Franz Wagner

Magic’s Franz Wagner Exits With Right Ankle Sprain

Magic forward Franz Wagner has been on a roll lately, but he unfortunately sustained a right ankle injury in the first quarter on Wednesday against Sacramento and was later ruled out for the remainder of the contest (Twitter link).

According to the Magic, Wagner had X-rays after exiting the game, which came back negative. He was formally diagnosed with a right ankle sprain.

A former lottery pick (No. 8 overall in 2021) who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension in the offseason, Wagner is Orlando’s second-leading scorer, narrowly trailing Paolo Banchero. The 22-year-old German is averaging career highs in multiple statistics in 2023/24, including points (21.3), rebounds (6.0) assists (4.0) and steals (1.2) per night through 33 games (34.2 MPG).

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

Ankle sprains can drastically vary as far as recovery timelines go, so we’ll have to wait for more information to be released on Wagner to have a better idea on if he might miss more time.

Eastern Notes: Adebayo, Raptors, Dick, Trent Jr., Wagner

Bam Adebayo has already been ruled out of the Heat’s game against Toronto on Wednesday. The standout big man is uncertain whether he’ll be ready to go for Friday’s contest against Cleveland, he told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

“I have no idea,” said Adebayo, who is dealing with a hip contusion. “This is new to me…to be on the sideline. I get reevaluated when the team gets back from Toronto. We’ll have a conversation then.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • With the Raptors potentially being sellers at the trade deadline, The Athletic’s Eric Koreen takes a look at five questions that will define the second quarter of their season. Among those questions is whether first-rounder Gradey Dick will start contributing to the NBA club and if coach Darko Rajakovic will swap in Gary Trent Jr. for Dennis Schröder in the starting five.
  • Exploring a similar topic, Michael Grange of Sportsnet writes that the Raptors are reaching a critical juncture after a 9-11 start. If they don’t show real improvement in the next two months, the front office will have little choice but to explore trades for Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Trent, their three rotation players on expiring contacts, Grange suggests.
  • 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: 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.

Southeast Notes: Isaac, Wagners, Washington, Adebayo

Last week, Magic forward Jonathan Isaac played back-to-back games for the first time in nearly four years, writes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel.

I felt good and I’ve just been trying to do a better job of getting my rest when I need it,” Isaac said. “I definitely feel like my legs are getting back under me and I’m starting to just run free and jump free out there.”

Isaac, who missed two whole seasons — 2020/21 and ’21/22 — while recovering from a torn ACL, was limited to 11 games last season. He has already exceeded that total in ’23/24, appearing in 13 of Orlando’s 15 contests, including Wednesday’s vs. Denver — the second of another back-to-back set.

Still just 26 years old, Isaac is averaging a modest 13.7 minutes per night off the bench. But he’s recording 1.4 blocks and 1.0 steal per game in those limited minutes, and his coach and teammates have lauded Isaac’s defensive abilities, referring to him as “special” and “amazing” on that end of the court, according to Beede.

He’s our defensive anchor,” guard Gary Harris said. “And we still have guys out right now so we can be a very scary team defensively, especially when everybody gets healthy.”

The 9-5 Magic have the top defense in the league early on this season, holding a 106.4 defensive rating. With Isaac on the court, that figure drops to a remarkable 94.0.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports details how Franz Wagner and Moritz Wagner — brothers who won a gold medal at the World Cup with the German national team — are helping turn the Magic into a possible playoff contender. “It was purely about, how can we all come together and do something that’s greater than each individual by themselves?” Franz said of the World Cup. “I think we’re creating that same vibe here in Orlando.”
  • P.J. Washington has started for most of his five-year career with the Hornets, but he was moved to the bench once Miles Bridges returned from a suspension. He took the move in stride, per Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. “At the end of the day it’s a team game,” Washington said. “When we win, we win as team and when we lose, we lose as a team. For me, I just try to come out here and try to be a professional and do whatever coach asks me to do. Whether it’s play the ‘5’ play the ‘3,’ play the ‘4.’ I’m just trying to do everything I can to win. It’s as simple as that.” Washington was a late scratch for Wednesday’s game against the Wizards due to right foot discomfort, the Hornets announced (via Twitter).
  • Heat center Bam Adebayo was ruled out of Wednesday’s game against Cleveland due to hip discomfort, tweets Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. With Kevin Love also out for personal reasons, Miami turned to Thomas Bryant and Orlando Robinson to man the middle.

Southeast Notes: Jovic, Anthony, Mosley, Bridges

Despite a promising summer that saw him play a key role for Serbia’s national team at the World Cup, Nikola Jovic has been unable to crack the Heat‘s regular rotation so far this season, appearing in just two games for the club. Noting that the former first-round pick “needs to play,” head coach Erik Spoelstra confirmed on Saturday that Jovic will be sent to the G League for “a few games,” according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

Jovic doesn’t see the assignment to the Sioux Falls Skyforce as a step back, explaining that he welcomes the opportunity to get on the court.

“I just want to play. That’s it,” the 20-year-old said. “I just want to get some playing time, stay in a rhythm, you never know what’s going to happen [with the Heat]. Maybe they’ll need more help from me, you never know. I just want to improve and these guys do a great job at it. Even being in the G League, I feel like it’s going to be great for me.”

As Chiang explains, while Jovic has flashed an intriguing combination of ball-handling, facilitating, and shooting for his size (6’10”), his defense is still very much a “work in progress,” which is a key reason why he hasn’t been able to establish a consistent role in Miami.

Here are a few more items from around the Southeast:

  • Speaking to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Magic guard Cole Anthony suggested that competing in the World Cup helped teammates Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner become “more complete players” and said that making the playoffs is Orlando’s goal this season. Anthony also reiterated a point he made last month, telling Scotto that he’s happy to have resolved his contract situation by signing a rookie scale contract extension due to the security it provides. “It allowed me to play the game without the stress of worrying if I play badly that shoot, that’s my career,” Anthony said.
  • In that same conversation, Anthony lauded Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley for the role he has played in the team’s growth, telling Scotto that Mosley is “up front” and “candid” with his players. “I can tell why people in Dallas spoke highly of him,” Anthony said of the former Mavericks assistant. “He’s a really good dude who cares about his players about all of us beyond basketball. It’s been fun to play for him. He allows us to play through a lot of our mistakes. He’s also grown as a coach. This is his first head coaching gig. He’s doing a great job. He’s gotten better as a coach, and we’ve gotten better as players. It’s been fun.”
  • In an appearance on Sportsnet 590 The Fan (Twitter video link), NBA commissioner Adam Silver discussed the status of Miles Bridges, who returned on Friday from a suspension related to domestic violence charges, despite the fact that the Hornets forward faces newer allegations. As Silver explained, the league intends to let the legal process play out before deciding whether to assess an additional punishment related to those allegations.

And-Ones: Dybantsa, Weatherspoon, Breakout Candidates, More

A.J. Dybantsa, a 6’8″ wing from Massachusetts and one of the top high school prospects in the country, intends to reclassify to the 2025 recruiting class, as Jeff Borzello of writes. Dybantsa had previously been the No. 1 player in ESPN’s 2026 recruiting rankings. Now, he becomes the favorite to be selected first overall in the 2026 NBA draft, according to Borzello.

As Borzello explains, Dybantsa, Cooper Flagg, and Cameron Boozer are widely considered the best high school prospects in the country. When ESPN asked 20 college coaches and NBA evaluators to rank the trio this summer, Dybantsa earned seven first-place votes and placed second behind Flagg, who is the frontrunner to be the top pick in the 2025 draft.

“Dybantsa is just the most complete,” one coach told ESPN. “Scores at all three levels. Super athletic. He’s the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft whenever he goes.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the league:

  • Former Pelicans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon will be the next head coach of the WNBA’s Chiacgo Sky, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The former WNBA star was an assistant in New Orleans for four seasons before the team parted ways with her in June.
  • In John Schuhmann’s general manager poll, two players received more votes than Magic forward Franz Wagner for this season’s top breakout candidate. However, Wagner sits atop the list compiled by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who spoke to 25 executives around the NBA and has shared the top nine vote-getters. Pistons guard Cade Cunningham and Rockets guard Jalen Green round out Scotto’s top three.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic lists a dozen under-the-radar NBA players whom he expects to have a real impact this season, including Celtics wing Oshae Brissett, Nuggets forward Peyton Watson, Thunder guard Vasilije Micic, and Pelicans forward Naji Marshall.
  • The Capital City Go-Go have traded the returning rights to Isaiah Mucius to the Delaware Blue Coats along with a 2024 first-round pick and 2023 second-round pick in the G League draft. In exchange, the Sixers‘ G League affiliate has sent Michael Foster Jr.‘s returning rights to the Wizards‘ affiliate, the Go-Go announced today (via Twitter).

NBA GMs Like Celtics’ Offseason Moves, Title Chances

The Celtics and Bucks made the best overall moves this offseason, according to the NBA’s general managers. In his annual survey of the league’s top basketball decision-makers, John Schuhmann of writes that 23% picked Boston as having the best summer, while another 23% picked Milwaukee. The Trail Blazers (17%) and Lakers (13%) were among the other clubs who received multiple votes.

Of course, the Celtics’ and Bucks’ pre-camp trades for Jrue Holiday and Damian Lillard, respectively, were huge factors in the positive perception of their offseasons. Of Schuhmann’s GM respondents, 47% said the Lillard acquisition was the most impactful move of the offseason, while Boston’s addition of Holiday placed second at 13% (the Celtics’ trade for Kristaps Porzingis tied for fourth, at 7%).

Both Boston and Milwaukee are viewed by the league’s general managers as good bets to compete for the title in 2024. The Celtics were selected by 33% of Schuhmann’s respondents as the team that will win the championship the season, while the Bucks got 23% of the vote share. No other Eastern club received a vote, with the Nuggets (33%), Suns (7%), and Clippers (3%) representing the only other teams that were chosen as potential champs.

Here are a few more interesting results from Schuhmann’s GM survey, which is worth checking out in full:

  • As much as the NBA’s general managers like Boston’s roster, it was the Grizzlies‘ acquisition of Marcus Smart from Boston that was voted as the most underrated player addition of the summer (17%), narrowly edging out the Mavericks‘ sign-and-trade for Grant Williams (14%).
  • The NBA’s GMs are high on the Thunder. Oklahoma City was the runaway winner as the team with the league’s most promising young core (73%) and also earned the most votes for which club will be most improved in 2023/24 (30%).
  • Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama got plenty of love from the league’s GMs. He was the top choice for Rookie of the Year (50%) and was the overwhelming pick for which rookie will be the best player in five years (90%). He also placed second among the players Schuhmann’s respondents would most want to start a franchise with today, with his 23% vote share trailing only Nikola Jokic‘s 33%.
  • NBA GMs expect Ime Udoka of the Rockets to be the head coach that has the biggest impact on his new team (57%), followed by Monty Williams of the Pistons (17%).
  • Jordi Fernandez of the Kings, viewed as a future NBA head coach, comfortably won the vote on the league’s best assistant (31%).
  • The NBA’s GMs consider Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (23%), Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (20%), and Magic forward Franz Wagner (13%) the top candidates for a breakout year.
  • Which rookie was the biggest steal in the 2023 draft? Rockets wing Cam Whitmore (43%) was the top choice, with Jazz guard Keyonte George, Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson, and Heat forward Jaime Jaquez each receiving 10% of the vote.

Magic Exercise 2024/25 Options On Wagner, Suggs, Banchero

The Magic have exercised a series of rookie scale team options, guaranteeing the 2024/25 salaries for forward Franz Wagner, guard Jalen Suggs and forward Paolo Banchero, according to Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel.

All three players already had guaranteed salaries for the upcoming season (2023/24). Now they’re locked for in at least one more season beyond that.

Wagner’s and Suggs’ fourth-year options for 2024/25 are worth $7,007,092 and $9,188,385, respectively. Both players will now be eligible for rookie scale extensions next offseason. As for Banchero, he’ll earn $12,160,800 in ’24/25 now that his third-year option has been picked up. Orlando will have to exercise his fourth-year option for ’25/26 next fall.

Wagner averaged 18.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 32.6 minutes per night across 80 appearances in his second NBA season. The 22-year-old forward, who posted a strong shooting line of .485/.361/.842 in 2022/23, helped lead Germany to a World Cup gold medal this summer.

Suggs, the fifth overall pick in 2021, has had a couple up-and-down seasons since going pro, shooting just .387/.271/.752 with averages of 10.8 PPG, 3.6 APG, and 3.3 RPG in 101 total NBA games (25.3 MPG). However, Orlando remains confident enough in his growth to commit to him beyond the coming season.

As for Banchero, the rising star is coming off a Rookie of the Year campaign in which he averaged a team-high 20.0 PPG to go along with 6.9 RPG and 3.7 APG on .427/.298/.738 shooting in 72 games (33.8 MPG). He’ll be looking to improve his shooting efficiency in year two and has spoken about wanting to become an All-Star.

The full list of rookie scale team option decisions, which are due October 31, can be found right here.

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.

Magic’s Mosley Talks Banchero, F. Wagner, Fultz, More

Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley recently spoke to Michael Scotto on the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast. The conversation covered a number of topics, including how Mosley got his start in coaching, working with former Hall of Fame players and current stars, his time coaching the U.S. Select Team this summer, and, of course, the Magic.

Mosley is bullish on Orlando’s young talent. Reigning Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero played for Team USA at the World Cup, and while the Americans had a disappointing fourth-place finish, Mosley liked what he saw from the 2022 No. 1 overall pick.

I think the sky is the limit (for 2023/24),” Mosley said. “(Banchero) being with Team USA and seeing the different aspects of how people adjusted their games to fit in with what was trying to be accomplished. He did that. He’s capable of doing so many things. At the beginning of the year, he played basically point for us at times with Franz Wagner when we had our guards down. More importantly, I watched his jump defensively and ability to switch pick-and-rolls and stay in coverage. They had him playing the five mixed with the four. I thought it was great that he expanded his game in real time. I think it’ll do wonders for him on the court.

“Even more importantly, his voice and leadership. I watched him during a practice in Las Vegas and the way he carried himself and projected his voice in certain drills. I think that’s going to go so far when he’s back with the Magic because it’s a level of leadership you’re asking him to step into. I think he recognizes and feels that. It was a great experience for him to be around that group of players and those coaches.”

As for Wagner, who helped Germany to a gold medal, Mosley said he wasn’t surprised by the third-year forward’s success, and once again focused on the less glamorous end of the court.

For Franz, I think people got to see a glimpse of what we’ve known for quite some time,” Mosley told Scotto. “Since we’ve drafted him, we’ve talked about his high basketball IQ, his work ethic, care for the game and attention to detail. He has all of those pieces. I joke with him that he’s a 40-year-old man in a 22-year-old body. He just sees the game so differently, and he cares about the little things. He cares about people.

“What I saw was his defensive ability to show. Franz did a great job of switching when it came to guard certain guards. I think that’s going to be the biggest key as he comes back here. Our ability to guard, which I was so happy to watch them (Banchero and Wagner) do at times, is going to skyrocket us to what we’re capable of doing.”

When Scotto asked about the Magic’s offseason, Mosley said he was happy to have “consistency and stability” with most of the roster returning. Regarding expectations for 2023/24, the coach said he’s more focused on the Magic improving via “continuity, joy, togetherness, and grit” rather than wins and losses, because if they handle those aspects the “wins will take care of themselves.”

Another former No. 1 overall pick, guard Markelle Fultz, is entering the final year of his contract, which will pay him $17MM in 2023/24. Mosley thinks Fultz is ready to take “big strides” ahead of free agency next summer.

I think Markelle’s ability to continue to lead because he’s such a selfless point guard,” Mosley said, per Scotto. “He wants to share and enjoys seeing the success of his teammates. That’s what we’re going to ask more of him. Defensively, being able to guard the ball because his level of physicality is up there. I think he’s going to set the tone in a lot of ways for us. He has such a high ceiling of where he can go because of how he’s been working this summer.”