Markelle Fultz

Wolves’ Mike Conley Named 2023/24 Teammate Of The Year

Timberwolves point guard Mike Conley has been named the NBA’s Teammate of the Year for the 2023/24 season, the league announced today (via Twitter).

The Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award “recognizes the player deemed the best teammate based on selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and a role model to other players, and commitment and dedication to team,” per the NBA.

The award isn’t voted on by media members. A panel of league executives select the 12 finalists (six from each conference) for the award, while current players vote on the winner. Players receive 10 points for a first place vote, seven for second, five for third, three for fourth, and one point for fifth place.

Here are this season’s full voting results, according to the NBA, with the player’s point total noted in parentheses:

It’s the second Teammate of the Year award for Conley, won also won it in 2018/19 when he was a member of the Grizzlies.

The award, which was introduced in ’12/13, had gone to Jrue Holiday in each of the past two seasons (and three of the past four), with Damian Lillard taking it home in 2021.

Magic Notes: Chippy Play, Fultz, Game 1 Flop, Lineup, Mosley

Game 1 between the Magic and Cavaliers had an edge to it and it could get even more chippier as the series goes along, The Athletic’s Josh Robbins opines. Orlando’s Markelle Fultz was assessed a Flagrant-1 foul and the Cavs’ Georges Niang received a technical foul for an altercation during the series opener.

“Either he was going to hit me first or I was going to hit him,” Fultz said. “So, I just took the initiative to body up, not trying to hurt nobody or anything like that but just deliver a hit, make it be known that we’re not soft.”

Cleveland’s Isaac Okoro received a technical foul for shoving Moritz Wagner during another incident.

“We love that stuff,” Magic guard Cole Anthony said. “Especially for us, we’re a hard-nosed team. We want the game to be physical. So, I think that for us that works in our favor.”

We have more on the Magic:

  • The Magic tried to quickly move on from their 97-83 loss in Game 1, in which they shot a woeful 32.6% from the field. “It’s the first game,” center Wendell Carter said. “We don’t want to overreact to anything. The first game on the road, we got to see what kind of game they want to play. I think we’re good. I thought we did really good defensively. I think offensively we struggled. Holding a team under 100 is always a good defensive outing.”
  • There will be no changes to the starting lineup for Game 2 tonight, Robbins tweets. Jalen Suggs, Gary Harris, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Jonathan Isaac will take the court for the opening tip.
  • In a subscriber-only piece, Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel details how Jamahl Mosley‘s methods propelled his team to the postseason, comparing and contrasting him to other recent first time head coaches who flopped on rebuilding teams.

NBA Announces Finalists For Sportsmanship, Teammate Of The Year Awards

The NBA announced the 2023/24 finalists for a pair of awards on Tuesday, naming the six players who are eligible to win the Sportsmanship Award for this season, as well as the 12 players who are in the running for Teammate of the Year honors.

The Sportsmanship Award honors the player who “best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court,” per the NBA. Each of the league’s 30 teams nominated one of its players for the award, then a panel of league executives narrows that group to six finalists (one from each division) and current players voted for the winner.

The trophy for the Sportsmanship Award is named after Joe Dumars, the Hall-of-Fame guard who won the inaugural award back in ’95/96. This season’s finalists are as follows (via Twitter):

None of this year’s finalists for the Sportsmanship Award have earned the honor in the past, so the 2023/24 winner will be a first-timer. Mike Conley won the award last year for a record fourth time.

Meanwhile, the NBA also announced its finalists for the Teammate of the Year award for 2023/24. According to the league, the player selected for the honor is “deemed the best teammate based on selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and commitment and dedication to team.”

The voting process is similar to the Sportsmanship Award — a panel of league executives selects 12 finalists (six from each conference) for the award, then current players vote on the winner.

Like Conley with the Sportsmanship Award, last season’s Teammate of the Year – Jrue Holiday – has the record for most times winning the award (three), but isn’t among the finalists for 2023/24. Of this season’s 12 finalists, the only one to take home the award in the past is Conley, who claimed it in 2019.

The Teammate of the Year finalists finalists are as follows (via Twitter):

Southeast Notes: Coulibaly, Rozier, Hawks Injuries, Fultz

Wizards rookie wing Bilal Coulibaly is out for the rest of the season with a wrist injury, but he left a strong impression on his teammates and coaching staff in his first year in the league, Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network writes, cementing his place as one of the franchise’s cornerstones moving forward.

Fantastic [season]. He made the Rising Stars Challenge. Going to All-Star weekend in your first year is huge,Jordan Poole told MSN. “He got a lot of playing time, a lot of experience, which is huge, especially for a rookie… he had a really good season and I’m excited for his future.

Coulibaly, 19, averaged 8.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.8 blocks per game while often guarding opposing star players like Luka Doncic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the season wore on, Hughes writes.

Interim head coach Brian Keefe raved about Coulibaly’s work ethic as he heads into his first full NBA offseason. According to Hughes, Keefe described the rookie’s maturity as “beyond his years.”

There’s still going to be growth, there’s still going to be an opportunity to learn,” teammate Anthony Gill said. “But this offseason is going to be very important for him getting stronger and understanding his body more, understanding the game and getting more confident in what he can do at a high level. It’s going to be a very important offseason for him, but I know he’s ready to attack it. We’ve already talked about it.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Terry Rozier‘s transition to the Heat hasn’t gone smoothly at times, with the ex-Hornet having endured an injury, a three-point shooting slump and the Heat’s longest losing streak since 2008. However, as The Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang writes, games like the one Rozier had on Wednesday against the Cavaliers make it all worth it. He scored nine points in the final 1:24 of the game to lead Miami to a much-needed victory. Heat players and coaches are continuing to tell Rozier to be aggressive, Chiang writes, since his usage rate and shot volume have decreased.
  • The Hawks provided injury updates for several players on Thursday. Kobe Bufkin (toe) was reevaluated Tuesday and is making progress from his toe sprain. He’ll be reevaluated again in seven-to-10 days. AJ Griffin (ankle) underwent an MRI on Wednesday, confirming a right high ankle sprain. He’ll also be reevaluated in seven-to-10 days. Jalen Johnson (ankle) left Monday’s game against the Lakers due to a right ankle sprain, and he’ll be looked at again in one week.
  • Magic guard Markelle Fultz continues to face obstacles in his seven-year NBA career, having gone from being touted as the final piece of Philadelphia’s “The Process” to enduring numerous injuries to being traded to Orlando, where he has become a rotation player. As The Ringer’s Nick Friedell observes, Fultz is still just 25 years old despite his long road to where he is today. “I think a lot of people forget that,” Fultz said. “And I forget it as well. And at the same time, I feel like I’m older because I’ve been through so much.” Friedell examines how Fultz is building himself into a different kind of cornerstone for the Magic.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Bridges, Fultz, Coulibaly

Injuries and losses continue to pile up for the Hornets after a brief upturn last month, but head coach Steve Clifford won’t consider tanking over the final 21 games, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

With five rotation members sidelined, Charlotte dropped a close game at Toronto on Sunday night for its fifth loss in the last six games. At 15-46, the Hornets have the league’s fourth-worst record and are two games ahead of San Antonio for a chance to become one of three teams with the best odds at the No. 1 pick, but Clifford doesn’t want to approach the rest of the season that way.

“Look, we’re shorthanded and there’s a big difference between in some of the games you play, there’s going to be a real challenge to win,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean you play losing basketball. And there’s a big difference between teams that just pack it in and teams that play the right way and win. And I think as an organization, I think trying to win every game is a big thing.”

Seth Curry, Cody Martin and Nick Richards are the latest additions to Charlotte’s injured list, and they were on the bench in street clothes Sunday along with LaMelo Ball and Mark Williams. Boone notes that two-way players Amari Bailey and Leaky Black have been called up to provide some depth, and Marques Bolden was re-signed to a two-way contract last week two days after being waived.

Clifford points out that the remainder of the season will be crucial for those inexperienced players as they try to establish themselves in the NBA, and he doesn’t want to expose them to a culture that’s focused on losing.

“With younger players, to me, it’s absolutely critical that they understand the importance of getting better every day,” Clifford said. “I’m a firm believer, especially for younger guys, that their first experience is the way they view the league, the way they have to be taught how to be a good NBA player. I think they have to gain an understanding of how to win.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Miles Bridges didn’t experience any customs issues during this trip to Canada, Boone tweets. The Hornets forward was denied access to the country during the team’s December 18 visit because of his legal issues.
  • Markelle Fultz was the only Magic reserve to score in double figures Sunday night as he continues to come off the bench after missing three games due to an aching left knee. Fultz told Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel that he isn’t concerned about not starting (Twitter link). “If I’m in the game, [I’m] playing as hard as I can,” Fultz said. “But I don’t really care about that, man. I care about winning any way possible.”
  • After missing three games with a pelvic contusion, rookie Bilal Coulibaly isn’t on the Wizards‘ injury report for tonight’s game at Utah, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

Southeast Notes: Mann, Ball, Fultz, Heat, Wizards

There wasn’t much playing time available for Tre Mann on a talented Oklahoma City team, but he moved into a starting role after being traded to the Hornets, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. With LaMelo Ball still injured, Mann has been tasked with running Charlotte’s offense and he’s averaging 13.7 points and 7.3 assists in his first three games.

“I think I’m fitting in pretty well,” Mann said. “I’m just coming out, trying to play hard around a bunch of talented guys. We’ve all got really good IQ, so it’s easy playing with guys like that. I think I’m playing well. I’m just trying to show off my playmaking ability as much as I can and it’s been fun.”

Ball will miss his 12th straight game tonight in Utah, but he’s making progress toward returning from a sprained right ankle. A source tells Boone that Ball has resumed on-court activities and is steadily increasing his workload. Mann believes the two guards can form an effective combination whenever Ball comes back.

“I think he can play a little bit off ball and I can do the same,” Mann said. “So, It’s his team and I’m going to adjust to whatever is better for him. For right now, I’m just trying to go out there and play team ball.”

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic will be without Markelle Fultz for their first game after the All-Star break, writes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. The seventh-year guard continues to deal with a nagging left knee injury, which has limited him to just 21 games thus far in 2023/24. It’s unclear how much more time Fultz will miss beyond Thursday’s contest in Cleveland, but it’s a situation worth monitoring down the stretch, as the 25-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • Star forward Jimmy Butler missed the Heat‘s final three games leading into the break due to the death of a family member, but he was back at practice on Thursday and will be available for Friday’s game in New Orleans, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Josh Richardson (right shoulder dislocation) and Terry Rozier (right knee sprain) will both be out Friday, but they’re traveling on the team’s four-game road trip, Jackson adds. Veteran big man Kevin Love said Rozier was moving well at Thursday’s practice, though he did not do any live drills (Twitter link via Jackson). Richardson, meanwhile, was in street clothes and wearing a sling. Head coach Erik Spoelstra indicated Rozier had a chance to suit up during the road trip, but the prognosis for Richardson was less optimistic, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link). Guard Tyler Herro is questionable for Friday’s contest due to right foot soreness.
  • Key labor unions in northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., publicly announced on Tuesday that they are opposed to Monumental Sports’ plan to move the Wizards from D.C. to Alexandria, Virginia, according to The Associated Press (link via The Northern Virginia AFL-CIO and member unions cited in part an inability to reach a deal for union members to work on construction projects. It’s the latest obstacle in the proposed move, which has drawn opposition from several key figures in the region.

Rory Maher contributed to this post.

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.

Stein’s Latest: Hield, Wiggins, Finney-Smith, O’Neale, Fultz, McDermott, Osman

The Pistons and Wizards pulled off a trade involving four players and two draft picks on Sunday. Expect a lot more activity in the coming weeks, according to Marc Stein in his latest Substack post.

Stein offers a number of interesting tidbits from around the league:

  • Buddy Hield‘s name was prominently mentioned around the trade market after the veteran guard and the Pacers failed to reach an extension agreement during training camp. Sources tell Stein that Indiana continues to look for ways to move Hield. The Pacers are trying to package his expiring $18.6MM contract and a future first-rounder to get an impact player. Raptors forward Pascal Siakam continues to be talked about as a potential Pacers target. However, Indiana would be reluctant to give up second-year guard Bennedict Mathurin or rookie Jarace Walker in any trade.
  • Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins is looked upon as another potential Pacers target but it may be difficult for Golden State to create a market for him, Stein writes. Wiggins not only has three more years left on his contract, his production has nosedived.
  • Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale could be on the move. The Nets are listening to offers for both of those forwards and Stein suggests the Cavaliers should pursue O’Neale, considering they need a wing and he’s close friends with Donovan Mitchell. O’Neale has an expiring contract, while Finney-Smith is signed through 2025/26.
  • Speaking of expiring contracts, the Magic are “exploring the trade market” the top pick of the 2017 draft. They’ve made guard Markelle Fultz and his $17MM expiring deal available, along with center Wendell Carter Jr, per Stein.
  • Another team dangling expiring contracts is the Spurs. Forwards Doug McDermott and Cedi Osman are available for teams looking to clear cap room this summer or upgrade their second unit, according to Stein.

Southeast Notes: Murray, Love, Butler, Swider, Fultz

Before Immanuel Quickley was traded to Toronto, the Hawks discussed a deal that would have sent Dejounte Murray to the Knicks in exchange for Quickley and a first-round pick, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. Woike references the trade talks as part of a look at what the Lakers might do ahead of the February 8 deadline. L.A. has been mentioned as a possible suitor for Murray, who is considered likely to be dealt soon.

Woike expects the Hawks to ask for Austin Reaves in any deal with the Lakers involving Murray. He adds that if the cost is a first-round pick and a young player capable of contributing right away — which is what Atlanta asked from New York — then it’s hard to picture L.A. meeting it without parting with Reaves. However, sources tell Woike that the Lakers’ front office hasn’t included Reaves in any trade discussions.

Second-year guard Max Christie has moved into the rotation, but Woike notes that his value is lessened because he’s headed toward restricted free agent this summer. Woike identifies the Lakers’ 2029 first-round pick as their greatest trade asset, but he’s not sure if the team would give it up without at least some light protection.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Kevin Love is the latest addition to the Heat‘s injury list, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. After playing 16 minutes Friday night, the veteran big man is listed as questionable for Sunday’s matchup with Charlotte because of a left knee contusion. Jimmy Butler is doubtful with a joint sprain in his right toe, meaning he’ll likely miss his seventh straight game, but Chiang says there’s hope he might be able to return Monday at Brooklyn.
  • Travel issues will prevent Cole Swider from joining the Heat for Sunday’s game, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Swider was sent to Miami’s G League affiliate in Sioux Falls earlier this week and is stuck because of severe weather in the Midwest. He’s expected to join the team in Brooklyn for Monday’s contest.
  • The Magic aren’t using Markelle Fultz in back-to-back games while he works his way back from tendinitis in his left knee, tweets Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel.

Magic’s Fultz Available For First Game In Two Months

Magic point guard Markelle Fultz has been given the green light to suit up on Sunday for his first game in nearly two months, the team has announced (Twitter link). Orlando is facing the Hawks today.

Fultz has been out since November 9 with left knee tendinitis, as Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link) notes.

In his five healthy games for the Magic this season, Fultz has averaged 11.4 PPG on 48.2% shooting from the floor, 4.0 APG, 3.4 RPG, and 1.2 SPG.

Rookie lottery pick Anthony Black has generally been starting in Fultz’s stead, though reserve guard Cole Anthony has taken the lion’s share of minutes at the position.

Beede tweets that an activated Fultz will operate as a reserve for this first game back. Head coach Jamahl Mosley has indicated that Fultz will be working under a restriction of about 12-to-16 minutes per night, per Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution (via Twitter).

At 20-15, the Magic are currently the seventh seed in the East. Their record is identical to that of the No. 6 Heat, as well as the No. 8 Pacers. Every game counts for the Magic in a crowded Eastern playoff race, so this is a critical positive health development. The club is just three games behind the third-seeded Sixers and 5.5 games clear of the No. 11 Hawks.