Magic Rumors

Southeast Notes: Fultz, Hunter, Len, Magic

The Magic‘s performance as of late without point guard Markelle Fultz has highlighted his importance to the club, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. The Magic are 1-6 since Fultz was lost for the season with an ACL tear. Fultz’s savvy court vision had been a key component of the Magic’s offense.

“We’ve got to figure something out to try to get us going into offense smoother and understand how we’ve got to play,” shooting guard Terrence Ross noted. “With no Markelle we’re trying to figure it out, but it’s tough. So we’ve got to keep going at it.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks wing De’Andre Hunter has grown into the club’s most reliable player, with an improved offensive attack, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic opines. Hunter’s development can be a boon to the franchise in both the short and long term. “He has a chance to be really, really special,” Hawks center Clint Capela said. “To be able to guard the star on the opposite team every night, (it) has been amazing to see that.”
  • With the Wizards losing starting center Thomas Bryant for the year due to a torn left ACL, the club may need to shore up the position with some additional help. Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington posits that recently-waived big man Alex Len could be an intriguing defensive fit for the team.
  • Given the season-long absences of recently-extended young starters Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, Josh Robbins of The Athletic explores whether or not it makes sense for the Magic to tank for a high draft pick this season.

Markelle Fultz Undergoes Surgery To Repair Torn ACL

Magic guard Markelle Fultz, who suffered a torn left ACL earlier this month, underwent successful surgery on Wednesday to repair that tear, the team announced in a press release.

The Magic confirmed in their announcement that Fultz will miss the remainder of the 2020/21 season, as expected. His return next season will depend on how he responds to treatment and rehabilitation, per the club. If the ’21/22 regular season tips off in October, it’s possible the former No. 1 pick won’t be ready, since it often takes upwards of a year for players to return from major ACL injuries.

Fultz, 22, averaged a career-best 14.3 PPG and 6.1 APG in his seven healthy games this season, though his shooting percentages in the early going (.396 FG%, .250 3PT%) were well below his modest career rates.

Although Fultz faces a long recovery timeline, he at least won’t have to worry about dealing with restricted free agency during the summer of 2021, since he signed a three-year contract extension in December. That new deal will pay him a guaranteed $16.5MM salary both next season and in 2022/23.

[RELATED: 2020/21 NBA Contract Extension Tracker]

The Magic will also play the rest of the 2020/21 season without young cornerstone forward Jonathan Isaac, who suffered a torn ACL of his own. The team was granted a disabled player exception following Isaac’s injury and has applied for one to replace Fultz as well. Now that the point guard has undergone surgery and his recovery outlook is clearer, that application will likely be approved soon.

Evan Fournier Ready To Return For Magic

  • Magic guard Evan Fournier, who has been on the shelf for the team’s last nine games due to back spasms, will be available for Wednesday’s game vs. Minnesota, the team announced (via Twitter). Orlando was 4-0 with Fournier healthy to start the season, but lost the game in which he was injured and has slumped badly since then. Fournier’s return will be a welcome sight for the 6-8 club.

Markelle Fultz Staying Upbeat About ACL Recovery

  • Magic officials and players have said that Markelle Fultz has remained upbeat as he begins the long process of coming back from a torn ACL, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “I think he’s got a great attitude about the whole thing,” head coach Steve Clifford said. “Let’s put it this way: He’s handling his injury a lot better than his coach is.”

Mo Bamba Will Miss Magic/Celtics Tilt Due To COVID-19 Protocols

Magic center Mohamed Bamba stayed in Orlando rather than traveling to Boston for the Magic’s Friday tilt against the Celtics due to the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, according to Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link).

Robbins notes that Bamba’s absence is a result of “non-team contact tracing,” though Bamba himself has not tested positive for COVID-19.

The 6-5 Magic are currently the No. 5 seed in the East, mostly behind the play of starting center Nikola Vučević, guard Terrence Ross, and forward Aaron Gordon.

Bamba’s absence may not have much of an on-court impact for the Magic. The 22-year-old reserve big man out of Texas is averaging 5.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 0.5 APG and 0.5 BPG across a career-low 8.3 MPG in four games for the Magic this season.

Bamba previously contracted the coronavirus in June and struggled to recover through the beginning of the NBA’s Orlando-based summer restart to the 2019/20 season. At the time, he dealt with significant symptoms, including fatigue, muscle soreness, and a temporary loss of his senses of taste and smell.

NBA Postpones Wednesday’s Celtics/Magic Game

A third consecutive Celtics game will be postponed, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Wednesday’s contest between the C’s and the Magic won’t be played as scheduled.

The NBA issued a press release confirming the postponement, noting within its announcement that Boston doesn’t have the league-required minimum of eight players available.

As Tim Bontemps of ESPN observes (via Twitter), the Celtics’ most recent injury report, released on Sunday, included seven players (Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Grant Williams, Tristan Thompson, Robert Williams, Javonte Green, and Semi Ojeleye) out due to health and safety protocols and two more (Kemba Walker and Romeo Langford) sidelined due to injuries. That would leave eight players available, so it seems likely that at least one more player has been ruled out since then.

The Celtics and Magic had been scheduled to play a pair of games in Boston this week. The second of those two contests, set to be played on Friday, remains up in the air for the time being. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the Magic won’t be traveling to Boston today. However, they could do so later in the week.

2020/21 NBA G League Draft Results

The NBA G League held its draft for the 2020/21 season on Monday afternoon.

In a typical year, the G League draft lasts four rounds and teams are only required to make two selections. However, this year’s draft was just three rounds and teams weren’t required to make any picks.

Because only 17 of 28 NBA G League affiliates (plus the G League Ignite) are participating in the revamped season at Walt Disney World in Florida, and because teams aren’t permitted to bring extra players to training camp for health and safety reasons, roster spots will be at a premium in the NBAGL this season, and the draft reflected that. Only 25 players were selected.

With the first overall pick, the Greensboro Swarm – the Hornets‘ affiliate – nabbed former Wizard Admiral Schofield. The 42nd overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, Schofield averaged 3.0 PPG and 1.4 RPG in 33 games (11.2 MPG) as a rookie before being traded to the Thunder during the offseason. Oklahoma City waived him last month.

With the second overall pick, which they acquired in a trade earlier in the day, the Memphis Hustle selected former Baylor standout Freddie Gillespie, who had been in camp with the Mavericks. Gillespie recently spoke to JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors about his desire to make it to the NBA and his plans to begin his professional career in the G League. He’s now in position to suit up for the Grizzlies‘ affiliate.

Here are the full 2020/21 G League draft results:

Round One:

  1. Greensboro Swarm (Hornets): Admiral Schofield (Tennessee)
  2. Memphis Hustle (Grizzlies): Freddie Gillespie (Baylor)
  3. Canton Charge (Cavaliers): Antonio Blakeney (LSU)
  4. Iowa Wolves (Timberwolves): Allonzo Trier (Arizona)
  5. Lakeland Magic (Magic):  Tahjere McCall (Tennessee State)
  6. Canton Charge: Anthony Lamb (Vermont)
  7. Oklahoma City Blue (Thunder): Zavier Simpson (Michigan)
  8. Lakeland Magic: DJ Hogg (Texas A&M)
  9. Westchester Knicks (Knicks): Justin Patton (Creighton)
  10. Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Rockets): Armoni Brooks (Houston)
  11. Raptors 905 (Raptors): Kevon Harris (Stephen F. Austin)
  12. Rio Grande Valley Vipers: Jarron Cumberland (Cincinnati)
  13. Oklahoma City Blue: Vince Edwards (Purdue)
  14. Austin Spurs (Spurs): Jonathan Kasibabu (Fairfield)
  15. Raptors 905: Gary Payton II (Oregon State)
  16. Memphis Hustle: Anthony Cowan Jr. (Maryland)
  17. Iowa Wolves: Dakarai Tucker (Utah)
  18. Salt Lake City Stars (Jazz): No pick
  19. N/A

Round Two:

  1. Delaware Blue Coats (Sixers): Jemerrio Jones (New Mexico State)
  2. Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Pacers): Oshae Brissett (Syracuse)
  3. Westchester Knicks: No pick
  4. Iowa Wolves: No pick
  5. Long Island Nets (Nets): No pick
  6. Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (Clippers): No pick
  7. Fort Wayne Mad Ants: Quincy McKnight (Seton Hall)
  8. Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (Clippers): No pick
  9. Santa Cruz Warriors (Warriors): Selom Mawugbe (Azusa Pacific)
  10. Raptors 905: No pick
  11. Memphis Hustle: No pick
  12. Austin Spurs: Anthony Mathis (Oregon)
  13. Erie BayHawks (Pelicans): No pick
  14. Greensboro Swarm: No pick
  15. Austin Spurs: Kaleb Johnson (Georgetown)
  16. Santa Cruz Warriors: No pick
  17. Memphis Hustle: No pick
  18. Oklahoma City Blue: Rob Edwards (Arizona State)
  19. Salt Lake City Stars: No pick

Round Three:

  1. Greensboro Swarm: No pick
  2. Erie BayHawks: No pick
  3. Westchester Knicks: No pick
  4. Delaware Blue Coats: Braxton Key (Virginia)
  5. No picks from 43-57

The teams that didn’t make any picks will fill their rosters with affiliate players and returning rights players, meaning they didn’t need to draft anyone and/or didn’t have the open spots to do so.

As Jonathan Givony of ESPN and Blake Murphy of The Athletic noted (via Twitter), NBAGL teams overwhelmingly opted for youth, passing on most of the notable veteran NBA players in the draft pool. That group included Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, Lance Stephenson, Emeka Okafor, and Shabazz Muhammad, among others.

Former Nets first-rounder Dzanan Musa removed his name from the draft pool before the event began, per Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Magic Apply For Disabled Player Exception For Fultz

Having already been granted a disabled player exception following Jonathan Isaac‘s season-ending ACL tear, the Magic have now applied for a second DPE in the wake of Markelle Fultz suffering the same injury, reports Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

As we explained when the Magic were approved for their initial disabled player exception, the DPE is a salary cap exception designed to allow teams to add a replacement for a player who suffers a season-ending injury. It’s worth either half the injured player’s salary or the value of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, whichever is lesser.

In the case of Fultz, who is earning a $12,288,697 salary this season, a disabled player exception would be worth about $6.14MM.

The disabled player exception doesn’t give a team an extra roster spot, but it allows the club to add a player without using cap space to do so. It can be used to sign a free agent, to claim a player off waivers, or to acquire a player in a trade. However, it can only be used on one player and can only accommodate a player on a one-year deal. A free agent signee can’t get a multiyear contract, and any trade or waiver target must be in the final year of his contract.

The Magic currently have a full 15-man roster and are less than $3MM away from the luxury tax line, per Robbins, so the odds probably aren’t great that the team would make use of two disabled player exceptions before the April 19 deadline. Still, they’re useful tools to have available and could be used to creatively structure a trade at the deadline.

As Robbins notes, the Magic could also consider applying for a hardship exception if they want to add immediate help to a roster hit hard by injuries. Unlike the DPE, approval for a hardship exception allows the team to sign an extra player to its standard 15-man roster. Teams qualify when they have at least four players who have missed three or more games, assuming those players are expected to be sidelined for at least two more weeks.

In addition to the season-ending injuries to Isaac and Fultz, the Magic will be without Chuma Okeke (bone bruise) for several weeks, and there has been little indication when Al-Farouq Aminu (knee surgery) might be able to return.

Bamba Still Trying To Fight Back From COVID-19

  • Magic center Mohamed Bamba is still playing catchup after the effects of a summer coronavirus case extended into this season, writes Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Bamba wasn’t cleared for contact work until December 16, and limited practice opportunities because of the condensed schedule have slowed his attempt to get back into game condition.

Cole Anthony Becomes Primary Ballhandler

In the wake of Markelle Fultz‘s season-ending knee injury, rookie Cole Anthony has becomes the Magic’s No. 1 point guard, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel writes. Anthony, who was selected with the No. 15 pick in the draft, logged a season-high 32 minutes on Wednesday when Fultz was injured.

“Cole, in my opinion, he’s the starter right now and I think that he’s ready to take it and grow with it and we all have great confidence in him,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said.