Markelle Fultz

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.”

Magic Guarantee 2023/24 Salaries For Markelle Fultz, Gary Harris

The Magic have decided to retain point guard Markelle Fultz and veteran wing Gary Harris through their respective salary guarantee dates, reports Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel (subscription required).

Fultz’s $17MM salary for 2023/24 had only been partially guaranteed for $2MM, while Harris’ $13MM cap hit was non-guaranteed. The Magic had to waive the two players today to avoid fully guaranteeing their ’23/24 salaries, but have apparently opted not to do so.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, Fultz started all 60 games he played for the Magic in 2022/23 after being limited to just 26 total appearances across the two prior seasons due to an ACL tear. Fultz enjoyed his best NBA season this past year, establishing new career highs in points (14.0), assists (5.7), and rebounds (3.9) per game while also shooting a career-best 51.4% from the field, including 31.0% on threes.

Harris, meanwhile, appeared in 48 games for Orlando last season, starting 42 of them and averaging 24.7 minutes per night. The 28-year-old made a career-high 43.1% of his three-point attempts, providing some much-needed floor spacing for a Magic team that ranked 25th in the NBA in three-pointers.

With Fultz and Harris on the books for next season, Orlando’s cap flexibility will be reduced. However, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the Magic isn’t planning to be a major player on the free agent market anyway.

It sounds like the team will focus on lower-cost free agents rather than trying to make a significant splash. Fischer hears from sources that veteran forward Joe Ingles is one candidate to sign with the Magic on a contract worth more than the minimum.

Sixers Notes: Trade Deadline, Fultz, Niang, Milton

The Sixers are hoping to land a reliable backup center before next week’s trade deadline, sources tell Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Montrezl Harrell and Paul Reed have been filling that role, but Harrell hasn’t been strong defensively and the coaching staff doesn’t fully trust Reed, according to Neubeck.

Neubeck states that the front office is willing to add another big man even if it can’t get rid of Harrell or Reed in the same deal. He mentions former Sixer Andre Drummond, whom the Bulls are reportedly open to trading, as an example of the type of traditional center the team wants to acquire.

Several teams have contacted the Timberwolves about Naz Reid, but Neubeck doesn’t expect him to be an option for Philadelphia. He also says the decision could wait for the buyout market, although it could be tough to find a long-term solution who’s content to be a backup for Embiid.

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Furkan Korkmaz, Danuel House and Jaden Springer are the best candidates to be moved in the type of deals the Sixers are considering, Neubeck adds. He hears from sources that Matisse Thybulle would likely be included in a “higher-end” trade, with the Kings among several teams that have shown interest in the fourth-year guard. Shake Milton, who’s headed for free agency after the season, could be useful as a trade sweetener, according to Neubeck.
  • Magic guard Markelle Fultz had 12 points and 10 assists Monday night while playing his first game in Philadelphia since being traded to Orlando in 2019, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers had hoped Fultz would be part of their foundation after drafting him first overall in 2017, but a combination of injuries and shooting difficulties led to him playing just 33 combined games in his two seasons with the team. “I’ve always been a big fan,” Embiid said of his former teammate. “When we traded him, I was disappointed because I felt like we were giving up on him too early.”
  • Georges Niang and Milton believe too much was made about an on-court argument they had during Saturday’s nationally televised game, per Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Niang was upset about not getting a pass from Milton on a two-on-one break, but they both joked about the incident afterward. “I just told both of them to let it go, that we had a [expletive] game to win,” Embiid said. “I think it’s also good for the team, not a bad thing. Guys get into each other, that makes us better. … After the game, we’re all laughing.”

Southeast Notes: Kuzma, Fultz, Lowry, Thor

Kyle Kuzma has been a hot name on the trade market, though the latest reports have indicated that the Wizards would prefer to keep him through the deadline in an attempt to re-sign him in free agency. The 27-year-old forward says he loves playing with Kristaps Porzingis and Bradley Beal, and that will factor into his decision this summer.

It plays into it a lot,” Kuzma told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter video link). “I love playing with those guys. I see how easy it is for me, but this is something I’m not really thinking about right now. I’m so far away from it.”

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Markelle Fultz has made a major impact on the defensive end since he made his season debut at the end of November, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscriber link). “Just playing hard man,” he said. “Just giving all my effort while I’m on the court. Whether that’s ball pressure or trying to dive on the floor for a loose ball, I’m just trying to find any little way to give our team an advantage.” Fultz is averaging a career-high 1.7 steals per contest, per Price, who notes that the 24-year-old doesn’t gamble much while playing disruptive defense. The Magic have gone 12-12 in games Fultz has played and 5-16 without him.
  • Heat point guard Kyle Lowry recently returned from a four-game absence due to knee soreness. He says it’s been bothering him for a while, but hopes resting it resolved the issue, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “It was good to just get myself right,” said Lowry. “My knee has been a little bit bothering me for a while. So it was good to get back. …I feel good. I feel pretty good right now and hopefully it doesn’t re-occur, and we just kind of build on that. You keep the body right and keep the mind sharp.”
  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford is a fan of JT Thor‘s team-first mentality and defense, but he admits his rotations have the second-year forward in an unenviable position, as Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer relays. “The guy to be honest with you, who to a certain degree is getting screwed, is JT Thor,” Clifford said. “I’m subbing him in a way — and he knows it and his teammates know it — just so we can keep more balanced lineups on the floor. He’s playing four minutes sometimes, three minutes sometimes. You can’t possibly be productive offensively with those minutes. He gets the minutes, but the way they are broken up, there’s no way. When I told him that, he said, ‘Hey, I know this isn’t about me.’ So, that’s why he has a chance to be a good player.”

Magic Notes: F. Wagner, Fultz, Anthony, Banchero

It was easy to focus on Franz Wagner, who scored a season-high 34 points Friday and put the Magic ahead to stay with a late layup, but the win over the Raptors was a victory for the offensive system that coach Jamahl Mosley has brought to Orlando, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel.

The team executed Mosley’s game plan as well as it has all season, Price observes. The Magic shot almost 60% from the field against Toronto and posted an offensive rating of 116.5, its best in nearly a month.

“This game shows it works, what the coaches are telling us,” Wagner said. “They’re telling us to get to the paint and make decisions from there. Toronto’s really good at collapsing to the paint and defending the rim. That second and third action is when you get baskets at the rim most of the time. It’s a credit to how we moved the basketball around and let everybody touch it throughout a possession.”

There’s more from Orlando:

  • The Magic have back-to-back wins and have been playing better since Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony returned from injuries in late November, Price adds. The team now has two more ball-handlers who can generate offense for themselves and their teammates. “We continue to learn each other,” Fultz said. “Guys are starting to realize that’s the way our team can play. We’re young, athletic and we want to make everybody a threat. We’ve been doing it over the last few games, I just think [Friday] you’ve seen results of making shots and getting the shots we wanted. Something we got to continue to build on. We still had a few too many turnovers but it’s all about getting a little better each and every day.”
  • On Wednesday, the Magic fell behind 21-6 early in the game before rallying to beat the Clippers in overtime. The comeback was sparked by defense, which could have positive implications moving forward, Price suggests in a separate story. “It was very important for us because it showed when we lock in on defense and do everything correctly, we could definitely be a good defensive team,” Bol Bol said. “All of our defense led to fast-break points and easy offense. As long as we focus on our defense, that’ll translate to offense.”
  • After meeting with Paolo Banchero, Italian Basketball Federation President Gianni Petrucci believes there’s a “60% chance” the rookie forward will choose to play for Italy in international competitions, per Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony Set To Return For Magic

The Magic will get some reinforcements in their backcourt when they host the Hawks on Wednesday, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel, who reports that guards Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony will be available for the game.

Fultz has yet to play at all this season due to a fractured toe that he suffered in September, right before training camps began. Anthony, meanwhile, has been dealing with a right internal oblique injury that has sidelined him since October 26. He has played just four games so far in 2022/23.

Fultz and Anthony were expected to play major roles in Orlando’s backcourt this season. In their absences, the team has leaned more heavily on Jalen Suggs at point guard, with R.J. Hampton also playing an increased role. Suggs and Hampton, along with rookie wing Caleb Houstan, are candidates to see their minutes cut back a little now that the Magic are getting healthier.

It will be a big year for Fultz, since the former No. 1 overall pick doesn’t have a fully guaranteed salary for the 2023/24 season. With just $2MM of his $17MM cap hit guaranteed for next season, he’ll be looking to stay healthy and secure a place in the Magic’s future plans. Injuries have limited Fultz to just 98 games since he arrived in Orlando in February 2019, and only 131 since he was drafted in 2017.

Anthony has a guaranteed contract for ’23/24, but it’s an important season for him too, since he’ll become eligible for a rookie scale extension during the 2023 offseason.

Markelle Fultz Could Make 2022/23 Debut On Sunday

Magic guard Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 draft, could make his 2022/23 season debut on Sunday against the Sixers, per Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscription required).

The 24-year-old has missed the first 19 games of the season after fracturing his left big toe in late September, right before training camp opened. However, he was able to practice on Wednesday and he’s been upgraded from out to questionable for Sunday’s game, as Price relays.

A couple weeks ago, Price reported that Fultz hoped to return in the next three-to-four weeks, so a Sunday return would be a little ahead of schedule for that timeline. Still, he’s only listed as questionable, not probable or available, so there’s no guarantee that he’ll actually play, though it’s certainly encouraging that his return appears imminent.

Injuries have been a major factor in Fultz’s career, limiting him to just 131 games over five-plus seasons, including 18 in ’21/22 after recovering from a torn ACL. He averaged 10.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.1 steals in 20.0 minutes last season.

Fultz will earn a guaranteed $16.5MM this season, but his $17MM salary for ’23/24 is only partially guaranteed at $2MM, so how he performs upon his return will likely have a significant impact on whether he’s in Orlando’s future plans. The Magic have dealt with a number of injuries to key rotation players this season and are currently 5-14, the third-worst record in the NBA.

Magic’s Markelle Fultz Hopes To Return In 3-4 Weeks

Former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz has yet to play in the 2022/23 season after fracturing his left big toe just before training camp started in late September. The Magic guard still has some hurdles to clear before returning to action, but he’s pain-free and hopes to return to action in the next three-to-four weeks, reports Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscriber link).

Fultz says feels “ready to play” right now, but his last scan revealed that his toe wasn’t fully healed, according to Price.

I haven’t felt anything for a minute so it’s kind of weird because I didn’t feel anything before my last scan and then it came back it healed some but not to their liking,” Fultz said. “So hopefully this next scan is fully healed and I’m able to get the green light to get a few practices under my belt and go out there and play.”

Fultz has been doing light on-court work after being cleared to stop using his walking boot last week.

I just don’t do a lot of contact play,” Fultz said, per Price. “I’m doing a little contact in my drills but not full. That’s pretty much it. I can pretty much do everything except I’m not doing 1-on-1 or 4-on-4 or stuff like that yet.

I still [am] cutting, dribbling, shooting, jumping — I just haven’t done it against another player, full-on bumping and stuff like that.”

As Price notes, injuries have been a major factor in Fultz’s career, limiting him to just 131 games over five-plus seasons, including 18 in ’21/22 after recovering from a torn ACL. He averaged 10.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.1 steals in 20.0 minutes last season. His lengthy injury history has given him some perspective on not rushing the recovery process.

Of course, I want to play but I don’t want to go out there, break it and then have to get surgery and sit out longer than now,” Fultz said. “My biggest thing now is being smart about and healing all the way so I can play a full season without any more hiccups. And not have any lingering pain.”

Southeast Notes: Wizards, M. Williams, Fultz, Krejci, Korver

Josh Robbins of The Athletic takes a look at the Wizards‘ projected depth chart and rotation, predicting that former Nuggets Monte Morris and Will Barton will join Bradley Beal, Kyle Kuzma, and Kristaps Porzingis in the starting five to open the season.

Assuming Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. decides to roll with a 10-man rotation to open the season, Robbins projects Delon Wright, Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura, and Daniel Gafford to be part of the second unit, with either Corey Kispert or Johnny Davis slotting into the second backcourt spot.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Longtime Hornets forward Marvin Williams has rejoined the franchise in a basketball operations role, tweets Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer. In his new position, Williams will assist with player programs and with player development off the court, according to Boone.
  • Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel spoke to Dr. David Lee, a local orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon, to get a sense of how long it might take Magic point guard Markelle Fultz to return from a fractured toe. Lee estimated that Fultz could potentially return to Orlando’s lineup in about four to eight weeks, which would be anywhere from mid-October to mid-November. However, the team hasn’t provided a specific recovery timeline.
  • Hawks head coach Nate McMillan liked what he saw from newly added guard Vit Krejci in the 22-year-old’s first practice with the team on Thursday. “He knows how to play,” McMillan said, per Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). “I think he has a high basketball IQ. We put him right out there. It was good to see him be available to play and practice with our guys today. So that was exciting.”
  • Although Kyle Korver is technically part of the Hawksfront office and not the coaching staff, he has been working with players – including Clint Capela and Jalen Johnson – on their shooting during training camp, as Williams writes in a full story for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (subscription required). “I’ve worked with him quite a few times actually,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “Kyle has helped me make a few adjustments in my shot. You know, having him around has helped a lot. He’s been helping a lot of these guys, giving them pointers and things they can work on, so it’s good.”

Magic Notes: Fultz, Isaac, Bamba, Bol

Point guard Markelle Fultz and forward Jonathan Isaac are viewed by the Magic as cornerstone pieces, but the two former lottery picks haven’t seen much action in recent years. Fultz has appeared in just 26 games since the start of the 2020/21 season, while Isaac hasn’t played at all during that time.

There was some optimism this summer that this would finally be the year both Fultz and Isaac are back in the Magic’s lineup, but it seems that won’t happen right away. According to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link), Isaac is still ramping up and isn’t yet ready for group work, while Fultz – who has a fractured toe – will miss all of training camp and doesn’t yet have a timetable for his return.

It has been a long road back for Isaac in particular — he tore his ACL in 2020 and suffered a setback near the end of his recovery process earlier this year, undergoing a minor procedure in March. However, he told reporters on Monday that he’ll definitely be back on the court this season and that he aims to return sooner rather than later (Twitter link via Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel).

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • Asked on Monday about his decision to re-sign with the Magic this offseason after not receiving a qualifying offer from the team, Mohamed Bamba cited “familiarity” with the franchise as an important factor (video link via Price). “I love the direction that we’re going in as an organization,” Bamba said. “I’m really close with the coaching staff, and that’s across the board. I feel like there’s so much unfinished business here to do.”
  • Bol Bol has yet to play in a game for the Magic, having undergone foot surgery in January before being acquired by Orlando in a February trade. But he’s back on a new contract with the club and told reporters on Monday that he’s fully healthy entering the 2022/23 season (Twitter link via Price).
  • Isaac’s health and Bol’s potential contributions are among the frontcourt questions facing the Magic this season, Price writes for The Orlando Sentinel. Wendell Carter‘s continued progression at both end of the floor will also be important for Orlando as the team looks to incorporate No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, Price adds.