Magic Rumors

Southeast Notes: Ingles, Magic, Rozier, Davis

In an interview with James Herbert of CBS Sports, Joe Ingles said he doesn’t mind being the elder statesman on a surprising young Magic squad.

Orlando gave Ingles a two-year, $22MM contract this summer to serve as a veteran leader, and he’s embraced that role both on and off the court. The 36-year-old has brought a winning mentality to a team with only one other player older than 26, and he’s become an important part of the rotation, averaging 5.0 points and 3.5 assists in 18.9 minutes per night while shooting 39.2% from three-point range.

“I’ve loved the role that I’ve got here,” Ingles said. “I’ve loved every minute of living here and the organization and the players and the coaches.”

Magic coach Jamahl Mosley understands the importance having a seasoned veteran on the roster, especially one who has been part of successful organizations. Mosley notes that Ingles is eager to speak up and share his perspectives with teammates.

“He’s absolutely great for this group,” Mosley said. “He keeps it real with these guys about the things that we’re doing, the things that they’re seeing, what he’s seen throughout the league. And, all jokes aside, he is all about winning. And whatever that means, if he plays eight minutes or he plays 18 minutes, he’s preached the same message to this group about what we need to do to become successful.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic players learned from last year’s slow start and were determined not to repeat it, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. While Paolo Banchero was establishing himself as the top rookie in the league last fall, Orlando stumbled out of the gate, posting a 5-20 record that left the team out of the playoff race by early December. “I remember clearly, in the summertime having dinners with [Mosley] and other players and talking about this exact situation,” Banchero said. “Start off well and try and get as many wins as you can in the first month or two just because you know how important those are later in the year.”
  • Terry Rozier is taking on more point guard duties for the Hornets while LaMelo Ball is sidelined with a right ankle strain, per Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Rozier is averaging a career-high 6.6 assists per game and recorded 13 last Thursday at Brooklyn. “Definitely just getting guys involved early, making sure they feel good,” Rozier said. “Finding guys in their spots, knowing fourth-quarter plays, having a meeting going into the game. So, it just changed in that aspect. But the main thing is winning, so that’s what we are trying to do.” 
  • Johnny Davis has a strained left calf and his condition will be reevaluated weekly, the Wizards announced (via Twitter).

Injury Notes: Beal, J. Murray, Jazz, Magic

Suns guard Bradley Beal has been limited to just three games for his new team so far this season and hasn’t played since November 12 due to back problems. However, the hope is that he won’t be sidelined for too much longer, Shams Charania of The Athletic said during an appearance on The Rally (Twitter video link).

“I’m told Beal has started his ramp-up process and he’s continuing to progress in that ramp-up,” Charania said. “The goal is to track toward a return soon, potentially over the next 10 days, as long as the progress continues. But we know it’s been a fluid process with this back (issue). The back can be something that you have to be cautious with.”

As Charania notes, the Suns are willing to be patient with Beal since their priority is to be healthy when the postseason begins in the spring — they’d rather hold him out for a few extra games now if it means having him available in April.

Phoenix has also been playing relatively well without its third star, lessening the need to get Beal back on the court as soon as possible. Since Devin Booker returned on Nov. 15, the Suns are 8-3 — and Booker sat out one of those three losses.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who injured his right ankle in his first game back from a hamstring injury last Wednesday, is considered questionable to return to action tonight vs. the Clippers, per Bennett Durando of The Denver Post. “Hamstring’s fine. I’ve worked enough to get it back to strength,” Murray said. “Now it’s just another thing.” As Durando points out, Murray would become eligible for a super-max extension if he earns All-NBA honors this season, but he’ll fall short of the 65-game minimum required for All-NBA consideration if he misses five more contests.
  • Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson will miss a third straight game on Wednesday in Dallas due to a right thigh contusion, the team announced (via Twitter). Kelly Olynyk (right shoulder strain) has been ruled out for a second consecutive game, while Lauri Markkanen (left hamstring strain) will remain unavailable for a sixth game in a row. The expectation is that Markkanen will be reevaluated at some point this week, at which time we may get a better sense of his recovery timeline.
  • Magic guard Markelle Fultz (left knee tendinitis), who has been ruled out for a 13th straight game, is “progressing slowly” and still isn’t doing full contact work in practices, head coach Jamahl Mosley said on Tuesday, per Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel (subscription required). Jonathan Isaac, who has logged just seven minutes in Orlando’s past four games due to ankle issues, is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game in Cleveland, Beede adds.

Wagner: Goal Is To Make Playoffs

  • Franz Wagner takes on a variety of topics during an in-depth interview with Hoops Hype’s Michael Scotto. With the Magic off to a hot start, Wagner and his teammates have their sights set on the postseason. “I think we want to make the playoffs,” he said. “Last year, I think we were four or five games out of the play-in, and my first year, we didn’t win a lot of games at all, so that would be really cool. I’d be super excited for it, and we’ve still got more than 60 games left, so we’ve got to make sure that we keep putting in the work every day and keep getting better as well.”

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Ball, Heat, McClung

With Jalen Johnson unavailable due to a wrist injury, the Hawks have been experimenting a little more with different frontcourt combinations, including playing centers Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu alongside one another, writes Lauren Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (subscription required).

The pairing is very much a work in progress, particularly on the offensive end, but it showed some intriguing potential against bigger teams like San Antonio and Milwaukee, according to Williams.

“There’s certain times in the game where that allows itself and there’s certain matchups where I think it pays dividends defensively,” head coach Quin Snyder said. “(Saturday vs. Milwaukee) was one of those nights).”

For his part, Okongwu is on board with the idea of handling power forward alongside Capela if it means he’ll get an opportunity to play a little more.

“Whatever it takes for me to be on the court longer, I’ll do it,” Okongwu said. “Playing the four, it’s obviously is an adjustment but nothing I can’t do.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Hornets guard LaMelo Ball still has a noticeable limp and isn’t expected to return anytime soon, but he’s no longer wearing a walking boot, tweets Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. That’s a promising first step in Ball’s recovery from a severely sprained right ankle, which he’s scheduled to have reevaluated this week.
  • Buoyed by a seven-game winning streak in the first half of November, the Heat are 11-9 after 20 games, but many of their victories have come against subpar competition and they’ve lost four of their last five contests. Jimmy Butler kept coming back to one word when describing the team’s performance so far, per Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “We stand right where we don’t want to be, which is very mediocre, not good, not bad, not great, not any of those things,” Butler said. “Just mediocre. You talk about our offense has been mediocre. You talk about our defense has been mediocre. That’s the word I would use.”
  • Mac McClung, who has been playing for the Magic‘s G League affiliate this season, was named the NBAGL’s player of the month for November, the league announced on Monday (Twitter link). McClung averaged 25.4 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game in nine November contests for the Osceola Magic, but isn’t under contract with Orlando — the 2023 slam dunk champion remains an NBA free agent, available to sign with any team.

Magic’s Mosley, Timberwolves’ Finch Earn Coach Of Month Honors

The Magic‘s Jamahl Mosley has been named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month, the NBA announced today (via Twitter). The Timberwolves Chris Finch earned Western Conference Coach of the Month honors.

This is the first time that Mosley has won the league’s monthly award for coaches. It’s also the first time a Magic head coach has received the honor since Steve Clifford in March/April 2019. During October and November, Mosley guided Orlando to a 13-5 record, which was second-best in the Eastern Conference and third-best in the NBA. The Magic went 11-3 in November.

Finch also gained the honor the first time. He’s the third Timberwolves head coach to win the award and the first since Kevin McHale in January 2009. The team’s 14-4 start marked the best 18-game record to begin a season in Timberwolves history. Finch also led Minnesota to a 13-2 record in November.

J.B. Bickerstaff (Cavaliers), Rick Carlisle (Pacers), Joe Mazzulla (Celtics) and Nick Nurse (Sixers) were the other nominees in the East. Mark Daigneault (Thunder), Jason Kidd (Mavericks), Michael Malone (Nuggets) and Ime Udoka (Rockets) were the other nominees in the West (Twitter link).

Veteran NBA Wing Terrence Ross Retires

Veteran wing Terrence Ross, who played 11 NBA seasons from 2012-23, officially announced his retirement on Friday evening via his podcast (YouTube link).

Ross spent the first four-plus seasons of his career with the Raptors, who selected him eighth overall in the 2012 draft. He was traded to Orlando in 2017 in the deal that sent Serge Ibaka to Toronto and spent parts of seven seasons with the Magic prior to being bought out and waived in February, ultimately signing with the Suns to finish out the 2022/23 season.

The 32-year-old was an unrestricted free agent this past offseason after his deal with Phoenix expired and didn’t end up signing another NBA contract. He confirmed a rumor back in August that he was offered a deal by a Serbian club, but obviously he didn’t accept it.

Ross, who played college ball at Washington and won the 2013 dunk contest, cited injuries and a desire to spend more time with his family as motivating factors in his decision to retire.

Overall, Ross appeared in 733 regular season games, including 187 starts, averaging 11.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists while shooting 36.2% from three-point range in 24.5 minutes per night.

After the Magic won their ninth straight game on Friday night, head coach Jamahl Mosley was asked about Ross’ retirement, as Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel relays (via Twitter). Ross sat courtside at the game.

He just brought such a great joy to this group. … They look up to him, they’re still in chats together,” Mosley said. “I think he’s such a great veteran for our guys with a young group when he was here, it was great to have him.”

Southeast Notes: Adebayo, Heat, Magic, Wizards, McGowens, Smith

Heat center Bam Adebayo went to the locker room in the second quarter of Miami’s Thursday victory over the Pacers after re-aggravating a hip injury, then was later ruled out for the rest of the game.

He came in those last four minutes of the second quarter and he was just getting some treatment at halftime with the intention to come back,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said, per Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “I basically talked to him in my office and just said, ‘Look, you’re laboring like the fourth quarter of the New York game and it’s November right now. I’m not putting you back in in the second half. I’m taking this decision out of your hands.’ I didn’t even talk to the trainers at that point.

This lingering hip issue has caused Adebayo to miss three games this season already. While it hasn’t yet kept him out of action long-term, it’s still worth monitoring Miami’s leading scorer and rebounder.

It’s not, thankfully, something serious,” Spoelstra said. “It’s just you play competitive NBA basketball, you get hit, you’re jumping and you’re twisting, all that stuff. He heals fast, so we’ll continue to treat him and see where we are.

With Adebayo out of action, the Heat turned to Thomas Bryant, who had previously been out of the rotation, but he only logged six minutes to start the second half. Orlando Robinson also saw some action, but Kevin Love took on the brunt of the workload at the position.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Spoelstra made headlines this offseason when he said he felt the Heat were deeper this year than last. At the time, the Heat had just missed out on trading for Damian Lillard and lost Gabe Vincent and Max Strus to free agency. But Spoelstra appears to have been proven right, with Miami’s depth propelling the team in the early parts of the season, Chiang writes in a separate piece. Even with Tyler Herro unavailable, the Heat’s reserves outscored Indiana’s bench 66-23 on Thursday. Love, Josh Richardson, Caleb Martin and Jaime Jaquez are among the bench players currently flourishing. “That’s scary, man,” Martin said. “Shoot, Duncan is coming off a hand injury, you got Tyler who’s not even back in the mix. We got a lot of guys we can turn to and that’s the scary thing about it. … We just got a lot of talented dudes who are ready whenever their name is going to be called.
  • The Magic, whose 13-5 record is the second-best in the NBA, are one of the league’s top teams. Josh Robbins of The Athletic analyzes how Orlando set the standard for what a rebuild should look like, and compares it to how the Wizards have started theirs. As Robbins observes, the Magic sold high on their core at the right time, primarily by turning Nikola Vucevic into Franz Wagner, a baton handoff for franchise cornerstone, by way of trade. Robbins opines that for the Wizards, the best time to trade Bradley Beal, their centerpiece at the time, was from 2019-21. Then, when former decision-makers gave Beal a no-trade clause, it forced newly hired president Michael Winger and general manager Will Dawkins to sell low on the three-time All-Star, failing to kick-start a rebuild in the way the Magic did when they traded Vucevic.
  • Hornets guards Bryce McGowens and Nick Smith are both getting increased opportunities in Charlotte, with each scoring season highs in Thursday’s win over the Nets. “Bryce is just putting a lot of work in and it’s showing,” Charlotte guard Terry Rozier said, per The Charlotte Observer’s Roderick Boone. “That’s all it is. We are all happy for him and hopefully he can keep it going.” Smith said he’s enjoying the chance to contribute as a young rookie.

Magic Didn't Get The Help They Needed To Advance In Tournament

  • The Magic had several chances to advance to the final eight in the in-season tournament, but nothing went their way Tuesday night, per Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando could have won East Group C with a Toronto victory over Brooklyn or a Boston win over Chicago by fewer than 22 points. The Magic also had a chance at a wild card if Miami had won at Milwaukee or New York had beaten Charlotte by fewer than four points. Orlando wound up getting eliminated despite a 3-1 record and a +22 point differential.

Magic Notes: Carter, Fultz, Okeke, Defense

Speaking to the media on Tuesday for the first time since breaking a bone in his left hand nearly four weeks ago, Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. admitted that he was frustrated at the time of the injury, knowing he would likely be facing an extended absence. However, he’s in better spirits now after having his cast removed, writes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel (subscription required).

“Today was probably one of the best days of my life,” Carter said on Tuesday. “When [the doctor] was saying I didn’t have to wear the cast anymore, it was like, ‘OK, it’s another step in the right direction.’ I’m just super excited just to finally get back out there at some point and help this team continue to win.”

According to Beede, Carter expects it will be about two weeks before he gets the green light from team doctors to resume practicing in full. The former seventh overall pick has been replaced by Goga Bitadze, who has started the past 12 games in the middle for the Magic. As Beede writes, Orlando hasn’t missed a beat during that time, improving its record to 12-5, and Carter has enjoyed watching the team’s success from the sidelines.

“We’re one of those teams that can hold their own against any team in this league,” he said. “Being able to sit on the sidelines and watch the joy that everyone’s playing with, [it] just gives me extra confidence, extra motivation so when I come back I’ll be able to play with that same joy and confidence as they are.”

Here are a few more notes on the Magic:

  • Magic point guard Markelle Fultz will miss a 10th consecutive game on Wednesday due to left knee tendinitis. Fultz hasn’t played since November 9 and has only appeared in one game this month, but head coach Jamahl Mosley indicated on Tuesday that he’s “coming along,” per Beede (Twitter link). “We’re going to constantly see how he reacts to just what is happening each day,” Mosley said. “And he’s progressing. We’re just going to continue to evaluate as we go day-to-day with him.”
  • Chuma Okeke is a name to monitor as a possible trade candidate this season, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who notes that teams like the Cavaliers, Suns, Bucks, and Nuggets have expressed exploratory interest in Okeke in the past. The fourth-year forward, who will be eligible for restricted free agency in 2024, is considered a good locker room presence and a hard worker, Scotto adds.
  • Speaking to Marc J. Spears of Andscape, Mosley said the camaraderie and selflessness among the Magic players is one reason why he was confident about the team’s outlook coming into this season. “It’s one of the best groups I’ve been around because it is a genuine care for the next guy,” Mosley said. “… And there was a joy for whoever was successful on any given night. There was never a thing like, ‘Oh, that guy’s got it going, now I need to get mine.’ It was like, ‘Oh man, I’m so proud of you. Keep doing your thing.’ No matter who it was. And that speaks volumes for a younger group.”
  • Both Spears and Josh Robbins of The Athletic took a closer look at the Magic’s hot start this season. Winners of seven straight games, Orlando ranks second in the NBA with a 107.0 defensive rating. “Coach Mos, I give him credit, he came in from training camp saying he wanted to be a No. 1-caliber defensive team in the league,” Paolo Banchero said. “That is what we have been so far. Give huge credit to the coaches for instilling that in us and the players for executing it.”

Schedule For NBA Tournament Non-Qualifiers Set

The NBA in-season tournament will reach the quarterfinal stage next week and the eight qualifiers and their seeds were finalized on Tuesday. The 22 teams that failed to advance had two holes in their schedules that needed to be filled.

Those matchups were determined late Tuesday evening, with each team receiving a home and away contest, NBA Communications tweets. The newly-scheduled games will take place next Wednesday (December 6) and Friday (Dec. 8).

The Cavaliers and Magic, who missed the quarterfinals despite their 3-1 tournament records, will face each other in Cleveland on Wednesday. Cleveland will then visit the Heat (2-2 tournament) on Friday.

The Nets, who also had a 3-1 tournament record, wound up with a road game against the Hawks (1-3) and home game against the Wizards (0-4)

The Sixers, who finished 2-2 in the tournament, drew a road game against the Wizards and a home game against the Hawks.

In the West, the Timberwolves were the only 3-1 tournament team that didn’t reach the quarterfinals. They’ll host the Spurs (0-4) and visit the Grizzlies (0-4).

The defending champion Nuggets will visit Los Angeles to face the Clippers (1-3), then head home to take on the Rockets (2-2). The Warriors, who were knocked out of contention by Sacramento on Tuesday, drew a home game against the Trail Blazers (1-3) and a road contest against the Thunder (1-3).

Here’s the full schedule for next Wednesday and Friday:

Wednesday, Dec. 6

  • Orlando at Cleveland
  • Memphis at Detroit
  • Miami at Toronto
  • Philadelphia at Washington
  • Brooklyn at Atlanta
  • San Antonio at Minnesota
  • Charlotte at Chicago
  • Oklahoma City at Houston
  • Utah at Dallas
  • Portland at Golden State
  • Denver at LA Clippers

Friday, Dec. 8

  • Toronto at Charlotte
  • Detroit at Orlando
  • Atlanta at Philadelphia
  • Washington at Brooklyn
  • Cleveland at Miami
  • Minnesota at Memphis
  • Golden State at Oklahoma City
  • Chicago at San Antonio
  • Houston at Denver
  • LA Clippers at Utah
  • Dallas at Portland

Two more regular season games will be added to the NBA’s schedule after the quarterfinals of the in-season tournament are complete, since the four teams that lose those matchups will require an 82nd game on their respective schedules.