Anthony Black

Southeast Notes: Adebayo, Wright, C. Martin, Magic Rookies

Bam Adebayo will become the first Heat player to start in an All-Star Game since Dwyane Wade did it in 2016, having been named to the Eastern Conference starting lineup by head coach Doc Rivers as an injury replacement for Joel Embiid, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

As Rivers observed on Saturday, with the East’s All-Star roster relatively heavy on guards and wings, Adebayo was the most obvious choice to replace Embiid in the middle.

“My lineup decision was easy,” Rivers said. “I looked at Big Joel out, what other (center) do we have on the team, and Bam got the honor. It’s good for him, too. It’s funny, I told him in locker room. He didn’t know. I thought he knew because I told the league yesterday that he did know. You could tell he was very happy about it.”

As Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes, Adebayo had already joined an exclusive group by becoming the sixth player in franchise history to earn three All-Star nods as a member of the Heat, joining Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal, Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh. However, Sunday will be his first All-Star start.

“It’s going to be a dope experience,” Adebayo said. “Just going to really cherish that moment and thankful to God and all the people who support me through all the ups and downs. We’ve added something new to our list.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • In a separate story for The Miami Herald, Chiang examines how Delon Wright will help the Heat once the veteran guard clears waivers and officially signs with the team. Wright may not play a significant role when Miami’s roster is fully healthy, Chiang acknowledges, but he’s a talented defender who takes care of the ball on offense (82 assists to 11 turnovers this season) and will upgrade the club’s depth.
  • Cody Martin has been beset by injuries since finalizing a four-year, $31MM deal with the Hornets in 2022, but he’s finally healthy and is producing like Charlotte hoped he would when he signed that contract, notes ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Insider link). Lowe refers to Martin as a tough and selfless player who would have real trade value if he finishes this season strong, given his team-friendly contract ($8.12MM guaranteed in 2024/25; $8.68MM non-guaranteed in ’25/26).
  • Anthony Black has played a far more significant role this season than fellow Magic lottery pick Jett Howard, but the team’s front office remains “really excited” about both players, president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman tells Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. “Jett’s done really well in Osceola,” Weltman said, referring to the Magic’s G League affiliate. “Those guys are on different paths right now but we’re very high on Jett as well. He’s got a lot of gifts.”

Magic Notes: Isaac, Banchero, Suggs, Black

Magic forward Jonathan Isaac plans to be available tonight in Dallas for the second game of a back-to-back, writes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. It’s a significant step for Isaac, who has seen his career derailed by injuries over the past three years.

Isaac played 23 minutes Sunday against Phoenix with nine points and three rebounds, marking the second straight time he has exceeded 22 minutes. He has already missed 18 games this season, including seven in a row recently with a strained right hamstring, and he’s working with coach Jamahl Mosley and the team’s training staff to make sure he’s healthy for a potential playoff run.

“I’m getting there,” Isaac said. “Just talking with coach and figuring out how I’m coming along and what’s going to be the direction. I’m just telling them I’m ready to go. I’m going to continue to just take it one game at a time.”

Isaac was Orlando’s starting power forward early in his career, but ACL injuries cost him two full seasons and limited him to 11 games in 2022/23. He has become a valuable defensive presence off the bench, and his coach hopes to be able to use him more often as the season wears on.

“We’re able to push a little bit more of the limits of what he’s able to do and that’s going to continue to happen,” Mosley said. “We’ll just look at it on a game-to-game basis more than where we’ll fully go. Because it’s also (about) how he responds to these games and what it looks like for him.”

There’s more from Orlando:

  • Sunday’s win over the Suns was significant for a Magic team that has been sliding down the Eastern Conference standings following a hot start. Paolo Banchero tells Beede that the players need to regain their focus for the second half of the season (Twitter link). “We’ve just got to come together as much as we can, pick up the communication, pick up the intensity, and get back to being together as a group,” Banchero said. “It’s just that point in the season where it starts feeling like a grind for a lot of guys, including myself. We’ve just got to fight through it, push through it, come together as a group and be there for each other.”
  • Jalen Suggs left Friday’s game at Memphis in the first quarter due to a bruised left knee, but he was able to return on Sunday, Beede tweets. Suggs was back in his usual role, starting and posting 10 points, four rebounds and five assists in 32 minutes.
  • Isaac is impressed by rookie guard Anthony Black‘s desire to match up with the NBA’s best scorers, Beede adds (Twitter link). “There was one moment where I saw he wanted to guard (Devin) Booker and coach had told him to guard somebody else,” Isaac said. “… And he was frustrated. To have a young guy that wants to guard and wants to be in the game to make plays like that speaks to who he is. He’s going to continue to get better.”

Franz Wagner To Return Sunday For Magic

After missing the past eight games — and most of a ninth — with a right ankle sprain, third-year forward Franz Wagner is returning to the Magic‘s starting lineup on Sunday vs. Miami, per Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link). The team confirmed the news (via Twitter).

In addition to having Wagner back, the Magic are also re-inserting Markelle Fultz and Wendell Carter into the starting lineup, according to Beede. Both players started much of last season and to open 2023/24, but they’ve both missed 25-plus games due to injuries this season. That will move rookie guard Anthony Black and big man Goga Bitadze back to the bench — they’ve started most of the season to this point.

As Beede tweets, this is only the fourth time the opening-night starting lineup of Fultz, Jalen Suggs, Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Carter has started together in ’23/24.

Wagner, 22, was injured on January 3, just five minutes into a loss vs. Sacramento. Including that game, Orlando went just 3-6 without Wagner. After starting the season 16-7, the Magic have gone 6-13 since to currently hold a 22-20 record, good for the No. 8 seed in the East.

Prior to the injury, the 6’10” German was averaging career highs in multiple statistics this season, including points (21.3), rebounds (6.0) assists (4.0) and steals (1.2) per night through 33 games (34.2 MPG). Wagner is a former lottery pick (No. 8 overall in 2021) who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension in the offseason.

Wagner has been very durable to this point in his career, appearing in 79 games as a rookie and 80 last season. He had yet to miss a game in ’23/24 before sustaining the right ankle sprain.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Black, Bagley, Livers

The Hornets were expecting to improve once their roster got healthier, but it hasn’t worked out that way, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Charlotte dropped its fifth straight game Sunday at Miami and its second since LaMelo Ball returned after missing 20 games with a severely sprained right ankle. The two losses with Ball have been by 36 and 17 points, and the players understand that something has to change.

“I think we are going to talk it over at a players’ only (meeting) and I think we are going to figure it out,” Terry Rozier said, “because as bad as things are going, we are only five, six games behind a (play-in tournament spot). We win the next three, things can turn for us. We’ve just got to believe that as a team and put that effort toward it.”

Postseason talk doesn’t seem realistic for a team with just one victory in its past 17 games. The Hornets are struggling everywhere, as the offense failed to reach 100 points Sunday for the third time in four games and coach Steve Clifford lamented a lack of effort on defense.

“A bunch of stuff is happening,” said P.J. Washington, who was back in the lineup after missing three games with a sprained ankle. “If I had the answers, I feel like things would be different. But for us, we’ve just got to buy into the process and keep trying to get better each and every day and have a better attitude and play more together.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Rookie guard Anthony Black has become the Magic‘s best defender and has gotten used to matching up with elite scorers every night, notes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. Black’s 108.1 defensive rating is tops among all rookies who average more than 15 minutes per game and ranks 25th overall in the NBA, according to Beede. “Really just getting more settled in,” Black said. “Game by game, I feel like I’m getting more comfortable and finding my spots — just being aggressive when I’m out there and disrupting the game on defense.”
  • Marvin Bagley III and Isaiah Livers will get a chance to prove themselves with the Wizards, but fans shouldn’t expect them to be a lot better than they were in Detroit, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic says in a discussion with Josh Robbins about Sunday’s trade. Edwards views Bagley as a proven low-post scorer with limited impact on defense, while Livers was a huge disappointment as a shooter this season.
  • The Wizards created a $3.5MM trade exception in the deal with the Pistons, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Washington could have structured the trade to create an exception worth $6.8MM, but it would’ve required the team to use an existing $12MM+ TPE.

Southeast Notes: Magic, Martin, Young, Coulibaly

Three starters and another rotation player sat out Friday’s game with injuries, but the Magic barely missed them in a 32-point win over Detroit, writes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. With Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs, Wendell Carter Jr. and Jonathan Isaac all unavailable, Orlando got production from Caleb Houstan, Chuma Okeke, Anthony Black and Goga Bitadze, who made his 17th straight start since Carter fractured the third metacarpal in left hand.

“We’ve said it from training camp and on, it’s a ‘we.’ No matter who it is, no matter who steps on that floor, they’re ready to go,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “That’s what it says about our coaching staff, about these guys taking ownership of who we are.”

The Magic have shown tremendous depth and resilience in response to the bad injury luck, posting a 15-7 record that has them tied for second in the Eastern Conference. Mosley has been particularly impressed with Black, a rookie guard who was moved into the starting lineup when Fultz began experiencing left knee tendinitis in early November.

“He’s a kid that wants to take on every challenge,” Mosley said. “He does things that I haven’t seen certain guys do in a while with his length and size. That’s where his confidence comes from.”

Mosley didn’t provide many details about Suggs’ right ankle sprain, Beede tweets, saying team doctors are going to monitor how much he improves from game to game.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Injuries have also been an issue for the Heat, who were missing three starters in Friday’s loss to Cleveland, notes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Miami has dropped five of its last seven games, but Caleb Martin doesn’t believe being short-handed should be used as an excuse. “It doesn’t matter who’s out there and who’s playing, who’s not,” Martin said. “We know what we should be doing, we just got to be better.”
  • Hawks guard Trae Young has been fined $25K for “confronting and directing inappropriate language toward a game official,” the league announced (via Twitter). The incident took place after Wednesday’s one-point loss to Brooklyn as Young thought he was fouled by Dennis Smith Jr. while trying to get off a potential game-winning shot (Twitter video link). The league’s last-two-minute review confirmed that Smith’s play was legal, tweets Kevin Chouinard of
  • Wizards rookie Bilal Coulibaly studies a lot of game film to see where he can improve, and he concentrates on Kyle Kuzma as much as himself, according to Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports. “I watch the whole game to see how he plays. There’s a lot to take,” Coulibaly said of his teammate. “He’s been talking to me a lot about eventually going through the guy when going up for the layup. He’s got some great advice for me.”

Southeast Notes: Black, James, Avdija, Gallinari

Anthony Black made his first career start against the Lakers on Saturday in place of injured Markelle Fultz and the rookie Magic guard left a strong impression, Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel writes.

Black, the sixth pick of the June draft, contributed 11 points and two assists and didn’t make a turnover in 30 minutes.

“He embraces moments, he’s got a high-basketball IQ, he’s tough and he’s a team guy,” head coach Jamahl Mosley said. “He’s willing to make the easy play, the easy pass and the right decisions. Those are things that stand out the most and his maturity for a young man in his rookie year.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • LeBron James, whose Lakers played against Miami on Monday, spoke at length about his time with the Heat. James indicated he had a singular purpose when he bolted his hometown team to play there, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “I came here for one reason and for one reason only, to win championships. That was my only goal,” he said. “That’s the only reason that I teamed up with (Dwyane Wade) and (Chris) Bosh. Because I felt like I couldn’t do it in Cleveland. So I had an opportunity to be a free agent, I did what I thought was best not only for my career but for me at that point in time.”
  • Wizards forward Deni Avdija, who signed a four-year extension last month, has displayed an improved perimeter shot in the early going. He has made half of his 3-point attempts so far this season, Josh Robbins of The Athletic notes. “I’m making better decisions. I’m smarter,” Avdija said. “I’m more experienced. And I feel like my shot has really improved. It’s still early in the season — I want to knock on wood — but it’s heading in the right direction. I feel like I’m making really good steps.”
  • Avdija drew comparisons to current teammate Danilo Gallinari entering the 2020 draft. Coach Wes Unseld Jr. says that comparison doesn’t hold up. “I would not have compared those two coming out of the draft… Maybe it’s more just the path to the NBA is in sync,” Unseld told Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network. “Playing professionally at a young age, getting drafted, coming to the States. That path I think is probably where it ends.”

Eastern Notes: Gobert, Fournier, Van Gundy, Wizards, Black, Howard, Hayward

Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert is disappointed that fellow Frenchman Evan Fournier has an uncertain future with the Knicks and an undefined role, he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Post. Fournier anticipated during the offseason that he would be traded.

Gobert calls Fournier “the best shooter on the Knicks.”

“I think he can contribute and help a lot of teams,” Gobert added. “I think everybody knows it. But it’s kind of weird when you end up on the bench and you don’t really know why. Sometimes you can be stuck in a situation — I know he’s going to have an opportunity again, and everybody will understand that he can help and win. And do it at a high level. And do it every night.”

We have more Eastern Conference news:

  • Jeff Van Gundy, who was hired by the Celtics as a senior consultant, has a longtime admirer in president of basketball operations Brad Stevens. “Jeff has been an unofficial consultant for so many of us that grew up in coaching for a long time,” Stevens told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. “He’s so humble and approachable, and has always gone out of his way to spend time helping others.”
  • The Wizards’ Deni Avdija (back), Patrick Baldwin Jr. (knee) and Taj Gibson (groin) were all full practice participants on Sunday, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Anthony Gill (hamstring) and Landry Shamet (toe) were the only players who didn’t fully participate.
  • Magic coach Jamahl Mosley felt lottery picks Anthony Black and Jett Howard showed improvement in the team’s second preseason contest against Clevleand, according to Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel. “That second game, they were settled down,” Mosley said. “Our coaches did a tremendous job of watching film with them to help them see what they’re able to do and they settled in that second game.”
  • Hornets forward Gordon Hayward (right foot discomfort) missed the team’s preseason contest against Oklahoma City on Sunday, the team’s PR department tweets.

Southeast Notes: Preview, Kuzma, Poole, Avdija, Magic

David Alridge, Eric Nehm and Josh Robbins of The Athletic recently previewed the Southeast Division. Both Aldridge and Robbins think the Wizards overhauling their front office was the most impactful move a Southeast team made this offseason, while Nehm thought the Hornets showing confidence in LaMelo Ball by giving him a max extension was arguably the biggest move.

As for decisions that might backfire, Aldridge questions the Magic selecting Anthony Black sixth overall in June’s draft. He wonders where another point guard will fit into Orlando’s rotation, especially one with a shaky jump shot on a team in need of floor spacing.

Nehm believes the Hawks might regret trading John Collins, as he’s a firm believer in the power forward’s talent and wonders if he was the right player to move. As for Robbins, he thinks the Heat got worse by not making a major trade while losing Max Strus and Gabe Vincent in free agency.

The three writers also chose breakout candidates for the division, with Aldridge selecting Hornets forward Miles Bridges, Nehm picking Magic forward Franz Wagner, and Robbins going for Magic point guard Markelle Fultz.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • How can Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole become All-Stars in 2023/24? Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network explores that topic, writing that the two Wizards will have to increase their scoring averages to 25-plus points per game, lead the team to a winning record at the All-Star break, and improve their statistics in non-scoring categories.
  • There were rumors during the summer that Wizards forward Deni Avdija was dealing with a hip injury. However, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said Avdija will be a full participant in training camp. He looks strong,” Unseld said, according to Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). “I think he had a tremendous summer.”
  • Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel lists five Magic storylines ahead of training camp. Can reigning Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero improve his scoring efficiency and defense? Will the team attempt more shots and become more accurate from three-point range? Those are two of the questions posed by Beede.

Southeast Notes: Adebayo, Lillard, Young, Coulibaly, Magic

The Heat’s pursuit of Damian Lillard could give Bam Adebayo a chance to team up with a close friend, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. They formed a bond while winning a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, which is one of the reasons Miami stands alone on Lillard’s list of preferred destinations. Adebayo said that along with Lillard’s obvious talents, his “demeanor” could help the Heat make another run at a title.

“How he walks, how he talks, how he presents himself, we have a lot of those similar characteristics,” Adebayo said. “Dame isn’t the loudest person. I’m not the loudest person. We’re two down to earth people that gelled well in the Olympics.”

Adebayo was speaking from his youth basketball camp, where he got plenty of questions about Lillard from the participants. Miami hasn’t made much progress toward a deal because its offers haven’t appealed to Portland and it hasn’t been able to find another team to help facilitate a trade. Adebayo couldn’t offer any inside information, but he urged the campers to remain patient.

“The biggest thing is business,” he said. “Everybody wants it to make sense. Everybody on their side wants it to make sense. Obviously, other sides want it to make sense, too. So I feel like it’s just a waiting game until they reach an agreement, if or when it does happen.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks guard Trae Young is interested in joining Team USA for the 2024 Olympics (Twitter link from ClutchPoints). Young discussed the possibility in an interview with Gilbert Arenas, saying, “Obviously, I definitely want to … It’s up to them if they want me to … I respect the OGs and understand that you got to take your turn, but I believe that I should be on.”
  • Bilal Coulibaly tells Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington that the Wizards were the only team he met with before the draft. Coulibaly’s Metropolitans 92 team was in the French League finals, so he wasn’t able to participate in the normal pre-draft process, but he flew to Washington for a private meeting a few weeks before draft day. Coulibaly said he understands the responsibility of being the first pick of the new front office led by general manager Will Dawkins and Monumental Basketball president Michael Winger. “That’s just that they can trust me,” Coulibaly said. “They know I’m going to do the job for sure. They want me to play defense at first because that’s my biggest tool, so I’m going to do it. They don’t gotta worry about it.”
  • Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel examines how Magic lottery picks Anthony Black and Jett Howard are planning to spend the rest of the summer as they prepare for their first NBA training camp.

Players Who Signed July 1 Are Now Eligible To Be Traded

The peak of the NBA’s transactions season has calmed down after an active start to July, but a few more players have become eligible to be traded on the final day of the month, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).

The 30-day trade restriction window has expired for draft picks who signed their contracts on July 1, along with six players who inked two-way contracts on that date.

The designation won’t matter for those at the very top of the draft, as the Spurs and Trail Blazers obviously won’t consider trading Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson, respectively. However, it could come into play for a few others, especially if more big-name players are on the move as the summer winds down.

In addition to those top-three picks, first-rounders who signed on July 1 are the Magic’s Anthony Black and Jett Howard, the PacersJarace Walker and Ben Sheppard, the Trail BlazersKris Murray and the Heat’s Jaime Jaquez. The No. 18 pick out of UCLA, Jaquez has been mentioned as a potential asset in a trade to bring Damian Lillard to Miami.

Two-way players who signed on July 1, according to’s transactions log, are the SixersTerquavion Smith and Ricky Council, the Heat‘s Dru Smith and Jamaree Bouyea, the Trail Blazers Ibou Badji and the RocketsTrevor Hudgins.

Most veteran free agents who signed this summer won’t become eligible to be traded by their teams until December 15 or January 15, depending on their circumstances. Those signings didn’t become official until July 6 or later because of the NBA’s summer moratorium.