Magic Rumors

Bamba, Rivers, Suggs Suspended For Fight

The NBA has announced suspensions (via Twitter) for three players involved in an altercation during Friday night’s game between the Magic and Timberwolves.

Orlando center Mohamed Bamba was suspended for four games and Minnesota guard Austin Rivers received three games for their roles in the fight. Magic guard Jalen Suggs received a one-game suspension for escalating the incident, and Wolves forward Jaden McDaniels was fined $20K for running into the fray and pushing Bamba in the back.

All four players were given technical fouls and were ejected from the game. Minnesota’s Taurean Prince was also ejected, but he wasn’t disciplined by the league.

Bamba appeared to start the fight with a comment to Rivers after his missed three-pointer late in the third quarter. Rivers took exception and challenged Bamba on Orlando’s bench. Both players threw punches, although it looked like none of them connected. Suggs tackled Rivers, and McDaniels and Prince also got involved.

The NBA’s press release states that Bamba tried to “continue to engage with Rivers in a hostile manner in the corridor outside the locker rooms where he also aggressively shoved a security representative,” which explains why he got the longest suspension.

Five Players Ejected From Magic-Wolves Game After Scuffle

Orlando’s Mohamed Bamba and Jalen Suggs, as well as Minnesota’s Austin Rivers, Taurean Prince and Jaden McDaniels, were ejected from Friday’s MagicTimberwolves game after a scuffle broke out, reports Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscriber link)

It appears as though Bamba may have initiated the incident by saying something to Rivers after he missed a three-pointer, as Markelle Fultz looked absolutely shocked by whatever was said (Twitter video link via Rob Perez).

Clearly Rivers didn’t appreciate the comment, as he returned to Orlando’s bench (Bamba wasn’t in the game at the time), and then a fight broke out between Bamba and Rivers, with punches thrown, though none appeared to connect (Twitter video link via Bally Sports North).

Suggs then ran into the fray and tackled Rivers, with chaos ensuing. Prince and McDaniels were both shoving and trying to get involved, so apparently they were ejected for escalating the altercation.

According to Pierre Noujaim of Fox 9 Minneapolis (Twitter link), Bamba and Rivers tried to continue the fight in the arena hallway after being ejected, and had to be restrained, presumably by security.

All five players are likely to face suspensions and/or fines, with Bamba and Rivers almost certain to receive the most significant penalties.

Bamba is typically a backup center, but he started the game for the Magic, with Suggs a reserve guard. Losing them to suspensions would affect the team’s rotation, but not as substantially as it would the Wolves, as McDaniels is a starter and Prince and Rivers are two of Minnesota’s primary reserves.

Paolo Banchero, Keegan Murray Named Rookies Of The Month

Magic forward Paolo Banchero and Kings forward Keegan Murray have been named the NBA’s rookies of the month, the league announced (via Twitter). It’s the second straight rookie of the month honor for both players.

Banchero, the Eastern Conference winner, averaged 20.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.3 steals on .429/.329/.781 in 14 January games (32.7 minutes per contest). He was the No. 1 overall pick of last June’s draft.

Murray, the No. 4 overall pick, averaged 14.0 points and 5.9 rebounds on an extremely efficient .510/.495/.933 shooting slash line in 15 games (32.2 minutes). He won for the Western Conference.

Banchero and Murray also won the award in December after Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin and Thunder wing Jalen Williams earned the honor for October/November.

According to the NBA (Twitter link), the other nominees in the West were Tari Eason, Jabari Smith Jr., Walker Kessler, Jeremy Sochan and Williams, while Jaden Ivey and Mathurin were nominated in the East.

Sixers Notes: Trade Deadline, Fultz, Niang, Milton

The Sixers are hoping to land a reliable backup center before next week’s trade deadline, sources tell Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Montrezl Harrell and Paul Reed have been filling that role, but Harrell hasn’t been strong defensively and the coaching staff doesn’t fully trust Reed, according to Neubeck.

Neubeck states that the front office is willing to add another big man even if it can’t get rid of Harrell or Reed in the same deal. He mentions former Sixer Andre Drummond, whom the Bulls are reportedly open to trading, as an example of the type of traditional center the team wants to acquire.

Several teams have contacted the Timberwolves about Naz Reid, but Neubeck doesn’t expect him to be an option for Philadelphia. He also says the decision could wait for the buyout market, although it could be tough to find a long-term solution who’s content to be a backup for Embiid.

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Furkan Korkmaz, Danuel House and Jaden Springer are the best candidates to be moved in the type of deals the Sixers are considering, Neubeck adds. He hears from sources that Matisse Thybulle would likely be included in a “higher-end” trade, with the Kings among several teams that have shown interest in the fourth-year guard. Shake Milton, who’s headed for free agency after the season, could be useful as a trade sweetener, according to Neubeck.
  • Magic guard Markelle Fultz had 12 points and 10 assists Monday night while playing his first game in Philadelphia since being traded to Orlando in 2019, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers had hoped Fultz would be part of their foundation after drafting him first overall in 2017, but a combination of injuries and shooting difficulties led to him playing just 33 combined games in his two seasons with the team. “I’ve always been a big fan,” Embiid said of his former teammate. “When we traded him, I was disappointed because I felt like we were giving up on him too early.”
  • Georges Niang and Milton believe too much was made about an on-court argument they had during Saturday’s nationally televised game, per Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Niang was upset about not getting a pass from Milton on a two-on-one break, but they both joked about the incident afterward. “I just told both of them to let it go, that we had a [expletive] game to win,” Embiid said. “I think it’s also good for the team, not a bad thing. Guys get into each other, that makes us better. … After the game, we’re all laughing.”

NBA Announces Player Pool For Rising Stars Event

The NBA officially unveiled the 28-player pool for this year’s Rising Stars event on Tuesday, making the announcement via the NBA App. The following players made the cut:

Rookies:

Sophomores:

G League players:

As was the case last season, the Rising Stars event will consist of four teams and three games. The seven G League players will comprise one team, coached by longtime NBA guard Jason Terry. The other 21 players will be drafted to three squads coached by former NBA stars Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Deron Williams.

The four teams will be split into two first-round matchups and the winners of those two games will face one another for the Rising Stars championship. The two semifinals will be played to a target score of 40 points, while the final will be played to a target score of 25 points.

All three contests will take place on Friday, February 17 as part of All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City. The NBA’s full press release with more information on the event can be found right here.

Banchero Appreciates Criticism Of Coaches

  • Top pick Paolo Banchero says he’s appreciates the tough love approach of his Magic coaches and veteran players, he told Alex Kennedy of Basketball News. “Everyone is here to help me — all of the coaches and a lot of the guys on the team, they all hold me accountable,” Banchero said. “They don’t just let me [do what I want]. If I’m out there making mistakes or not playing up to my abilities, they’re going to let me know about it.  They’re going to challenge me, and that’s why I love them. They don’t hand anything to me.”

Stein’s Latest: Drummond, Agbaji, Magic, Ross, Wizards

Bulls center Andre Drummond is a good candidate to be on the move prior to the February 9 trade deadline, according to Marc Stein, who notes in his latest Substack story that the veteran big man hasn’t been a regular part of Chicago’s rotation as of late.

Drummond wasn’t playing big minutes early in the season either, but has seen his playing time decline further since then, having received a handful of DNP-CDs in January. He has played more than nine minutes in only two games since the calendar flipped to 2023. For the season, the 29-year-old averaging 6.1 PPG and 6.6 RPG in 13.0 minutes per game in 36 appearances — all of those numbers are career lows.

Drummond isn’t on a minimum-salary contract, but his modest $3.2MM cap hit makes him an attainable trade chip for just about any NBA team. He does have a $3.36MM player option for 2023/24, so a club acquiring him would have to be comfortable with the possibility that he’ll exercise that option.

Here’s more for Stein:

  • After having previously reported that the Jazz are willing to listen to inquires about anyone on their roster except for Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler, Stein adds a third name to that list, citing a source who says rookie wing Ochai Agbaji also appears to be off-limits.
  • The Magic are “welcoming” inquiries on Terrence Ross, Gary Harris, Mohamed Bamba, and R.J. Hampton, league sources tell Stein. Rival teams are keeping an eye on Ross as a possible buyout candidate if he’s not moved by February 9, Stein adds. Orlando hasn’t made a habit in recent years of buying out veterans in contract years, but it’s possible that Ross – who suggested last spring that he’d welcome a trade – could push for a change of scenery.
  • Having previously reported that the Suns turned down a trade involving Jae Crowder and Rui Hachimura, Stein corrects the record, writing that the obstacle in those discussions was actually the Wizards’ desire to flip Crowder to the Bucks — the three teams discussed a deal, but couldn’t work out an agreement that appealed to Washington more than the Lakers’ offer.

Raptors Rumors: VanVleet, Anunoby, Siakam, Trent, Achiuwa

Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet, who recently parted ways with his agency, is considered very likely to sign with Klutch Sports, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack story.

VanVleet’s agency change is coming at a pivotal time in his career. The seventh-year guard is headed for unrestricted free agency this summer if he and the Raptors don’t work out an extension before then — and if he turns down his player option for the 2023/24 season, which is viewed as a near-lock.

According to Stein, multiple teams around the NBA hope that the Raptors will start to become more receptive to trade inquires on VanVleet as the February 9 deadline approaches. The Magic have been mentioned more and more often in league circles as a “prime” VanVleet suitor this summer in free agency, Stein adds, though it’s unclear if Orlando would attempt to trade for him at the deadline.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • After having reported in December that the Knicks inquired about a possible deal for Raptors forward OG Anunoby, Ian Begley of SNY.tv follows up on that item by stating that New York was comfortable offering multiple first-round picks in exchange for Anunoby. While that’s notable, it’s worth adding a caveat — the Knicks control multiple heavily protected first-round picks, so being willing to offer a couple of those is much different than being willing to give up two or three of their own unprotected first-rounders.
  • In his aforementioned Substack article, Stein expresses skepticism that either Anunoby or Pascal Siakam is a legitimate trade candidate at this season’s deadline, with Gary Trent Jr. still looking like the Raptor most likely to be moved.
  • In his latest Please Don’t Aggregate This podcast (hat tip to HoopsHype), Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports also downplayed the likelihood of a Siakam trade, suggesting that the star forward wants to be in Toronto. Fischer says he’d be “shocked” if Siakam is on the move in the next couple weeks.
  • No matter what the Raptors do at the trade deadline, the development of big man Precious Achiuwa should be one of the club’s top priorities in the second half of the season, argues Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Achiuwa has been limited to 25 games so far this season due to injury, but has played some of his best basketball as of late, scoring double-digit points in eight of his last nine games, with a season-high 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting in Wednesday’s win over Sacramento.

Isaac Felt Winded Quickly In Return

  • Magic big man Jonathan Isaac scored 10 points in 10 minutes against Boston and five points in eight minutes against Indiana on Wednesday. He hadn’t played since 2020 due to a serious knee injury and admits that he struggled through a 4 1/2-minute stint in the first half of his first game back. “That kind of first wind got to me. That last minute I could barely talk I was breathing so hard,” Isaac said to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez and other media members. “But the second rotation in the second half, that four minutes, I started to just relax and just feel good.”

Pincus’ Latest: VanVleet, Rozier, Russell, Conley, More

There’s a huge market for Fred VanVleet if the Raptors decide to trade him, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

The 28-year-old guard will be a free agent this summer if he turns down a $22.8MM player option, which Pincus says many league insiders expect to happen. VanVleet can negotiate an extension with Toronto through June 30, but the Raptors could try to move him before the deadline if they aren’t confident about reaching a new deal.

Pincus hears that the Heat, Lakers, Clippers, Timberwolves, Mavericks, Suns and Wizards would be among the most interested teams if VanVleet is made available. He also throws in the Magic, who are seeking an experienced lead guard to play alongside their young core.

The Raptors will want a premium price if they decide to part with VanVleet, Pincus adds, with some combination of young talent, draft assets and players on team-friendly contracts.

Pincus looks at a few other guards who could be changing teams before the deadline:

  • With the Hornets near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, they may be willing to consider trading Terry Rozier, who has three more years and nearly $75MM left on his contract. Pincus notes that Charlotte discussed dealing Rozier to the Lakers last offseason and points out that Marc Stein recently identified the Suns as a possible suitor.
  • Pincus hears that the Heat, Suns, Mavericks and Clippers would all be interested in trading for D’Angelo Russell if the Timberwolves can’t reach an extension soon with the impending free agent.
  • Pincus lists the Lakers, Clippers and Timberwolves as teams in the market for Mike Conley if the Jazz decide to part with their veteran point guard. Conley has a $14.32MM guarantee on his $24.4MM salary for next season and would be much cheaper to acquire than Van Vleet.
  • Eric Gordon is attracting interest from the Suns, Lakers and Bucks, but Pincus believes the Rockets may not get the first-round pick they want in return. He suggests Houston might have to settle for a pick swap, using the 2023 first-rounder the team is owed from Milwaukee.
  • The Lakers haven’t given up trying to trade Russell Westbrook, but Pincus says they’re not willing to part with their two available first-round picks unless they get a star in return. He adds that L.A. may focus on smaller deals involving Patrick Beverley and Lonnie Walker in an effort to find wing depth or a backup big man.
  • The Hawks aren’t looking to move Trae Young now, but a source tells Pincus that it could be a consideration during the offseason. Young has clashed with coach Nate McMillan, and Atlanta’s overall turmoil may lead the team to seek a fresh start.