Nicolas Batum

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.

Nicolas Batum Expected To Miss 6-12 Weeks

3:44pm: There hasn’t been any determination yet as to whether or not Batum will require surgery, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. The forward is said to have damaged his ulnar collateral ligament, the same one often associated with pitchers that undergo Tommy John surgery.

The Hornets issued a press release confirming Batum’s injury and indicating that he’s expected to miss a minimum of six to eight weeks.

3:19pm: The Hornets could be without Nicolas Batum for eight to 12 weeks, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. The swingman tore a ligament in his left elbow during Wednesday night’s preseason game.

In 77 games for the Hornets last season, Batum averaged 15.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.

This year Charlotte hoped to take a substantial leap forward after missing the postseason in 2016/17. The club’s newfound depth – depleted significantly sans Batum – was to play a major role in that.

The given timeline would have Batum back on the court anywhere from early December to early January, still with plenty of time to get back into routine and contribute for the Hornets during the playoff stretch.

With Batum on the sidelines, the Hornets will need to find a way to fill his contributions at the two. Currently rookie Malik Monk is the next in line at the position but Jeremy Lamb – currently slated to be the team’s backup small forward -could spend time there as well.

The Hornets already have 20 players on their roster, 13 of whom are on guaranteed deals.

Hornets Notes: Monk, Lamb, Batum, Howard

The Hornets’ choices for backup point guards were influenced by the drafting of Malik Monk in the first round, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. In a mailbag column, Bonnell states that because Monk is an undersized shooting guard with defensive limitations, the team needed larger point guards to pair with him who are better at stopping opponents. That’s why they signed Michael Carter-Williams and Julyan Stone, both 6’6″, when other options were available.

Another factor was cost, as Charlotte was concerned about staying under the luxury tax threshold of about $119MM and was financially limited after trading for Dwight Howard‘s $23.5MM salary. Carter-Williams agreed to a one-year, $2.7MM deal in July, while Stone accepted a minimum-salary contract in August after negotiating a release from his team in Italy.

Bonnell offers more insight into the Hornets:

  • Monk should be fully recovered from a sprained left ankle that caused him to miss the Orlando Summer League. The 11th overall pick suffered the injury during a draft workout and was sidelined for several weeks, which coach Steve Clifford said affected his conditioning. Monk probably won’t see a lot of playing time early in the season, Bonnell writes, but he should be fully healthy for the team’s October 18 opener.
  • Jeremy Lamb has impressed the coaching staff with his work this offseason, but he’s not a threat to take Nicolas Batum‘s starting job. Lamb has been a valuable reserve during his two seasons in Charlotte, and Bonnell says the team needs Batum’s playmaking skills and overall versatility in the starting lineup.
  • The roles of the big men haven’t been firmly established heading into camp. Howard is expected to start at center with Marvin Williams at power forward, but Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky could both make a push for more playing time. Howard’s reputation as a poor free throw shooter could limit his fourth quarter minutes, just as it did in Atlanta, with Zeller getting more use late in games.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Crawford, Mack

The Hornets have taken significant steps forward this offseason but one of the big questions heading into the 2017/18 campaign will be whether wings Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Nicolas Batum will be able to thrive together.

In a recent mailbag, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tackled the question arguing that the lanky pair help the squad more than hinder them. Bonnell refers to the Hornets’ defensive woes as the major culprit for Charlotte’s disappointing 2016/17 campaign, saying that taking Kidd-Gilchrist out of the picture would only make matters worse.

Bonnell does add, however, that the Hornets would be wise to feature rookie Malik Monk as soon as he’s able to prove that he’s reasonably competent on the defensive end. If he slots in at the two, Batum could then slide up to the three.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hawks acquired Jamal Crawford in the three-way deal that sent Danilo Gallinari to the Clippers and immediately began pursuing a buyout with the 36-year-old veteran. Exact details of the buyout are not yet known but Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that the guard’s cap hit will be around $11MM in 2017/18.
  • There’s no disputing Shelvin Mack‘s track record of success, he suited up for the 60-win Hawks of 2014/15 and served a valuable role for the 2016/17 Jazz squad that climbed back to relevance. According to John Denton of Orlando’s official website, the former Butler Bulldog thinks that even the Magic can be winners in the immediate future.
  • After a breakout 2013/14 campaign in which he filled in admirably for an injured Kobe Bryant, Jodie Meeks has posted three forgettable, injury-plagued seasons. Now a member of the Wizards, the soon-to-be 30-year-old is ready to reset and start anew. “I came back from my thumb at the end of the season,” he told Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I played okay and finished out the season healthy. This summer I got some rest. Now I’m working out again and I feel fine.
  • After riding the pine for the Wizards in 2016/17, Sheldon Mac and Daniel Ochefu have taken noticeable steps forward, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes.

Southeast Notes: Ross, Heat, Batum, Hawks

Having been sent to Orlando from Toronto at this year’s trade deadline, Terrence Ross will get an earlier start to the offseason with the Magic than he has had in recent years with the Raptors. Nonetheless, Ross is looking forward to spending the summer in Orlando to “familiarize himself with the area and work on his game,” according to John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com, who notes that the veteran swingman has bought a house in Central Florida.

Ross has also looked more at home on the court for the Magic as of late — in his last 12 games, he has averaged 14.8 PPG, shooting .462/.390/.933. All of those marks except for 3PT% (he shot 39.5% in 2013/14) would be career highs for Ross if he maintained them over a full season, so Orlando has reason to be optimistic going forward.

Here’s more from around the Southeast division:

  • Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel believes it has “become clear” that James Johnson should be the top priority among the Heat‘s 2017 free agents. Dion Waiters looked like that player for much of the season, but Winderman notes that Waiters’ absence in recent weeks has allowed Miami to explore other options at shooting guard, and the results have been solid.
  • Veteran forward Nicolas Batum confirmed over the weekend that he won’t play for France in this year’s Eurobasket tournament (video link). Batum will instead dedicate his summer to the Hornets after the team endured a disappointing 2016/17 campaign.
  • The Hawks announced today in a press release that front office executive Malik Rose has been promoted and will serve as the general manager of Atlanta’s new D-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks. The BayHawks had been Orlando’s NBADL affiliate this past season, but the Hawks will assume control of the Erie club when the Magic introduce a new Lakeland affiliate in 2017/18.
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