Magic Rumors

And-Ones: Blazers, Chandler, Magic, Grizzlies

The Trail Blazers have started a COVID-19 emergency relief fund to support local non-profits which serve the community, as the team announced on its website. To date, more than $35MM has been raised by NBA and WNBA teams and players to combat organizations impacted by the coronavirus.

As we wait to see when the pandemic will subside and the NBA will return to action, let’s take a look at some basketball notes from around the league:

  • Wilson Chandler was experiencing a late-season surge with the Nets before the coronavirus forced the league to suspend the season, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Chandler will be a free agent come the offseason.
  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic breaks down the Magic‘s improved offense prior to the suspended season, exploring what it might mean going forward. Aaron Gordon spending the majority of his minutes at the four, which is his natural position, played a major role in the team excelling.
  • Regardless of how and when the season resumes (or doesn’t), the Grizzlies showed enough progress to be optimistic about their future, Michael Wallace of contends. Memphis is in the playoff picture and No. 2 overall Ja Morant looks like a future star.

Steve Clifford Discusses Layoff, Isaac, Aminu

Speaking to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, Magic head coach Steve Clifford said that he and his staff are using the NBA’s layoff to “refresh mentally,” but admits he has spending some time every day on film study.

“You do get to watch film at a more leisurely pace when you don’t have a game coming up the next day, and there are certainly things that you can learn,” the Magic head coach said. “That will be part of all of our time. Then we’ll just start to plan for when, hopefully, we get to get back together.”

Clifford also spoke to Robbins about a handful of other topics, including how frequently he’s communicating with Magic players during the hiatus, the strides Markelle Fultz has taken this season, and the possibility of getting Al-Farouq Aminu and/or Jonathan Isaac back when play restarts. Clifford was noncommittal on potential return timelines for Aminu and Isaac.

“If those guys should come back, or one of them, obviously, that’d be great,” he said of the Magic’s injured forwards. “Both of them have been with us (on recent road trips and rehabbing at our facility). It would be like adding a new player from a talent standpoint.”

Aminu Could Return If Season Resumes

  • Magic forward Al-Farouq Aminu might be able to play if and when the season restarts, Josh Robbins of The Athletic speculates. Aminu underwent surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his right knee on January 7 and he was not wearing a brace last week, Robbins notes. Forward Jonathan Isaac, who injured his knee in early January, was still wearing a brace and would be less likely to return, Robbins adds.

Hiatus Notes: Playoff Plans, G League, Magic

In addition to assessing the availability of its own teams’ arenas, the NBA has begun to look into availability at G League venues and practice facilities through the end of August, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

As we relayed on Sunday night, there’s a growing belief that the NBA’s hiatus will extend into at least mid-June, in which case the end of the 2019/20 season and postseason could run well into the summer. As such, the league is exploring all its options as it considers where it might play its games.

Stein explains in a follow-up tweet that venues like G League arenas and practice facilities would only become viable options to host NBA games if they’re closed off to fans. That’s one of many scenarios the league is looking into in an effort to save the playoffs, writes Ben Golliver of The Washington Post.

According to Golliver, some other measures being considered by the NBA include eliminating extra rest days between games, reducing the 16-team postseason field, or hosting a playoff tournament in a single site to reduce – or eliminate – travel between several markets. Commissioner Adam Silver is encouraging teams to be open to “experimental ideas” in when it comes to issues like scheduling format, venues, and television, says ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Here are a few more notes and updates related to the NBA’s coronavirus-related hiatus:

  • For now, like the NBA season, the NBA G League season has been postponed and not canceled. However, there’s an expectation that a cancellation is coming, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews, who say that teams are operating under the belief that they’ve played their final games of 2019/20. NBAGL players were informed over the weekend that they’ll receive their entire base salaries, per ESPN’s report.
  • Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days takes a look at why the G League can’t be treated in the same way as the NBA, and why it’s surprising that the NBAGL season hasn’t yet been canceled.
  • The Magic‘s ownership group – the DeVos family – has established a $2MM fund to compensate team and arena hourly workers for games and time missed, the team announced today in a press release. The club’s announcement indicates that multiple players are also providing financial assistance — we noted earlier today that Mohamed Bamba had vowed to help out.
  • Ramona Shelburne of ESPN took a deep dive into the NBA’s decision last week to suspend season, examining how Rudy Gobert‘s positive coronavirus test changed the equation suddenly and drastically for the league.

Bamba Vows To Donate To Arena Workers

Aminu Endures Disappointing Season

Magic forward Terrence Ross has ramped up his production in recent weeks, John Denton of the team’s website details. Ross is averaging 20.3 PPG over his last 12 games. He’s settled in comfortably as a sixth man after re-signing with the team on a four-year, $54MM contract. “I just have a better understanding of how things go over a long season and I feel like now I know what works and what doesn’t,” said Ross. “I just think I have really found my niche now.”

  • Magic forward Al-Farouq Aminu endured a rough first season with the club, as Josh Robbins of The Athletic details. The highly-regarded defender signed a three-year, $29.2MM contract with Orlando during the off-season but he only played 18 games before injuring his right knee, which eventually required surgery“You have a lot of disappointments throughout life, and you learn how to deal with it,” Aminu said. “I’ve been just been finding the silver lining and finding other things in order to keep myself entertained and keep myself busy and keep myself being productive.”

2019/20 Disabled Player Exceptions To Expire On Tuesday

March 10 is the last day that teams are allowed to disabled player exceptions for the 2019/20 season, which means the six clubs that still have DPEs available will see them expire if they’re not used on Monday or Tuesday.

We go into more detail on how exactly disabled player exceptions work in our glossary entry on the subject. Essentially though, a DPE gives a team the opportunity to add an injury replacement by either signing a player to a one-year contract, trading for a player in the final year of his contract, or placing a waiver claim on a player in the final year of his contract.

Trades are often the simplest way to make use of disabled player exceptions, but we’re well past the 2019/20 deadline, so that’s no longer an option.

There also don’t appear to be any players on the free agent market or on waivers at the moment who are worthy of an investment larger than the veteran’s minimum — especially since there are no true contenders among the five teams with disabled player exceptions still on hand. As such, I expect the remaining six available DPEs to ultimately go unused.

Here’s a breakdown of the eight DPEs granted by the NBA this season, including the two that were used in recent weeks:

Disabled player exceptions still available:

Disabled player exceptions that have been used:

Southeast Notes: Clifford, Carter, Crowder, Robinson

Magic coach Steve Clifford was at practice with his team yesterday after a health scare Friday night in Minnesota, writes Jenny Dial Creech of The Athletic. Clifford had to leave the game against the Timberwolves in the third quarter after feeling dizzy. He was taken to a local hospital and diagnosed with dehydration.

“I’ve been sick for a few days and I realize now that I didn’t eat at all (Friday),” Clifford explained. “I started to get busy with the game and then when it was going on, I was OK. Then it just got really bad and I knew I needed to leave. Once I got on an IV at the hospital, I started to feel better.”

Health is a constant concern for the 58-year-old, who underwent heart surgery in 2013 and took a leave from coaching in 2017, citing severe exhaustion. He said he got plenty of messages from players and coaches Friday night, including a “stern lecture” from Stan Van Gundy.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Vince Carter is receiving farewells around the league during his final NBA season, but the Hawks‘ veteran said last night’s tribute in Memphis was special, relays Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Carter spent three seasons with the Grizzlies and reached the playoffs each year. “It was a great time in my career. This city is different than a lot of places that I’ve been” he said. “They really embrace the players and what they tried to do with the Grit and Grind mentality is a staple not just on the floor but in the city.”
  • Heat forward Jae Crowder has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol after colliding with Zion Williamson during Friday’s game with the Pelicans, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Crowder has been a valuable addition to Miami since being acquired at the trade deadline, averaging 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 12 games.
  • Wizards coach Scott Brooks wants newly acquired guard Jerome Robinson to be more aggressive in getting shots up, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. Robinson has started the past two games and Brooks believes he will make better decisions as he gets more minutes. “(The Clippers) are a playoff team last year and a championship (contending) team this year,” Brooks said. “So he wasn’t getting a lot of playing time. … They’re a veteran team, so they probably weren’t practicing a lot. So he’s just getting some rhythm now. I don’t know where it’s gonna end up. I’m looking forward to keeping working with him and seeing where he gets to the rest of the season.”

Magic Coach Clifford Hospitalized, Released After Falling Ill

Magic head coach Steve Clifford left the team’s bench during the third quarter of Friday’s 132-118 win over the Timberwolves after experiencing dizziness, per ESPN. Clifford underwent preliminary tests at Target Center before he was evaluated and later released from Hennepin County Medical Center.

The Magic announced that Clifford was diagnosed with dehydration and has been cleared to resume his coaching duties. Assistant coach Tyrone Corbin filled in for Clifford following his early departure.

As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted (Twitter link), Clifford had two stents placed in his heart in 2013, but there’s no indication the episode was heart-related.

“It was really crazy,” Orlanda guard Markelle Fultz said after seeing Clifford leave. “At first. I thought he was just going to use the bathroom. I seen him kind of walk off, but when I came out they told me he wasn’t feeling well.”

Luckily, it appears Clifford dodged something serious and should be back on the Magic bench sooner rather than later. At 28-35, Orlando occupies the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Magic are back in action Sunday night against the Rockets, so presumably Clifford will be back on the sidelines for that contest.

Fournier Out; Iwundu's Role To Expand

  • Magic swingman Evan Fournier will be sidelined for an undetermined amount of time with an elbow injury, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. He underwent an MRI which revealed a UCL sprain in his right (shooting) elbow. Wesley Iwundu will likely soak up a good portion of Fournier’s minutes since the team will likely leave Terrence Ross in his sixth man role, John Denton of the team’s website writes.