Franz Wagner

Magic Notes: F. Wagner, Carter, Banchero, FA Targets

Magic forward Franz Wagner, who has missed the past two games with a sprained right ankle, returned to action on Friday in Philadelphia in a matchup with major playoff implications (Twitter link via the team).

Wagner is a critical piece for Orlando, having averaged 19.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.8 APG and 1.0 SPG through 70 games (32.4 MPG). Orlando has a 43-27 record with the 22-year-old in the starting lineup, but has gone just 3-7 in games he has missed.

The No. 8 overall pick of the 2021 draft, Wagner will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer.

Here are a few more notes on the Magic:

  • While Wagner’s return was a positive development, center Wendell Carter Jr. picked up a pair of early fouls defending Joel Embiid and was wincing when he exited the court in the first quarter, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Carter is questionable to return to the game due to back spasms, according to the Magic (Twitter link).
  • 2022 No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero achieved his preseason goal of becoming an All-Star, and he would be thrilled if he earns a spot on an All-NBA team, he told Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. “Honestly, this year was more … I was trying to be an All-Star,” Banchero said. “But if (All-NBA) was to happen, that would be awesome. It’s an exclusive club, you know what I mean?
  • As Fischer writes, Banchero has developed nicely in his second season, becoming a better screen-setter both on and off the ball as well as a more advanced play-maker. “That was something that really took on itself this year. Understanding that it starts with me, it starts with Franz,” Banchero said. “Just everyone understanding their role and how important their role is. We need everybody. There have been games where (Jonathan Isaac) has single-handedly shut down a guy, and it’s lifted us to get a win. There’s been times where I’ve had to score the last 18 points of the game just to keep us afloat. There’s been times where Franz took over. Where Jalen (Suggs) took over. We just need everybody. I think it’s translating into a lot of success.”
  • In the same story, Fischer cites league sources who say rival teams expect Orlando to target shooters and scorers like Warriors wing Klay Thompson or Kings guard Malik Monk in free agency. Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, who covers Golden State, recently said it was “one of the worst-kept secrets in the league” that the Magic may offer Thompson “a ton of money” this offseason.

Southeast Notes: Bertāns, Micić, Wizards, Wagner

Hornets forward Dāvis Bertāns joined the team alongside Tre Mann and Vasilije Micić at the February trade deadline, but wasn’t viewed as a centerpiece of the deal that sent Gordon Hayward out of Charlotte. However, as The Charlotte Observer’s Roderick Boone points out, Bertāns is performing well for the Hornets after working his way into the rotation, averaging his most points (8.8) and minutes (20.8) per game since he was with the Wizards in 2020/21.

Bertāns quickly became one of former head coach Steve Clifford‘s trusted reserves, with the team running set plays for the dangerous three-point scorer. In his 27 games with the Hornets so far, he’s shooting 37.3% from deep on 6.3 attempts per night. In fact, he has 18 games with multiple three-pointers made off the bench, marking the most in the NBA during that stretch.

He’s a terrific shooter, obviously, but he creates a lot of problems for the defense just with his movement,” Clifford said. “And he never holds the ball. He either shoots it or moves it, which is the play.

Bertāns’ play provides a glimpse into what could be next season when LaMelo Ball is healthy, with the 6’10” allowing the star guard more room to maneuver with his floor-stretching capabilities. However, Boone ponders whether Bertāns will remain with the team next season. Bertāns has an early termination option for next season worth $16MM and could get multiyear offers from contending teams if he hits the open market, Boone writes.

For what it’s worth, Bertans seems to have enjoyed his time in Charlotte so far this season.

I’ve always loved shooting in [Spectrum Center], so it’s good to have more games [there] than before,” Bertāns said. “And definitely the crowd. Even though the season hasn’t been great winning-wise, the fans have been great and it’s a lot more people in [that] arena than other teams that are not making the playoffs. So, I think a bright future is ahead for the organization.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Like Bertāns, Micić didn’t play much for the Thunder after coming over from Europe to begin his NBA career this season. However, he has turned a corner after earning playing time with the Hornets, averaging 11.3 points and 6.4 assists in his first 28 games (19 starts) with Charlotte. “I’m more comfortable every day,” Micić said this week, according to “… I’m trying to play more relaxed, at my own rhythm, without chasing anything. It’s hard when you don’t have enough minutes, but at this moment, with these circumstances, I have these minutes, and I’m just hoping it looks good from the outside.” Micić is in the first year of the three-year, $23.6MM deal he signed last offseason. He’s under contract for about $7.7MM next year and has a team option worth $8.1MM in 2025/26.
  • At 15-65, the Wizards are wrapping up what will be the worst season in franchise history in regard to record. ESPN’s Dotun Akintoye explores Washington’s rebuild and how the Wizards have gotten to this point. Akintoye cautions against the ritual of losing and expecting to lose, along with the lack of cohesion that can follow.
  • Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said Franz Wagner is “progressing slowly” from his right ankle sprain, according to Orlando Sentinel’s Jason Beede (Twitter link). “He’ll go through some work tomorrow as well and we’ll continue to see how he responds to those treatments,” Mosley said.

Southeast Notes: F. Wagner, Rozier, Butler, Hayward

The Magic got good news on Monday, according to Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel, who reports (via Twitter) that Franz Wagner will be questionable for Tuesday’s contest in Houston. An MRI confirmed the initial diagnosis of a right ankle sprain, Beede adds, but the fact that the third-year forward has a chance to suit up tomorrow after exiting Sunday’s contest with the injury is a positive development.

Wagner, who helped Germany win a gold medal at last year’s World Cup, will be eligible for a rookie scale extension in the offseason. The 22-year-old has averaged 19.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.8 APG and 1.0 SPG through 70 games (32.4 MPG) for Orlando, which is currently 46-32, the No. 3 seed in the East.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Heat guard Terry Rozier said he hurt his team by suiting up in Sunday’s loss to Indiana due to a neck injury that limited his effectiveness and caused him to sit out the entire fourth quarter. He’s questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. Atlanta, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (subscriber link).
  • Wizards guard Jared Butler was recently promoted from a two-way deal to a three-year standard contract. His new contract pays him $1.25MM for 2023/24, but it doesn’t feature any guaranteed money beyond this season, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Washington, which completed the signing using a portion of its mid-level exception, will hold a team option on Butler for ’25/26, Scotto adds.
  • Sunday marked a homecoming of sorts for Gordon Hayward, who signed a lucrative long-term deal with the Hornets four years ago before being traded to the Thunder in February, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Perhaps fittingly in an unfortunate sort of way, the oft-injured veteran sat out the game with a lower left leg injury. Boone argues Hayward’s $120MM contract should be a cautionary tale for the new front office to spend wisely when signing free agents going forward.

Eastern Notes: Wagner, Carter, Cunningham, Middleton

The Magic have a major injury concern as the playoffs approach. Franz Wagner, who is averaging 19.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists, suffered a sprained right ankle during the third quarter tonight against Chicago, the team’s PR department tweets.

Initial X-rays were negative, but Wagner didn’t return to the contest. The Magic are battling for home court advantage in the opening round.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Bulls signed Jevon Carter to a three-year, $19.5MM contract last summer to fortify their backcourt. Carter hasn’t played nearly much as he anticipated, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times notes, and hopes to get a better idea this offseason what the organization plans to do with him next season. “I just want to hear something that makes sense. That’s all,” Carter said. “That’s all I’m looking for, just clarity.” Carter played in 81 games for Milwaukee last season and averaged 22.4 minutes per night. He has appeared in 68 games this season, averaging 13.6 minutes.
  • Pistons star Cade Cunningham missed his third consecutive game on Saturday against Brooklyn due to knee soreness. However, he hasn’t been ruled out for the season, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. “We do expect him back (this season). He’s working his tail off to get back on the floor,” coach Monty Williams said.
  • Bucks wing Khris Middleton departed early from his team’s game against the Knicks on Sunday. Middleton had a tooth knocked out, Newsday’s Steve Popper tweets. Donte DiVincenzo inadvertently hit him in the face and Isaiah Hartenstein fell on top of him on the play. Middleton has appeared in just 51 games this season, including a 16-game absence due to a right ankle sprain.

Southeast Notes: Highsmith, Rozier, Jones, Wright, Magic, Forrest

Heat swingman Haywood Highsmith has been cited for careless driving after being involved in a car accident that left a man hospitalized, reports Angie DiMichele of The Sun Sentinel. The citation is not considered criminal, but Highsmith was described in a police report as driving in a “careless or negligent manner,” per DiMichele.

Highsmith’s agent Jerry Dianis issued a statement describing the circumstances of the accident.

“At approximately 11:20 pm, Haywood struck a pedestrian pushing an unlit disabled car down the middle of a dark road,” Dianis said. “Haywood immediately rushed to help the person pushing the car who had been injured. Haywood assisted a bystander who applied a tourniquet to the injury and stayed on the scene talking to the injured man offering words of comfort until an ambulance took him to the hospital.

“Mr. Highsmith had not consumed alcohol or drugs and was not speeding. This was an unfortunate accident. We have been notified that the person sustained significant injuries but is in stable condition. Haywood and his family are praying for him. Haywood is of course shaken by this and appreciates the support and prayers he has received from the Miami Heat and fans.”

Highsmith returned to Heat practice on Friday after missing Wednesday’s game in the wake of the incident.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Terry Rozier was acquired by the Heat on January 23, but due to the nature of the team’s in-season schedule, he didn’t take part in a full practice with his new club until Friday, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. “It feels good just to get up and down with these guys and put a lot more things in that we can get better at in the game,” Rozier said after the session.
  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic takes a look at why the Wizards‘ trade deadline was quieter than anticipated, with guards Tyus Jones and Delon Wright among the trade candidates who stayed put. Teams were only willing to offer second-round picks for Jones, Robbins reports, so Washington decided to hang onto him and will strongly consider re-signing him in free agency this summer. Robbins adds that the offers for Wright were “underwhelming” and would’ve required the Wizards to take on salary beyond this season.
  • Franz Wagner has no problem with the Magic opting to stand pat at the trade deadline, telling Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link) that he views it as a sign of trust from the front office.
  • The Hawks will have to make a decision soon on guard Trent Forrest, tweets Brad Rowland of Locked on Hawks. As Rowland explains, despite only appearing in 19 games so far, Forrest has been active for 49 — players on two-way contracts are limited to a maximum of 50. Atlanta would have to promote Forrest to its standard roster, which is currently full, to allow him to exceed that limit.

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: Gafford, Bagley, Murray, Wagner, Okeke

Wizards starting center Daniel Gafford entered the NBA’s concussion protocol this week following a head-on-head collision with Isaiah Stewart on Monday and was unavailable for Thursday’s contest vs. New York, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

Having traded Mike Muscala and Danilo Gallinari to Detroit, the Wizards had limited options up front with Gafford out. As Alex Schiffer of The Washington Post observes, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. could have opted to go small by starting Bilal Coulibaly or Patrick Baldwin, who had played well as of late, writes Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network.

Instead, newly acquired big man Marvin Bagley III was immediately thrust into the starting lineup at the five and played a team-high 39 minutes in a competitive loss to the Knicks. Bagley impressed in his Wizards debut, racking up 20 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks. He was also a plus-two in a game that Washington lost by four points.

“That’s a heck of a start for him,” Unseld said, per Schiffer. “Played a well-balanced game, offense and defensively. Even things that happened on the fly I thought the group in general helped talk him through situations to keep him organized. That’s growth for us.”

The other player the Wizards acquired from the Pistons, Isaiah Livers, didn’t see the court in his first game with his new team. Livers will have to work his way into the rotation, according to Unseld, who said he expects opportunities to come for the third-year wing.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Within a look at the team’s potential approach to the trade deadline, Ken Sugiura of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution talks to an NBA scout who says the Hawks will likely have to accept the idea of getting less for Dejounte Murray than what they gave up for him in 2022. “The Trae (Young) and Dejounte backcourt has not worked,” the scout said. “And I don’t think they’re going to get what they gave up for him, which puts them in a tough spot. They have to swallow their pride a little bit and take a loss, I think, to move forward.”
  • Zach Kram of The Ringer takes a closer look at Murray’s trade value, noting that various defensive metrics all suggest that the Hawks guard has taken a noticeable step back on that end of the court within the past year or two.
  • Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said he expects forward Franz Wagner (right ankle sprain) to be back “sooner than later,” adding that Wagner should resume full-contact work “pretty soon” (Twitter links via Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel). Wagner will miss his eighth consecutive game on Friday vs. Philadelphia.
  • Fourth-year Magic forward Chuma Okeke has been out of the rotation for much of the season, but he has started the past seven games with Wagner and wing Gary Harris sidelined. As Beede writes for The Orlando Sentinel, Okeke has earned praise from his teammates for how he’s adjusted to the increase in his playing time and especially for his performance on defense. “It’s not easy going from not playing to playing and then guarding most of the better players on the court, especially one-on-one,” Caleb Houstan said.

Southeast Notes: Ingles, Magic, Butler, Dragic, Hornets

The Magic will get some reinforcements on Friday, according to Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel, who says that forward Joe Ingles is no longer listed on the injury report after missing the team’s past 13 games due to a sprained left ankle.

Ingles had been a key reserve off Orlando’s bench early in the season, averaging 5.1 points, 3.5 assists, and 2.8 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per night across 23 healthy appearances before being injured in his 24th game.

The Magic are still relatively banged up, with Franz Wagner (right ankle sprain) and Gary Harris (right calf strain) set to sit out for a fourth straight game on Friday, while Jonathan Isaac will be unavailable for a 10th consecutive contest.

Isaac is being listed as out due to an illness after being sidelined for nine games due to a hamstring strain, Beede notes — we’ll see once that illness passes whether the forward is ready to return from his hamstring injury. As for Wagner, he went through a light workout on Thursday, but isn’t taking contact yet, per head coach Jamahl Mosley.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Jimmy Butler (right toe MP joint sprain) has been upgraded on the Heat‘s injury report, but he’s still considered doubtful to play on Friday vs. Orlando, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. There’s a sense that Butler could make his return on Sunday vs. Charlotte or Monday in Brooklyn, Chiang adds.
  • Veteran guard Goran Dragic, who recently announced his retirement as a player, spoke to Chiang about why he had hoped to finish his career with the Heat, as well as his favorite memories of his time in Miami. Dragic also stated that he “definitely” has interest in joining the organization in some capacity during the next phase of his career. “I don’t know if I want to be a coach,” Dragic said. “My main thing right now is I would like to stay in Miami to be with my kids, to be a dad. But definitely, that’s my dream, to work for the Heat some day. You know, the goals change every year. And maybe in one year, it’s going to be, ‘I want to be a coach.’ You never know.”
  • The Hornets officially unveiled plans on Friday for $215MM in renovations to the Spectrum Center. Chase Jordan of The Charlotte Observer takes a closer look at what fans can expect from the renovation project, which is being funded by the city. Work is scheduled to begin in May 2024 and conclude before the start of the 2025/26 season.

Southeast Notes: Ball, Hornets, F. Wagner, Queen, Jones

The Hornets have dealt with several injuries this season, most notably to point guard LaMelo Ball, who has been out since November 26 with a right ankle sprain. However, the former All-Star was a full practice participant on Sunday and also scrimmaged 5-on-5, which means he’s nearing a return, reports Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

Ball, 22, has averaged 24.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.4 steals on .443/.388/.857 shooting in 15 games this season (33.4 minutes). He’s under contract through 2028/29 after signing a five-year, rookie scale max extension last summer.

According to Boone, reserve guard Frank Ntilikina has also been practicing and scrimmaging with the Hornets and could make his 2023/24 season debut in the near future. Ntilikina fractured his left tibia in the team’s preseason finale, but Charlotte decided to keep him past Sunday’s salary guarantee deadline.

As for P.J. Washington, he sustained a right foot sprain on Friday and it’s unclear how much time he might miss, Boone adds. All three players will be out for Monday’s contest vs. Chicago, per the league’s official injury report.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Franz Wagner underwent an MRI on Thursday which confirmed a right ankle sprain, the Magic announced (via Twitter). Orlando is typically vague when it comes to injuries and recovery timelines and this was no exception; the team simply said “Wagner’s return to play will depend on how he responds to rehabilitation and treatment.”
  • While the Magic‘s update didn’t reveal much about Wagner’s injury, head coach Jamahl Mosley sounded relieved it wasn’t more serious, according to Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel, who notes that Wagner had to be helped off the court on Wednesday vs. Sacramento. “Seeing how he went down and how he was grimacing through that,” Mosley said, “to be an ankle sprain at that level is very great news to have at this moment.”
  • Injuries — including Wagner’s — recently created an opportunity for major minutes for Magic two-way guard Trevelin Queen, Beede writes for The Orlando Sentinel. The former G League MVP had only played one minute in one game leading up to Wednesday’s contest in Sacramento, but he played 38 minutes that night and 31 minutes two days later in Denver. As Beede notes, Queen was recently named to the NBAGL’s All-Showcase Team and he will likely continue bouncing back and forth between the NBA and G League. “I stay ready because I know it’s bigger than me,” Queen said. “For me, I don’t care what I’ve got going on, I’m just ready to hoop at any time. It’s just being mentally ready. Whether it’s for Osceola or Orlando, it’s just being the best teammate I can be.”
  • The Wizards‘ 6-29 record is underwhelming to say the least, but one bright spot in their season has been the leadership and play of point guard Tyus Jones, per Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. A full-time starter for the first time in 2023/24, Jones is averaging career highs in several categories, Wallace notes, and has helped cultivate a good locker-room environment for the Wizards despite their lack of on-court success.

Gilgeous-Alexander, Antetokounmpo Named Players Of Month

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo have been named the Western and Eastern Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for December, according to the NBA (Twitter link).

Gilgeous-Alexander led his team to a 10-3 record during the month while averaging 31.9 points, 6.6 assists and 3.1 steals per game. Antetokounmpo carried the Bucks to an 11-2 mark in December, posting averages of 32.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists per night.

Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic, Kevin Durant, Anthony Edwards, De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis and Kawhi Leonard were the other nominees in the West.

Bam Adebayo, Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Joel Embiid, Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner, Donovan Mitchell, Julius Randle, Coby White and Derrick White were the other nominees in the East.