Magic Rumors

Southeast Notes: Anthony, Yurtseven, Dedmon, Hornets

Magic guard Cole Anthony is an early-season candidate for Most Improved Player, Josh Cohen of NBA.com writes. Anthony is averaging 20.2 points and six assists per game on 43% shooting from the floor, up from last season’s averages of 12.9 points, 4.1 assists and 40% shooting.

“I think it is a reflection of his work ethic,” head coach Jamahl Mosley said. “It’s a reflection of his confidence, and it’s also the confidence that his teammates have in him to be willing to take those shots.

“But again, you also have a group of guys on the floor that are willing to take shots, That’s what we’ve created and it’s the equalness of each guy willing to want to step in to be able to make the big play, so whoever it is they’re willing to have their number called and step in and make a play.”

Anthony is averaging 34.4 minutes per game (compared to 27.1 minutes in 2020/21), but his shooting marks have also improved across the board. The Magic drafted the 21-year-old with the No. 15 pick in 2020.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Southeast Notes: Suggs, Hawks, Okongwu, Miles Bridges, LaMelo

2021 fifth overall pick Jalen Suggs suffered a fractured right thumb on Monday for the Magic, but surgery won’t be necessary to repair the injury, according to Dan Savage of OrlandoMagic.com.

Savage writes that Suggs will be evaluated every two weeks to assess how much the bone has healed, and the healing process will determine when he returns to the court.

Through 21 contests (27.8 MPG), Suggs is averaging 12.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 3.6 APG and 1.1 SPG. His counting stats are solid, but like many rookies, he’s struggled with efficiency in the early going, committing 3.2 turnovers per game with a poor shooting line of .339/.255/.763.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Hawks assistant coach Jamelle McMillan is in the COVID-19 health and safety protocols and head coach Nate McMillan will be isolating until he has tested negative multiple times, the team announced (Twitter link). In a follow-up tweet, the team says that assistant coach Chris Jent will serve as head coach Dec. 1 against the Pacers. Jent is a veteran assistant and has been with the Hawks since 2017.
  • Second-year Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu is starting to ramp up activity while recovering from shoulder surgery. We noted last week he played 3-on-3, and now coach Nate McMillan says he’s going to start practicing 5-on-5 with the College Park Skyhawks, Atlanta’s G League affiliate, per Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). He’s expected to play in a G League game if the practices go well.
  • LaMelo Ball is playing a major role in Miles Bridges‘ breakout season with the Hornets, Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer writes. Tjarks takes an in-depth look at the connection between the two players, noting that Bridges is an All-Star candidate this season with two-way impact. Tjarks says the Hornets may regret not giving Bridges a rookie scale extension at a discounted rate when they had the chance, stating that Bridges could earn a max contract next summer if he keeps playing at a high level.

Magic Rookie Jalen Suggs Suffers Fractured Thumb

Magic guard Jalen Suggs has suffered a fractured right thumb, according to the team’s PR department (Twitter link). He’ll be out for an extended period of time.

Suggs, who was averaging 12.1 PPG, 3.5 APG and 3.4 RPG in his rookie campaign, was the No. 5 pick in the draft. The former Gonzaga All-American suffered the injury at Philadelphia on Monday, a game in which he scored 17 points and handed out five assists in 29 minutes. The injury occurred during the fourth quarter.

Suggs will return to Orlando to be reevaluated before a clear timetable can be determined, but he’s expected to miss several weeks, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Orlando’s other starting guard, Cole Anthony, has been sidelined since November 19 due to an ankle injury, while Markelle Fultz continues to recover from a torn ACL. Michael Carter-Williams has also been dealing with an ankle injury. That leaves R.J. Hampton, Gary Harris and Mychal Mulder as the remaining backcourt options.

Suggs suffered an injury to his left thumb during Summer League action. It’s been a rough start for many of the league’s top rookies, as Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley and Jonathan Kuminga have all missed games due to various injuries.

Wendell Carter Jr. Fined For Tossing Glasses

  • Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. was fined $35K by the league for forcefully throwing his protective glasses at a game official, Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw tweets. The incident, for which Carter was assessed a technical foul and ejected, occurred in the fourth quarter of the Magic’s loss to Cleveland on Saturday.

Bulls Notes: Vucevic, Carter, White, DeRozan

There was plenty of nostalgia for Bulls center Nikola Vucevic on Friday night as he returned to Orlando for the first time since being traded in March, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Vucevic, who spent eight-and-a-half seasons with the Magic, got a warm reception from fans during player introductions and again after a video tribute.

“It was definitely emotional just being back in this building and seeing all the people I’ve met throughout the years and friendships I’ve built,” Vucevic said. “It was a lot to take in for sure.  … It’s a special place for me and it always will be special for me to come back.”

Vucevic nearly missed his return to Orlando because of COVID-19, but he was able to start playing again Wednesday after being sidelined for about two weeks. After posting 16 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes against the Magic, he said his comeback is going well.

“It’s been a little better than I thought it would be, for sure. But I’m still not there 100%, which is expected,” Vucevic said of his conditioning. “It’s difficult because it’s not like an injury where you can do the bike or lift. For 10 days, I was not allowed to do anything. As much as I enjoy laying on my couch, after 10 days it’s not easy to come back. Just gotta work through it.”

There’s more on the Bulls:

  • Wendell Carter Jr. was surprised to be sent to Orlando in the trade for Vucevic, but he said he’ll be “forever grateful” to the Bulls for drafting him with the seventh pick in 2018, Johnson tweets.
  • With 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting, Coby White turned in his best performance Friday in the seven games since returning from shoulder surgery, notes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. White has also looked more active on defense than he was in his first two NBA seasons, according to Schaefer. “It’s been a real focus point since I’ve been back,” White said. “We’re so good defensively, I’m just trying to fit in.”
  • DeMar DeRozan has transformed his game by moving to power forward, per Seerat Sohi of The Ringer. The switch has been happening gradually over the last two seasons, but it became necessary after DeRozan signed with a Bulls team that already had Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine and Alex Caruso in the backcourt.

Markelle Fultz Discusses Injuries, Criticism, More

  • Magic guard Markelle Fultz discussed a variety of topics with former NBA player Etan Thomas on BasketballNews.com’s The Rematch (podcast link), including his injuries, love of the game and facing adversity. Fultz has yet to play this season as he rehabs from a torn ACL.

Injury Notes: Fultz, Isaac, Embiid, Harris, Iguodala, Warren

Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac are progressing towards a return to the court for the Magic, writes Dan Savage on the team’s website.

Isaac initially injured his knee in January of 2020, missed several months, and then returned during the Orlando bubble before suffering a torn ACL in August of 2020. Fultz also sustained a torn left ACL, in January of 2021, eight games into last season.

Although Fultz’ injury occurred five months later, it appears he’s closer to making his season debut. President Jeff Weltman says the point guard has begun practicing with the team’s G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic.

As they have their occasional checkups with doctors, and they have imaging, I can just tell you they’re both moving forward and they’re doing great,” Weltman explained. “I can tell you that Markelle, we just sent him down this week to start practicing with Lakeland because they’ll have more live-action situations than we’ll have in the middle of an NBA season. So, he’s starting to ramp up to that phase where he’s actually starting to get involved in some live action. Jonathan isn’t at that point yet, but he continues to make great, steady progress and they’re both doing really well.”

Fultz says he feels good and is eager to return to the NBA court.

I’m very excited with where I am at and where I am going,” he explained. “It’s the next step in the process. When I first got injured, it was all about steps. Knowing it’s going to be a long journey but taking it one step at a time. Right now, I’m in the process of getting back into things, bumping, and getting up and down. Getting my conditioning right. Like I said, I feel really good.”

Weltman says Isaac is working to gain strength in his entire body, not just rehab his knee, and has improved his shot during his long hiatus.

It’s everything. There’s a right way to do this and the most important thing for Jonathan is not just that we address the injury, but his whole body,” Weltman said. “He’s missed essentially two years of action and there’s a lot that comes with that. So, making sure that his body is balanced, that it’s strengthened everywhere, that his core is tight. In the meantime, he’s using the time very productively. His body is filling out, his shot looks way improved from the last time he was on the court, and he’s in a really good place.”

Neither player has a timetable for return. There are some more interesting quotes in the article for Magic fans curious about how the two players are doing.

Here are some more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Joel Embiid (COVID recovery) and Tobias Harris (hip) are both questionable for the Sixers‘ home game tomorrow against Minnesota, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter).
  • Andre Iguodala is traveling with the Warriors on their road trip, but he’s not expected to play against the Clippers (Sunday) or Suns (Tuesday), according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). Iguodala is still dealing with swelling around his right knee, although it’s not considered serious.
  • T.J. Warren has been doing some light court work and shooting with the Pacers recently, writes Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. There should be another update on his status next Tuesday, Nov. 30.

Jalen Suggs Getting More Comfortable, Confident

  • Magic guard Jalen Suggs has struggled a little early in his rookie season, but after putting up 17 points and six assists in a loss to Charlotte on Wednesday, the first-year guard said he’s feeling more “comfortable and confident,” as Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel details. “These past four or five games I’ve felt I’ve kind of turned the corner [from] trying to get adjusted, trying to get my feet wet, because it’s just a completely different situation to now,” Suggs said.

Central Notes: Osman, Vucevic, Grant, Bulls

Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman has settled in to his second unit role and is enjoying a bounce-back season, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Osman has made 43.6% of his 3-point attempts this season and has averaged 20 points over the last three games. He shot 30.6% from deep last year and averaged fewer points while playing more minutes.

“His role is to be a spark off the bench,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Take and make open shots and facilitate when the defense dictates it. We’ve tried our best to simplify his role. He’s bought into the team and he’s trying to do what’s best for the group. He’s become a star in his role.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Center Nikola Vucevic said that being traded to the Bulls last season was a mutual decision between him and the Magic‘s front office, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “It was something that we discussed a lot and it was mutually agreed,” he said. “It wasn’t a situation where they told me I wasn’t going to get traded, and then I get traded. A lot of it came from my communication with them, so it wasn’t a surprise for me. … It wasn’t working the way we wanted it, and I think it worked out for both parties in the end.’’
  • Despite the Pistons’ poor record, The Athletic’s James Edwards III doubts the front office will make any significant trades this season. Jerami Grant is the one significant player who could be moved, but Edwards doubts it. The most likely trade candidates are Josh Jackson (unrestricted free agent) and Hamidou Diallo (team option for next season). Coach Dwane Casey has job security after signing an extension this year, Edwards adds.
  • The Bulls’ reliance on small ball is a concern, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Houston ended its 15-game slide against Chicago, which has lost two straight. The Bulls are now at a pivotal point in their season. “There’s got to be an internal drive,” coach Billy Donovan said. “We have shown signs of doing that. But we haven’t shown signs of doing it consistently enough.”

Pincus Thinks Magic Could Be Among Most Active Teams At Trade Deadline

  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report tries his luck at predicting which teams could be most active in trade talks leading up to the February deadline. Lottery teams like the Kings, Thunder, Magic, and Pistons are among those Pincus views as the best candidates to make moves.