Magic Rumors

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/22/18

Here are Thursday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA.

  • The Cavaliers have recalled rookie center Ante Zizic from their Canton affiliate, the team announced on its website. In 15 games for the Charge, Zizic has averaged 15.7 PPG and 8.9 RPG.
  • The Magic assigned forward Jonathan Isaac to their Lakeland affiliate, according to Orlando’s PR Twitter. Isaac will attend Lakeland’s practice but he is expected to be recalled back to Orlando before the team faces the Knicks on Thursday. Isaac, who has missed almost three months with an ankle injury, is expected to see his first game action tomorrow for the G League squad.
  • The Heat have assigned guard Rodney McGruder to their G League affiliate, the Sioux City Skyforce, the team announced in a press release. McGruder has not appeared in a regular season game after undergoing surgery on a  left tibia stress fracture in mid-October. He is expected to play two G League games on Saturday and Monday before making his NBA return, tweets Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald.
  • The Lakers assigned rookie center Thomas Bryant to the South Bay Lakers for their upcoming two-game road trip, according to the G League team’s Twitter feed. Thomas has averaged 19.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in 27 games with South Bay.
  • The Timberwolves have assigned rookie center Justin Patton to the G League’s Iowa Wolves, according to the team (Twitter link). Patton has yet to make his NBA debut but has averaged 11.9 PPG for Iowa in 25 games.

Vucevic, Gordon Set To Return From Injuries

Isaac Set For Rehab Stint In The G League

  • Rookie forward Jonathan Isaac will test his injured ankle with the Magic’s G League affiliate, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. He will practice with the Lakeland team on Thursday and play on Friday, according to Orlando coach Frank Vogel“I definitely understand why they want me to spend some time there [with Lakeland],” said Isaac, who hasn’t playing since spraining his ankle November 11. “I’m just focused on getting back up here [with Orlando] as fast as possible and getting back around these guys.”

Suns, Mavs Among Potential Aaron Gordon Suitors

The Suns and Mavericks are among the teams viewed as potential offseason suitors for Magic power forward Aaron Gordon, league sources tell Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Gordon will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer.

As Deveney outlines, the Suns should have cap space this offseason and are in need of “more proven” players, making the former Arizona Wildcat an intriguing target. As for the Mavs, they should also have cap space for 2018/19, and they’ve been eager to find a rising star to team up with Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes, Deveney writes.

Gordon, 22, has enjoyed a breakout season for the Magic in 2017/18, though injuries have limited him to just 39 contests. In those 39 games, the former fourth overall pick has averaged an impressive 18.4 PPG, 8.3 RPG, and 2.2 APG.

Because Gordon will be coming off his rookie contract, the Magic will be able to make him a restricted free agent by tendering him a qualifying offer. That will give Orlando the right of first refusal, meaning that even if a team like the Suns or Mavs puts a lucrative offer sheet on the table for Gordon, the Magic would have the opportunity to match it.

While we don’t know for sure that the Magic’s front office intends to match any offer for Gordon, parting ways with the fourth-year forward would leave the club without many young building blocks outside of Jonathan Isaac. As such, I’d be surprised if Orlando simply lets Gordon walk in free agency.

Magic Sign Rashad Vaughn To 10-Day Contract

2:31pm: The Magic have officially signed Vaughn to a 10-day deal, the team announced today in a press release.

12:33pm: Former first-round pick Rashad Vaughn is set to join his fourth NBA team of the last month. According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter), Vaughn has agreed to sign a 10-day contract with the Magic.

It has been an eventful few weeks for Vaughn, who was originally traded from Milwaukee to Brooklyn in the deal that sent Tyler Zeller to the Bucks. From there, Vaughn was dealt to New Orleans by the Nets in exchange for Dante Cunningham. The 6’6″ shooting guard never appeared in a game for the Pelicans, having been waived two days after the trade deadline.

Although he was the 17th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Vaughn has failed to develop into a consistent NBA rotation player. The UNLV product has averaged 3.1 PPG with a .337/.312/.692 shooting line in 134 career NBA contests (12.2 MPG). Still, he’s just 21 years old, so the rebuilding Magic will take a low-risk flier. Current Orlando GM John Hammond was the head of basketball operations in Milwaukee when the Bucks drafted Vaughn in ’15.

The Magic have an opening on their 15-man roster, so they won’t need to waive a player to make room for Vaughn.

Eastern Rumors: Afflalo, Thompson, Johnson, Wizards

Arron Afflalo could be a target for the Raptors if he reaches a buyout agreement with the Magic, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Afflalo played for the Nuggets when Raptors president Masai Ujiri was there, while current Magic president Jeff Weltman is Toronto’s former GM, Lewenberg notes. The career 38.6% 3-point shooter would give the Raptors some insurance at the wing, Lewenberg adds. Afflalo has appeared in 43 games with the Magic, averaging 3.2 PPG in 12.9 MPG. He signed with Orlando last summer on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal.

In other developments around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Knicks are an unlikely destination for Klay Thompson during free agency in 2019, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News relays though an Adrian Wojnarowski podcast. The Warriors shooting guard wants to continue to play in a warm weather city, he told Wojnarowski. “It’d be weird leaving the Bay Area. I believe I’m going to be there for a very long time.,” he said. “I can say that truthfully. But a lot can happen the next two years. It’s going to be hard to leave California when it’s sunny like this.”
  • The Heat are expected to seek offers for combo guard Tyler Johnson as early as this summer but his contract provisions will make that difficult, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald explains. Johnson will make $19.2MM in each of the final two years of the backloaded deal, plus Miami would have to pay a $3.2MM trade kicker, Jackson continues. Any team trading for Johnson this offseason would have to take on the additional $1.6MM cap hit in each of the next two seasons. Miami matched the Nets’ offer sheet for Johnson during the summer of 2016.
  • The Wizards need to do a better job of communicating with each other to avoid locker room controversies, Chase Hughes of writes. The team does not have any unresolvable issues, according to Hughes, but problems like the tension between John Wall and his teammates need to be addressed privately rather than through the media or social media channels, Hughes adds.

Vucevic And Isaac Eager To Return

  • Out since December 23 after fracturing the metacarpal of his left index finger in a loss against Washington, Magic center Nikola Vucevic plans to return to the floor for Orlando’s first game back after the All-Star break – against New York on February 22 – reports Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel“I expect to be back against the Knicks, so I’ll stay in Orlando during the break and keep working on my game,” Vucevic said Monday night. “Then we’ll have two or three good practices before we play the Knicks, so I think it’ll be good for me to use that extra time to work more on my game.”
  • Another injured Magic frontcourt player, rookie Jonathan Isaac, is looking to return soon as well, writes John Denton of Isaac, who has been out since Dec. 26 with recurring right ankle issues, has gained 11 pounds while on what the team called a rehabilitation and conditioning program.

Elfrid Payton Talks Trade, Suns, Future

The Cavaliers’ series of deadline-day trades dominated headlines last Thursday, overshadowing one of the most interesting moves of the day, as the Suns’ acquired Elfrid Payton from the Magic in exchange for a second-round pick.

With Payton’s restricted free agency around the corner, Orlando’s decision to send the 23-year-old to Phoenix signaled that the Magic didn’t view him as part of their future. Still, it was somewhat surprising to see the former 10th overall pick traded straight up for a lone second-round selection.

Speaking to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Payton shared several thoughts on how the trade went down, how he feels about being the newest member of the Suns, and what he thinks his future may hold. The Q&A is worth checking out in full, but we’ll relay some of Payton’s most interesting answers in the space below…

On whether he felt disrespected by being traded for a mere second-round pick:

“A little bit. I think a lot of other people were more upset about it than I was, though. Others took it to heart more than I did, but that’s just because of the type of person I am. I’m pretty nonchalant and I don’t really get worked up, so it wasn’t really that big of a deal to me. I’ve always felt underrated and felt like I have to prove myself. I’m the kind of player who feels like you have to prove yourself every single night – no matter what you’ve done or who you are – because in this league everyone is thinking, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ So it wasn’t too big of a deal to me.”

On the trade in general:

“I’ve seen a lot of people say that it was a steal for Phoenix and stuff like that; I guess time will tell. I heard [the Magic] were offered a lot more than a second-round pick [from other teams], but they just didn’t decide to do one of those other trades… I don’t know all of the details, but I know they had offers from a team in the East and a different West Coast team other than Phoenix.”

On being surprised by the trade:

“About 30 to 45 minutes before the trade actually went down, my agent told me, ‘It seems like the talks are over and it looks like you’ll be staying in Orlando, at least until the end of the season.’ They had heard from [GM] John [Hammond] or [president of basketball operations] Jeff [Weltman] – I don’t know which one exactly, I’m not sure. But they were basically saying the talks were done and a trade was unlikely. Then, maybe seven or eight minutes before the deadline, the deal happened.”

On where his career will go from here:

“I feel like I still have a very high ceiling. Obviously, my shooting has gotten better this year, but I still feel like I can become a way better shooter. And there are still so many different things that I’m learning about the game and so many areas where I know I can improve. For example, I’m finding little tricks to get to the free-throw line more and get my team in the bonus. I’m also working hard to improve on the defensive end. I feel like my ceiling is still pretty high and I have a lot of room for growth.”

On whether he can see himself sticking with the Suns beyond this season:

“Yeah, I really could. Obviously, it’s not only up to me and I understand the business side of the NBA, but this is definitely somewhere I could see myself being for a long time.”

NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots

Now that the dust has settled on last Thursday’s trade-deadline deals and the first round of veteran buyouts and cuts has been completed, it’s worth taking stock of which NBA teams have the flexibility to add a player or two without waivers anyone else.

With the help of our roster counts page, which we update all season, here are the NBA teams with open spots on their 15-man rosters. Open two-way contract slots aren’t included here, since teams are ineligible to sign new two-way contracts at this point in the season.

Teams with a player on a 10-day contract filling their open spot:

  • Phoenix Suns
  • Utah Jazz

Both the Suns and Jazz have 14 players on fully guaranteed NBA contracts, leaving one potential opening. For now, Josh Gray is filling that 15th spot in Phoenix and Naz Mitrou-Long is doing the same in Utah. However, they’re only on 10-day contracts, so both of these teams could soon create an open spot if necessary.

Teams with one open spot:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • New York Knicks
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Sacramento Kings
  • Toronto Raptors

The teams listed above represent a mix of playoff-bound squads and rebuilding non-contenders. Teams like the Bulls, Mavericks, and Knicks could use their open roster spots to take fliers on young players via 10-day contracts, while clubs like the Timberwolves, Thunder, and Raptors may be eyeing the buyout market for veterans who could fortify their respective benches.

Teams with two open spots:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Washington Wizards

NBA rules generally prohibit teams from carrying fewer than 14 players on their 15-man squads. However, clubs are permitted to dip to 13 – or even 12 – in special circumstances, as long as they get back up to 14 within two weeks. Roster moves made last week by the Hawks, Cavaliers, Trail Blazers, and Wizards left them below the limit, so they’ll each have to add at least one player by the end of the All-Star break.

Note: Roster info current as of Tuesday, February 13 at 2:00pm CT.

Hezonja Impresses Magic With Improvements

Willy Hernangomez made it clear that he wanted to play — whether it was in New York or elsewhere — and the Hornets acquired him prior to the trade deadline. The fit seemed odd, given Charlotte’s depth at center. However, the 24-year-old Spaniard can still blossom into an asset, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes.

Hernangomez is still an effective scorer in the post and has some passing skills, which fit into head coach Steve Clifford’s system. Also, Hernangomez’s salary is team-friendly at $1.5MM next season and slightly higher the following year. That allows the Hornets to audition Hernangomez for an extended period; he can either develop into a rotational player or as a future trade chip.

Charlotte has one of the elite centers of the last decade in Dwight Howard to help mentor Hernangomez. “It’s great to have Dwight here. I want to learn so much every day,” Hernangomez said. “(Sunday) morning, he talked to me and gave me advice, and he doesn’t know me a lot. I’m very happy to be with one of the best centers in the league. I’m going to learn a lot from him.

Check out other Southeast Division notes below:

  • After Sunday’s loss, the Hornets are 10 games below .500 at 23-33 and their playoff hopes are fading. Bonnell writes in a separate story that it is time for Clifford to reexamine the team and figure out an effective rotation.
  • Mario Hezonja has shown signs of improvement in each of his three NBA seasons and his recent assignment on Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was a good growing experience, John Denton of writes. “Mario had one of his best nights and defensively he got scored on some, but he had some of his best collisions at the rim that I’ve been begging him to do for two years now,’’ head coach Frank Vogel. “So, he had a big growth night.’’
  • Chris McCullough plays sparingly for the Wizards, usually seeing time toward the end of games. However, McCullough prides himself on having an impact for the team in the minutes he is given, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes.
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