Otto Porter

Injury Notes: Ingram, Vucevic, LeBron, Magic

An MRI has revealed that Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram suffered a left low-ankle sprain during the team’s 108-103 victory over the Warriors on Tuesday, the team has announced via Twitter. Ingram is set to miss Friday night’s contest against the Sixers and is considered day-to-day with the injury beyond that.

Losing Ingram, the club’s second-leading scorer behind All-Star forward Zion Williamson, could be a major blow for New Orleans as the team strives to qualify for the play-in tournament in a crowded Western Conference field. With a 30-36 record, the Pelicans currently sit just two games behind the Spurs for a shot at the play-in tournament in the West this season.

There’s more injury news from around the league:

  • Bulls All-Star center Nikola Vučević (adductor) was able to fully participate in a team practice today, tweets K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Head coach Billy Donovan commented that the sharp-shooting big man, who has missed the club’s last two games, “looked fine.”
  • Lakers All-Star forward LeBron James will miss at least the next two games and potentially more as he grapples with fresh, sharp pain in his sprained ankle, Dave McMenamin told Rachel Nichols and Richard Jefferson on ESPN’s The Jump (Twitter video link). A source informed McMenamin that James is “focusing on the big picture” right now. “Does ‘big picture’ mean two more games missed? I’m not so sure,” McMenamin said. “He is clearly prioritizing using every bit of time he can to… get back for the playoffs.”
  • Magic head coach Steve Clifford has indicated that five injured players could miss the rest of the 2020/21 NBA season, tweets Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. Point guard Michael Carter-Williams and power forward Chuma Okeke are both sidelined with ankle sprains. Wing James Ennis is unavailable with a sore calf. Injury-prone forward Otto Porter Jr., who has played in just 28 games this season for the Magic and Bulls, is struggling with foot pain. Swingman Terrence Ross has been felled by back spasms. “I don’t even know what the time frame [is],” Clifford conceded. “If you look at the schedule now, it’s seven games, I think it’d be 12 days, and I’m not sure even if any of those guys are that close, to be honest with you.”

Magic Notes: Isaac, Lottery Odds, Porter, Wagner

Jonathan Isaac remains the best young talent on a Magic team filled with players age 23 and younger, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Isaac is sitting out the entire season after suffering a torn ACL last August, but he still has the potential to be the cornerstone of the organization and a future candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, according to Robbins.

The obvious question about Isaac involves durability, as he played just 34 games last season and only 27 in his rookie year of 2017/18. There are also concerns about his development on offense, as Robbins notes that he hasn’t excelled yet as either a shooter or passer. Even so, Robbins sees him as the most valuable asset on the roster.

Markelle Fultz, who has injury issues of his own, ranks second on Robbins’ list, followed by Chuma Okeke, Wendell Carter Jr., Cole Anthony, Mohamed Bamba, R.J. Hampton and Donta Hall.

There’s more from Orlando:

  • A six-game losing streak has the Magic back in line for the best odds for the June 22 lottery, notes Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. The teams with the three worst records will each have a 14% chance to land the top pick, and the Magic have slid into second place, percentage points ahead of the Timberwolves and a half-game in front of the Pistons. Parry examines Orlando’s chances of finishing in the bottom three and finds that the team has the league’s 16th-toughest schedule the rest of the way. You can follow the race for draft position in our Reverse Standings.
  • Otto Porter Jr. continues to get daily treatment on his painful left foot, but the Magic don’t know when he might play again, said interim coach Tyrone Corbin (Twitter link via Parry). Acquired from the Bulls at the trade deadline, Porter has only appeared in three games for Orlando and hasn’t played since April 3. “Some days he’s on the floor, he’ll come out and shoot a little bit and see how he responds,” Corbin said, “and if it’s a positive thing they increase his work a little bit, but if it’s not as good they kind of have to pull him back. But he’s in there every day trying to work it on out and trying to get back on the floor.”
  • Big man Moritz Wagner, who signed with the Magic on Tuesday, could make his debut tonight in Cleveland, according to Parry (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Dedmon, Porter Jr., Snell, Gafford

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.”

Lakers “Strong Frontrunner” To Sign Andre Drummond

The Lakers are considered a “strong frontrunner” to sign center Andre Drummond when he clears waivers, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The team’s star players have been trying to convince Drummond to join them and he is close to making a decision, according to sources (Twitter link).

Drummond finalized a buyout with the Cavaliers on Friday and will officially clear waivers on Sunday evening.

The Lakers can’t give Drummond more than the veteran’s minimum, but they have a starting job to offer as well as a chance to compete for a title. He has only been to the playoffs twice in his nine NBA seasons.

Drummond met recently with the Celtics, who are also a contender for his services. Boston is in the market for help at center after trading Daniel Theis on Thursday.

The Knicks pulled out of the Drummond sweepstakes, deciding against getting into a bidding war, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. With $15MM in cap space, New York is in position to make Drummond the best offer, but the Knicks have decided to use those resources elsewhere.

Berman states that team officials have been watching film on Drummond to determine how he would fit alongside Julius Randle and whether he would be worth the investment if it means taking Mitchell Robinson out of the starting lineup. The Knicks decided they’re set at center with Robinson, Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson providing a solid defensive presence.

New York could still be active on the buyout market, a source tells Berman. Point guard Jeff Teague, who was waived today by the Magic, played for Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota. Other names to watch are small forward Otto Porter, who was traded to the Magic on Thursday and still remains with the team, and center Gorgui Dieng, who was waived Friday by the Grizzlies.

Magic Trade Nikola Vucevic To Bulls

4:37pm: The trade sending Vucevic to Chicago is official, according to a press release from the Magic.

“Anytime you trade a player like Nikola, it is a tough decision to make,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said in a statement. “‘Vooch’ will go down as one of the best players to ever wear a Magic uniform and we can’t thank him enough for all the contributions he made to the organization, both on and off the court.”


10:05am: The Magic are trading All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and veteran forward Al-Farouq Aminu to the Bulls, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (all Twitter links).

According to Wojnarowski, Orlando will receive Wendell Carter, Otto Porter, and a pair of future first-round picks in the deal. Those picks will be the Bulls’ own 2021 and 2023 first-rounders, Woj adds (via Twitter). Both will be top-four protected, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter links).

The agreement comes as a major surprise. While Vucevic has been mentioned in some trade rumors in the weeks leading up to the deadline, he had talked about being happy with his current situation, and there was a belief that the Magic were reluctant to move their lone All-Star and shift into full-fledged retooling mode. Wojnarowski (Twitter link) had reported earlier today that Orlando was still listening to offers for the big man, but would have to receive a substantial package to pull the trigger on a deal.

The Magic apparently believe the Bulls’ offer qualifies as substantial. In addition to the future first-round picks, which are the prized assets in the return, Orlando will also receive a former lottery pick in Carter who was highly regarded coming out of Duke and is still just 21 years old. Carter has been plagued by injury issues through his first three NBA seasons and his production hasn’t really increased since his rookie year, but he’s still viewed as a player with upside.

Orlando will also gain some longer-term salary relief in the trade. While Porter is earning more ($28.5MM) this season than any of the other three players involved in the swap, his contract will expire this summer. Vucevic is owed and Aminu are owed a combined $34MM+ next season, and Vucevic is under contract for one more year beyond that, so the Magic will have much more cap flexibility going forward.

The move also signals that Aaron Gordon is even more likely to be dealt today, with the Magic headed for a reset. The odds of the team moving Evan Fournier and/or Terrence Ross figure to increase as well. As Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets, Orlando will boost the odds of landing a top pick in the 2021 draft by trading away veterans — that lottery pick, combined with the return of Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz next season, could help accelerate the team’s rebuild.

The Bulls, meanwhile, weren’t among the teams listed as having significant interest in Vucevic in a report earlier this month, but decided to take a big swing and will add a second All-Star to a core headlined by Zach LaVine.

The team’s front office wanted to bring in a “productive, serious-minded veteran” to be a cornerstone in Chicago, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), and zeroed in on Vucevic, who has posted a career-high 24.5 PPG this season to go along with 11.8 RPG and 3.8 APG. His .406 3PT% is also a career-best mark.

Taking on Aminu’s multiyear contract will add some money to the Bulls’ cap in 2021, but the club was projected to have plenty of flexibility, so that shouldn’t be an issue. Vucevic’s contract is also relatively team-friendly — he’s making $26MM this season, but that number will decline to $24MM in 2021/22 and $22MM in ’22/23.

It will be interesting to see whether the Bulls have more up their sleeve before today’s deadline. The team has been taking calls to gauge Thaddeus Young‘s value, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link), and remains in the mix for Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

It will take more than just Lauri Markkanen to acquire Ball, tweets Johnson. New Orleans may want Chicago to take on an unwanted multiyear contract, such as Eric Bledsoe‘s.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buyout Rumors: Drummond, Porter, Wall, Ellington, Nuggets

The buyout market for Andre Drummond is expected to center around the Lakers and Knicks, says Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

Reports earlier this week indicated that executives around the NBA widely view the Lakers as the favorites to land Drummond, given the team’s ability to offer him an immediate role and an opportunity to compete for a title.

However, the Knicks are an interesting wild card, since their leftover cap room would allow them to offer Drummond a multiyear contract worth eight figures annually without having to wait until the summer.

Drummond’s buyout agreement with Cleveland is in the works, while LaMarcus Aldridge‘s with the Spurs is already a done deal. Here are a few more notes and rumors on the buyout market:

  • Multiple teams are keeping an eye on Otto Porter as a potential buyout candidate following the trade that will send him from Chicago to Orlando, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). However, the Magic‘s plan for now is to hang onto Porter, a source tells Haynes.
  • The Rockets and John Wall aren’t discussing a buyout, league sources tell Haynes (Twitter link). Wall has two years and $91.6MM left on his contract after this season, so it would’ve been a shock if the two sides were already looking at a possible buyout.
  • After retaining Wayne Ellington through the trade deadline, the Pistons have no plans to buy out the veteran sharpshooter, says Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).
  • Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link) expects the Nuggets to take a long look at the buyout market, especially if an appealing shooting guard becomes available.

Trade Rumors: Hill, Bledsoe, Redick, O. Porter, Knicks, More

George Hill‘s name has come up more frequently in conversations among team executives as the trade deadline approaches, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, adding that the Clippers, Lakers, and Sixers are among the teams with interest in the Thunder guard. Hill hasn’t played since January 24 due to a thumb injury, but is out of his cast and is working toward a return, as Brandon Rahbar of Daily Thunder tweets.

While some clubs are hoping the Thunder will buy out Hill, that seems unlikely, since he has another partially guaranteed year left on his contract, and buyouts aren’t really Sam Presti‘s “M.O.,” as one assistant general manager tells Fischer.

Plus, the Thunder are in position to take on salary in trades if it nets them greater draft compensation, Fischer writes. Oklahoma City is one of two teams – along with New York – that remains below the salary floor this season, as John Hollinger of The Athletic observes, so the club could take on about $12MM without taking any real financial hit.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • A number of Pelicans players were prominently involved in trade rumors in January and February, but some of that talk has died down as of late, according to Fischer, who says there doesn’t seem to be any real traction toward an Eric Bledsoe deal. As for J.J. Redick, a buyout seems more likely than a trade at this point, per Fischer.
  • Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. is available in trade discussions, but would probably only make sense as a salary-matching piece for a high-salary player, such as DeMar DeRozan, writes Fischer. If Porter remains in Chicago through the deadline, it’s possible he could emerge as a buyout candidate.
  • The only way the Knicks would realistically pull the trigger on a Victor Oladipo trade this week is if the team receives assurances that he’ll re-sign this summer, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who says the team isn’t interested in giving up any real assets for a rental.
  • Potential buyers are expecting – or at least hoping – that the price tags on certain big-name trade candidates, such as Oladipo, Aaron Gordon, and Harrison Barnes, will drop as the deadline nears, tweets Chris Mannix of SI.com. I’m not sure that’s a safe bet, since it seems to be a sellers’ market.

Bulls Notes: Markkanen, Porter, Young, LaVine

As the Bulls get ready to resume the season, they could have a couple of important players back in the lineup, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Lauri Markkanen, who has missed 13 games with a strained right shoulder, and Otto Porter Jr., who has been sidelined for 15 games with back spasms, practiced Wednesday and may return tonight. Both players remained in Chicago during the All-Star break to do rehab work.

Markkanen, who wore an undershirt with padding on the shoulder, told reporters he feels “good to go.” The coaching staff doesn’t plan to have him on a minutes restriction whenever he returns. Porter called his back issue a “weird pain” that was easy to reaggravate by doing simple tasks.

“I feel good about what they did today. Both guys went through everything,” coach Billy Donovan said after Wednesday’s practice. “Both guys went through contact. Both guys played. I think the biggest thing for me is when you come out of a late, unnormal practice time where you are finishing up at 7 (p.m. CT) the guys have to go in right now and meet with the medical staff, go through rehab. We’ll see how they are feeling. Certainly they are moving closer and closer to playing.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • The Spurs’ decision to part ways with LaMarcus Aldridge may affect the trade market if the Bulls decide to unload Thaddeus Young, points out K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. Teams that have been considered possible destinations for Young, such as the Celtics and Trail Blazers, are now believed to be in the running for Aldridge.
  • Porter dismissed rumors that he might seek a buyout, saying his focus remains on doing whatever he can to help the Bulls, Johnson adds in the same story. Porter is making $28,489,239 this season and is headed for free agency this summer. “I’ve just been in the gym every day, trying to get my body back,” he said. “Whatever is going on out there, I have no idea about. My agent would probably tell me if something was going on, but he hasn’t said anything.”
  • The Bulls didn’t hold a formal organizational meeting during the break to talk about potential trades, but Donovan tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that there have been frequent discussions on the topic among the front office and coaches.
  • In case you missed it, Bulls guard Zach LaVine is among the 15 new players under consideration for the U.S. Olympic team.

Blazers Rumors: Open Roster Spot, McCollum, Nurkic, More

The Trail Blazers have held their 15th roster spot open for the entire regular season so far, but hope to fill that spot in the coming weeks via the trade or buyout market, says Jason Quick of The Athletic. According to Quick, Portland will be looking to add a player who will “unquestionably be in the rotation for the remainder of the season.”

Quick cautions that the Blazers likely won’t make a major move like they did in 2017 when they acquired Jusuf Nurkic at the deadline — the goal will simply be to add a player who is more productive and/or reliable than back-of-the-rotation contributors such as Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little, and Rodney Hood.

A wing who can shoot would be an ideal addition, according to Quick, who notes that Bulls forward Otto Porter is a player that Blazers president Neil Olshey has liked for a long time. Porter would only be a realistic target if he’s bought out.

If Portland can’t find a wing who can shoot, the club may shift its focus to addressing the backup point guard spot, per Quick. Simons has been handling that role for much of the year and has shot the ball well, but his ball-handling has been a little shaky.

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • The Blazers still haven’t set exact dates for their respective returns, but there’s a sense that CJ McCollum (foot) and Jusuf Nurkic (wrist) are days, not weeks, away from getting back on the court, according to Quick.
  • A source tells The Athletic that Portland isn’t considering signing big man DeMarcus Cousins, who reached the free agent market last month.
  • In addition to having an opening on their 15-man roster, the Blazers also have an open two-way contract slot. However, the club has no plans to fill that opening, since any two-way player would just be “a warm body” on the bench, says Quick.
  • The Blazers are about $1.8MM below the luxury tax line and are “adamant” about not crossing that threshold, which will be a factor in what trades they’re able to make and how much they’re willing to offer to players on the buyout market.

Warriors Reportedly Have Interest In Victor Oladipo

The Warriors have interest in acquiring Rockets guard Victor Oladipo, league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

Houston just acquired Oladipo in January in the four-team trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn, but with the Rockets near the bottom of the NBA’s standings and Oladipo set to reach unrestricted free agency this summer, there has been plenty of speculation he could be on the move again before the March 25 trade deadline.

As O’Connor explains, the Warriors’ interest in Oladipo suggests the team would like to add another ball-handler to take some of the pressure off of Stephen Curry. A secondary ball-handler on the wing could play a role similar to the one that Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala played on Golden State’s title teams, O’Connor notes.

[RELATED: Warriors Viewed As Potential Trade-Deadline Wild Card]

It’s not clear what Golden State would be willing to give up in an offer for Oladipo. Rookie center James Wiseman and the Timberwolves’ 2021 first-round pick (top-three protected) are the Warriors’ top trade assets, but it’s probably safe to assume they wouldn’t put Wiseman on the table for a UFA-to-be like Oladipo, who still hasn’t captured his All-Star form since returning from a quad tendon injury a year ago. As O’Connor observes, Houston likely won’t be able to demand a significant return for the 28-year-old.

If the Warriors did make an offer for Oladipo, either Andrew Wiggins or Kelly Oubre would almost certainly have to be included for salary-matching purposes. The Rockets could probably demand more significant draft assets if they were willing to take on Wiggins’ pricey multiyear contract rather than Oubre’s more affordable expiring deal.

League sources tell The Ringer that Bulls forward Otto Porter – who is on a $28.5MM expiring contract – is another player who has drawn some interest from the Warriors. He’d be a more realistic target if he’s bought out, which some executives think could happen, O’Connor says.