Magic Rumors

Bulls Notes: Roster Turnover, LaVine, Markkanen, Ball

The Bulls were among the most active teams at the trade deadline, adding five new players to their roster, but so far the changes haven’t worked out the way they hoped, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. Chicago has gone just 3-7 since then while playing a difficult schedule that featured nine road games and seven against playoff contenders.

“Every night we have one category I would say we don’t perform well,” said center Daniel Theis, who was one of the new additions. “One night it’s turnovers that cost us a game. (Sunday), we didn’t get to the line a lot. (Monday) we didn’t shoot the ball well from 3. Now we’ve got to put together a complete game. If we play defense like (Monday) and we make our shots, we’re gonna win games.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Before the Bulls hosted Orlando tonight, Magic coach Steve Clifford talked to his former center, Nikola Vucevic, about the adjustment to a new team, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “He’s getting comfortable here (with Chicago),” Clifford said. “I think it’ll be a great place for him. He’s very upbeat, very excited about his teammates … loves (Bulls coach) Billy (Donovan).”
  • The decision to trade for Vucevic was a way for the Bulls’ front office to show Zach LaVine that they’re serious about winning, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of Bleacher Report. LaVine is expected to turn down an extension offer from Chicago and test the free agent market in 2022.
  • The addition of Vucevic has cut into Lauri Markkanen‘s playing time and there’s reason to question whether he’ll return next season, Blakely adds. Vucevic and Markkanen both excel as scorers, but haven’t been effective as a defensive combo. “In the right kind of system, Markkanen could be a really good player,” an Eastern Conference executive told Blakely. “I don’t know if Chicago is it; it’s certainly not it if they think him and Vucevic can play together.” The Spurs may make a strong effort to sign Markkanen this summer, according to Blakely.
  • The Knicks are eyeing Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball in free agency and their main competition could come from the Bulls, sources tell Marc Berman of The New York Post. Chicago was involved in trade talks regarding Ball at last month’s deadline.

Checking In On Traded 2021 First-Round Picks

It’s been nearly two months since we checked in on the status of 2021’s traded first-round picks, and there have been plenty of shifts in the NBA standings since then. Those changes have an impact on where in the draft certain traded picks will land, as well as whether or not some protected picks will change hands at all.

With just over a month left in the 2020/21 regular season, it’s worth revisiting the traded first-round picks for 2021. With the help of our reverse standings tool, here’s our latest look at which of those traded picks are most and least likely to change hands, and which ones are still up in the air:


Picks that will definitely change hands:

  • Knicks acquiring Mavericks‘ pick (unprotected).
  • Rockets acquiring Bucks‘ pick (top-nine protected swap).

The only unprotected traded pick for the 2021 draft, the Mavs’ selection currently projects to be the No. 21 overall pick. That would be a reasonably good outcome for the Knicks, but there’s even more upside here — since Dallas is currently the No. 7 seed in the West, a win in the play-in tournament may be necessary to secure a playoff spot.

The NBA has yet to clarify exactly how draft positioning will be affected by the play-in results, but presumably if the Mavs don’t clinch a postseason berth in the play-in, that pick would move into the lottery.

Meanwhile, the Rockets will acquire the Bucks’ pick, currently projected to land at No. 24 overall, in a swap for their own second-rounder (No. 32, for now).


Picks that definitely won’t change hands:

  • Grizzlies acquiring Jazz‘s pick (1-7 and 15-30 protection).
  • Pelicans acquiring Lakers‘ pick (8-30 protection).
  • Rockets acquiring Pistons‘ pick (top-16 protected).

The Jazz are definitely making the postseason and the Pistons definitely aren’t, so their picks (currently projected to be No. 30 and No. 4, respectively) won’t change hands.

The Grizzlies should at least be able to count on getting Utah’s first-rounder in 2022, when it will become top-six protected. It may be a while before the Rockets get a pick from Detroit though — that first-rounder remains heavily protected in 2022 (top-16), 2023 (top-18), and 2024 (top-18) before those protections start to loosen a little.

As for the Lakers‘ pick, it isn’t technically a lock yet — there’s theoretically a scenario in which L.A. misses the playoffs and then moves into the top four in the lottery, sending its pick to the Pelicans. But that’s an extreme long shot. The Lakers’ pick is at No. 23 for now.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Knicks have the ability to swap their own 2021 first-rounder for the Clippers‘ pick. At the moment though, New York’s pick would be No. 15 and L.A.’s would be No. 26, so that won’t happen.


Still up in the air:

  • Warriors acquiring Timberwolves‘ pick (top-three protected).
  • Magic acquiring Bulls‘ pick (top-four protected).
  • Thunder acquiring Warriors‘ pick (top-20 protected).

That Timberwolves pick will be a fascinating one to watch in the lottery. If Minnesota finishes with a bottom-three record, there will be a 40.1% chance it remains in the top three.

The Warriors will actually be rooting for the Wolves to finish with the NBA’s worst record, since in that scenario, there’s a 59.9% chance the pick lands at No. 4 or No. 5. If the Wolves instead have the third-worst record, the pick would be just as likely to land in the top three, but could slip as far as No. 6 or No. 7.

The Magic will have a good chance of landing the Bulls‘ pick, which currently projects to be the No. 10 overall selection. If Chicago remains in that spot, there would only be about a 14% chance of the pick moving up into the top four.

Golden State’s own pick, which currently projects to be No. 13, is unlikely to be sent to the Thunder unless the Warriors get hot late in the season. Assuming the Warriors’ first-rounder is protected, Oklahoma City would instead receive Minnesota’s second-round pick (currently No. 31).


Latest on the Rockets/Thunder/Heat/Blazers/Nets situation:

As a reminder, this series of trades and pick swaps is too convoluted to fit cleanly into any of the above sections. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

  1. The Thunder will have the right to swap either their own first-round pick or the Heat’s first-round pick for the Rockets‘ first-round pick, but only if Houston’s pick doesn’t fall in the top four. In other words, if Houston gets a top-four pick, the Rockets will keep their own first-rounder; if not, the Thunder will get the two most favorable picks of their own, the Heat’s, and the Rockets’, and Houston will get the least favorable.
  2. Once the first step is complete, the Rockets will be left with at least one first-round pick, and almost certainly two, since they’re also owed the Trail Blazers‘ first-rounder (top-14 protected). They would then have the right to swap either of those picks for the Nets‘ first-rounder (unprotected).

As of today, the Rockets have the second-worst record in the league, giving them a 52.1% chance of having their pick land in its top-four protected range on lottery night. In that scenario, Houston would keep its first-rounder (tentatively No. 2) and would get the Trail Blazers’ pick at No. 22. The Thunder would keep their own pick (No. 6, pending lottery results) and receive the Heat’s first-rounder (No. 17), while the Nets would hang onto their own selection (No. 27).

On the other hand, if the Rockets’ pick falls outside of the top four, the Thunder would acquire it along with their own first-rounder, while Houston would get Miami’s pick at No. 17.


No matter how the rest of the season plays out, it’s safe to assume that lottery night on June 22 will have massive implications for the Timberwolves, Warriors, Rockets, and Thunder, and potentially for the Magic and Bulls as well.

While the Pistons, Cavaliers, and a handful of other lottery teams will also be invested in the results that night, the outcome won’t be quite as all-or-nothing for those clubs.

Magic Waive Karim Mané

3:08pm: The Magic have made it official, announcing in a press release that they’ve waived Mané. It’s the third roster move of the day for Orlando, as the team also ended Cannady’s 10-day contract and signed Hall to a 10-day deal.


8:26am: The Magic are expected to waive rookie guard Karim Mané, who is on a two-way contract with the team, according to Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link).

Mané, who will turn 21 next month, signed a two-way contract with Orlando in November as an undrafted free agent out of Vanier College in Canada. He has appeared in just 10 games for the Magic, averaging 1.1 PPG and 1.4 RPG in 8.8 minutes per contest.

Mané saw more action in the NBA G League when he was assigned to the Walt Disney World bubble for the NBAGL’s 2020/21 season, but failed to take full advantage of the opportunity. In 15 games (22.3 MPG) with the Lakeland Magic, he recorded 5.5 PPG and 5.1 RPG with a dismal .340/.098/.364 shooting line.

According to Parry, Mané’s impending release is expected to be the first in a series of moves that will lead to Orlando signing Donta Hall to a 10-day contract.

Since Mané has been occupying a two-way contract slot and Hall will join the 15-man roster, it’s not clear what the next step is for the Magic — it’s possible the team is eyeing a two-way deal for one of its two young players currently on 10-day contracts (either Devin Cannady or Robert Franks).

Donta Hall Signs 10-Day Contract With Magic

APRIL 13: The Magic have officially signed Hall to a 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release. In order to create room for Hall on the 15-man roster, Orlando released Devin Cannady from his 10-day deal, which had been set to expire on Thursday night.

The Magic are also reportedly planning to waive two-way player Karim Mané, so we’ll wait to see if Cannady ends up returning to the team on a two-way contract of his own.


APRIL 9: The Magic will add big man Donta Hall to their roster on a 10-day deal, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Hall also signed a 10-day contract with the Raptors in February, but didn’t appear in any games for Toronto. He played three games for the Raptors’ G League affiliate in the Orlando “bubble,” along with nine games for G League Ignite, averaging a combined 10.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per night.

The 23-year-old had brief NBA stays last season with the Pistons, who signed him to a pair of 10-day contracts, and the Nets, who added him as a replacement player for the summer restart. Hall played nine total games as a rookie, averaging 4.3 PPG and 4.2 RPG.

Orlando has a roster opening, so it won’t have to make a move before adding Hall. He will earn $99,020 on the 10-day contract.

Western Notes: Gordon, Redick, Walker, Little

Aaron Gordon asked the Magic to trade him because he had grown weary of trying to change that franchise’s culture, he explained to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Gordon is thrilled to play for a prime contender like the Nuggets.

“I felt like it was time,” Gordon said of his trade request. “I spent a good seven years in Orlando doing my best to change the culture, uplift the culture, turn the culture into a basketball mecca. That’s the ultimate goal. It was difficult. I was looking for insight. Looking to be a part of a winning culture, to see what that is really about, instead of being a part of a culture that you’re trying to turn into a winning culture.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • J.J. Redick was in uniform on Monday for the first time since the Mavericks acquired him from the Pelicans at the trade deadline last month, Dwain Price of Mavs.com tweets. He participated in his first full practice with Dallas on Saturday. The veteran guard has been sidelined since March 3 by a sore right heel and Achilles and underwent a non-surgical procedure last month. Dallas traded for Redick to have another outside shooting option heading into the postseason. Redick entered Monday’s game in the first quarter.
  • Spurs forward Lonnie Walker revealed that a wrist injury has nagged him throughout the season, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News tweets. Walker missed nearly three weeks of action before returning this past weekend. “It was extremely frustrating,” he said. “I’ve been dealing with this hand/wrist injury for a few months prior to me sitting down. For me to sit down is probably one of the hardest things in the world for me to do.”
  • Trail Blazers swingman Nassir Little has earned more playing time at shooting guard, Jason Quick of The Athletic writes. The team’s first-round pick in 2019 played 24 minutes against Detroit on Saturday and contributed 11 points. “We’ll be doing it again,” coach Terry Stotts said. “He still has to learn some of the tricks of the trade as far as guarding perimeter players — coming off pin downs, guarding pick and rolls — but I think he is capable of doing that and we have to continue to see how he does in that role.”

Magic Sign Robert Franks To 10-Day Deal

APRIL 12: The Magic have officially signed Franks to a 10-day deal, the team announced today in a press release.

The move gives Orlando a full 15-man roster, meaning that if the club still intends to sign Hall, it will have to happen after one of the current 10-day contracts expires (or after the Magic waive someone).


APRIL 10: The Magic are planning to sign forward Robert Franks to a 10-day contract, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Franks, 24, went undrafted in 2019 out of Washington State but ended up signing a two-way deal with the Hornets. He never saw time in the NBA and was waived by Charlotte in January 2020.

Franks later inked an Exhibit 10 deal with the Magic last November but was waived less than a month later. He later suited up for the Lakeland Magic, Orlando’s G League affiliate, during the 2020/21 bubble season.

In 14 G League games with Lakeland, Franks averaged 12.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 1.5 APG.

The Magic currently have 13 players on standard contracts, with Devin Cannady on a 10-day deal and Donta Hall also expected to sign a 10-day pact at some point. If Orlando wants to sign both Franks and Hall before Cannady’s 10-day deal expires next Thursday, the team will need to waive someone else to make room on its 15-man roster.

Magic Haven't Held Buyout Discussions With Otto Porter Jr.

Heat center Dewayne Dedmon is ready to help his new team in any way he can as Miami looks to establish playoff positioning in the coming weeks, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes.

Dedmon, 31, signed a rest-of-season contract with the Heat earlier this month and is available to make his season debut on Sunday against Portland. He’s expected to provide depth for a Miami team that also has Trevor Ariza, Bam Adebayo, Andre Iguodala, Nemanja Bjelica and Precious Achiuwa in the frontcourt.

“I feel like I fit on the defensive end, helping with the rim protection, helping rebound, getting more opportunities for these shooters we’ve got here,” Dedmon said of his fit with the club.

“So I come in, block a couple of shots, get a couple more offensive boards, provide a little more offense for the guards. I feel like that will help a lot. … I’m not Bam. I’m not looking to come in here and do what Bam does. I come in here and try to fill a defensive void that I feel like they need.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • The Magic and forward Otto Porter Jr. didn’t hold any buyout discussions prior to Friday’s playoff eligibility waiver deadline, Marc Stein of the New York Times reports (via Twitter). Orlando acquired Porter in a deal with Chicago featuring Nikola Vucevic last month. The 27-year-old – who also didn’t have any buyout talks with the Bulls, per Stein – has appeared in three games with the team so far and is set to become a free agent this summer.
  • Hawks guard Tony Snell has suffered a right ankle sprain and bone bruise, the team announced (Twitter link). In addition to Sunday’s game against Charlotte, Snell will also miss Tuesday’s game against Toronto and will be re-evaluated when the club returns to Atlanta.
  • The Wizards were encouraged with the return of center Daniel Gafford against the Suns on Saturday, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. Gafford had missed the last six games with a sprained ankle. He finished with nine points, five rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes against Phoenix, playing off the bench. “It felt great,” Gafford said. “With the limited time that I was out there, it felt natural and it felt good to be out there after this six-game stretch where I’ve been missing. It was kind of sore at the end, but other than that I just felt good being able to get up and down the floor.”

Khem Birch Clears Waivers, Signs With Raptors

6:35pm: The signing is official, the Raptors announced on Twitter.


4:38pm: Birch has confirmed his plans to sign with Toronto, tweeting, “I’m excited for the next chapter of my career with @raptors.”


4:08pm: Former Magic center Khem Birch has officially cleared waivers and will join the Raptors for the remainder of the season, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Toronto was expected to be Birch’s next destination, as long as he cleared waivers today. Any team that claimed him would have inherited the $3MM expiring contract he had with Orlando. If Birch’s signing takes place Sunday, he will earn $416K for the rest of the season and the Raptors will have a $389K cap hit, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Birch gave back $413,964 in a buyout deal with the Magic, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).

Even if Birch signs right away, he’s not expected to play in tonight’s game at Cleveland, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. There’s a chance his Raptors debut could come Sunday in New York, Lewenberg adds. Toronto has been struggling through injuries and will only have nine players available tonight (Twitter link).

Birch, who was born in Montreal and went to school in Ontario, will become the sixth Canadian to play for the Raptors in team history, according to Lewenberg (Twitter link).

The 28-year-old served as the Magic’s primary backup center for most of the year, but his role was diminished as Orlando began to emphasize its younger players. He averaged 5.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 48 games this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bulls Trade Didn’t Take Vucevic By Surprise

Former Magic center Nikola Vucevic was aware that he could be dealt prior to the blockbuster than sent the All-Star big man from Orlando to Chicago, he told Alex Kennedy of Basketball News in a Q&A session.

“It wasn’t out of nowhere, we’d had discussions prior to it, so it was kind of mutual; it wasn’t just out of nowhere,” Vucevic said. “They pretty much just let me know that the trade was happening and said, ‘You’re going to Chicago.’ Honestly, even though I had an idea that it could happen, it was still a big shock to me.”

The Bulls are 3-5 in games that Vucevic has played since the deal. He’s averaging 22.9 PPG, 10.3 RPG and 3.6 APG for Chicago, which currently holds the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference, the last postseason berth under the new play-in format.

Vucevic had more than an inkling that he could be headed to the Bulls.

“I knew that there were a couple (of interested teams), but I didn’t know where I’d land or all of the details because that’s something that the front office was handling,” he said. “But I knew of the teams that were interested; I knew that part.”

Here’s more from Kennedy’s interview with Vucevic:

  • Vucevic is impressed by the Bulls’ roster and believes they’ll be contenders in short order.  “That’s one thing I’m very excited about: the team has great potential. It has very good structure, and we’re built to be successful for years to come, which is very important in this league. “
  • Vucevic played with some talented guards in Orlando over the years but he says Zach LaVine is better than any of them. “I’ve never played with anyone who’s as good of a scorer as Zach is, so I think it’s going to be great for me to have a guy like that on the ball a lot. In some of the games, it’s shown already in some of our two-man game action, although we haven’t played together a lot. It’s going to be hard to defend.
  • Vucevic believes that the trade showed potential free agents that Chicago is intent on becoming relevant again in the East. “I think by making these moves, the Bulls already sent a strong message to the rest of the league that they really want to win now, but making the playoffs would send a strong message, too. And when you make that step and have some success, it also attracts other people to want to play for a team like that.”

Magic Notes: Bamba, Birch, Harris, Cannady

The Magic decided to waive Khem Birch on Thursday so they can give more playing time to their two young centers, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. The 28-year-old Birch is expected to sign with the Raptors once he clears waivers Saturday, leaving Orlando with Mo Bamba, 22, and newly-acquired Wendell Carter Jr., who will turn 22 next week, as the team’s future in the middle.

Bamba has been slowed by injuries and conditioning concerns since being selected with the sixth pick in the 2018 draft. He was averaging just 12.0 minutes per game this season as the third-string center, but he’ll get a chance to develop his game now that Birch and Nikola Vucevic are both gone.

“It’s the opportunity I’ve been looking for since being drafted, and now is the time to go out there and play and just get better,” Bamba said. “It’s been a difficult road since being drafted, but the time is now and I’m here to seize the opportunity to do more for this team.”

There’s more from Orlando:

  • The Magic were reluctant to part with Birch, who was a team leader and represented one of the best moves by president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond, Robbins adds. Birch went undrafted in 2014 and played in Turkey and Greece before Weltman and Hammond convinced him to try the NBA in 2017. “He’s the guy that when you sit and watch film and you’re breaking down opponents … he’s going to be easy to respect,” coach Steve Clifford said. “He defends fours. He defends fives. He’s a great screener. Coaches constantly ask about him, and he’s a winning player.”
  • Shooting guard Gary Harris appears ready to make his debut for Orlando tonight, tweets Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Acquired from the Nuggets in the Aaron Gordon trade, Harris has been sidelined since February 17 with an adductor strain. “I’m excited. It’s been a long time coming,” Harris said. “I’ve been around the team for a little bit now, so I’m excited to finally get out there and play with the guys.” (Twitter link)
  • Devin Cannady‘s efforts to reach the NBA paid off this week when he signed a 10-day contract with the Magic. “It’s been a goal of mine to get to this level,” the G League Finals MVP said. “I had a great training camp with them. I love the staff here, the coaching staff and players. I’m excited to get going and be a part of this rebuild for the next 10 days and make the most of this opportunity.” (video link from NBA.com)