and will get to the free throw line and will finish. He does a good job making the extra pass, too. I do have a lot of trust; he’s earned it very early with me in his stay [with the Magic].

Through eight games with the Magic so far this year, Simmons has averaged 15.8 points and 3.6 rebounds.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

Nicolas Batum Won’t Need Surgery On Elbow

A specialist has determined that Nicolas Batum won’t require surgery, reports Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

The Hornets swingman suffered a torn ligament in his left elbow in a game last Wednesday and is projected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks. An MRI showed it was a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament.

“It’s going to be long, but not that long,” Batum said before Monday’s meeting with a doctor in Dallas. “If it were my shooting arm, it would be a lot longer. At max, it’s three months.”

The Charlotte medical staff is still determining the best course of treatment, but the team has to be relieved that Batum won’t have to undergo an operation. The 28-year-old is coming off his best statistical season, averaging a career high 15.1 points per game to go with 6.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists.

Batum said he got hurt when his arm got wedged between Detroit’s Stanley Johnson and another player. It’s an injury that frequently affects baseball pitchers and often requires Tommy John surgery.

Hornets Notes: Batum, Lamb, Carter-Williams, Rookies

The Hornets should find out soon whether Nicolas Batum will require surgery for a torn ligament in his left elbow, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Batum is projected to be sidelined six to eight weeks with the injury, which he suffered in a preseason game Wednesday. He will meet with a specialist Monday in Dallas to determine whether surgery is the best option.

Batum’s injury has been diagnosed as a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. He wore a wrap on the elbow at Friday’s practice and said he was relieved when X-rays showed there was no fracture. Although Batum described the injury as painful, he promised to return as quickly as possible. “When I put my arms up, I feel something,” he said. “If this were my shooting arm, it would be like a tragedy. It’s not and that’s good.”

There’s more out of Charlotte:

  • Coach Steve Clifford plans to move Jeremy Lamb into the starting lineup during Batum’s absence, Bonnell writes in a separate piece. Lamb has made just a handful of starts during his first five seasons in the NBA, but he has been Charlotte’s top preseason scorer. “He’s worked so hard, and not just for two months — steady work since he’s gotten here,” Clifford said. “The more he’s worked, and the more he sees how his hard work is paying dividends, he’s notched it up even more. You get confidence when you work at a good pace. And now it’s all paying off for him.”
  • Michael Carter-Williams reported no physical problems after his first scrimmage as a Hornet, Bonnell notes in another story. The former Rookie of the Year, who agreed to a one-year, $2.7MM deal this summer, wasn’t medically cleared until Friday because of patella tendon tears that required platelet-rich plasma treatments on both knees. The scrimmage was only half-court, but Carter-Williams found it encouraging. “It’s great to compete out there; it’s what I missed the most,” he said. “My timing is a little bit off. I need to get back to playing at the pace of this team. My knees have been fine.”
  • The injury to Batum means first-round pick Malik Monk and second-rounder Dwayne Bacon may have to contribute sooner than expected, Bonnell writes in another piece. “That rookie stuff goes out the window at this point,” Kemba Walker told them.
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