Michael Carter-Williams

Central Notes: Rubio, Washington, Cunningham, Thompson

Ricky Rubio‘s decision to take time away from basketball and focus on his mental health leaves the Cavaliers with an uncertain situation at backup point guard, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes in a mailbag column. Rubio didn’t offer any indication of how long he might be inactive, so there’s no way of knowing if he’ll be available when training camp opens in seven weeks or when the season starts in late October.

There’s no urgency for Cleveland to make a roster move, Fedor adds. The Cavs signed free agent Ty Jerome in the belief that he can handle a larger role than he had with Golden State, and Donovan Mitchell, Caris LeVert and two-way player Craig Porter Jr. are all capable of running the offense for short stretches. Fedor points out that there aren’t any strong options remaining in free agency, but Kendrick Nunn, Michael Carter-Williams, George Hill, Ish Smith, and D.J. Augustin are among the players still available.

General manager Mike Gansey scheduled a trip to Malaga, Spain, this summer to visit with Rubio and watch the Spanish World Cup team in action, according to Fedor. However, Rubio left training camp before Gansey arrived, so he devoted the trip to scouting instead.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers have expressed interest in P.J. Washington and may be “lurking” as his standoff with the Hornets continues, Fedor adds. He notes that Cleveland was able to take advantage of a similar situation in a sign-and-trade with Lauri Markkanen two years ago by offering a contract beyond what the Bulls were willing to pay. Fedor states that Rubio and Dean Wade would be enough to match salary if Washington would accept about $15MM per year, but he’s not sure if that and a few second-round picks would satisfy Charlotte.
  • Cade Cunningham is the only untouchable player on the Pistons‘ roster, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic writes in his annual evaluation of the team’s most valuable assets. Even though he missed most of last season after shin surgery, Cunningham is still viewed around the league as a potential superstar, according to Edwards. Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and rookie Ausar Thompson follow Cunningham on Edwards’ list.
  • Overtime Elite general manager Gerald Wilkins believes Thompson has a bright NBA future, per Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Wilkins offered a glowing recommendation to Jarrett Jack, a new member of the Pistons‘ coaching staff under Monty Williams. “He would ask me things like what are his strengths, what are his weaknesses, how can I get him the ball,” Wilkins said. “I would just tell him, ‘Just put him on the floor. Just put him in the game. They are basketball players, Ausar and Amen. They’re basketball players. You put him on the floor and a lot of good things are going to happen.’”

Magic Exercise Option On Bitadze, Decline Two Others

The Magic have exercised their team option on reserve center Goga Bitadze for the 2023/24 season, while turning down their options on veteran point guard Michael Carter-Williams and combo forward Admiral Schofield, the club has announced in a press release (Twitter link).

Bitadze’s team option is worth $2,066,585. Carter-Williams would have earned $3.1MM next year, while Schofield’s option was worth $2MM.

Bitadze, still just 23, joined the Magic midway through 2022/23 after spending his prior three-and-a-half NBA seasons with the Pacers. He carved out a role as a valuable bench option for a super-sized young Orlando club after being waived by Indiana.

Across his 17 healthy contests for Orlando, the 6’11” big man averaged 5.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.2 APG and 0.9 BPG in just 15.0 MPG.

Though Orlando finished outside of the postseason picture with a 34-48 record last year, the rebuilding team is loaded with intriguing lottery talent among its starters, including the two picks the Magic added in last week’s draft, former Arkansas guard Anthony Black and ex-Michigan swingman Jett Howard. Bitadze makes sense for the timeline of the team as a young, cost-efficient option off the bench with plenty of upside left.

Carter-Williams, the 2013/14 Rookie of the Year, returned to the Magic in February after the club waived him during the 2021/22 season, as he was recovering from a left ankle surgery. He appeared in just four games during this most recent stint with Orlando, averaging 4.3 PPG, 1.8 APG and 1.3 RPG in 11 MPG. It remains to be seen if the well-traveled 31-year-old will get another league opportunity.

The 6’5″ Schofield has spent two of his three NBA seasons thus far with the Magic. In 37 games last year, he averaged 4.2 PPG on .451/.324/.913 shooting splits.

Magic Sign Michael Carter-Williams To Two-Year Deal

The Magic have signed free agent guard Michael Carter-Williams, the team announced (via Twitter).

Shams Charania of The Athletic was the first to report the deal, tweeting that it’s a two-year contract with a team option for 2023/24.

Carter-Williams, 31, was the No. 11 pick of the 2013 draft out of Syracuse, winning Rookie of the Year with the Sixers in the ’13/14 season. He has bounced around a good amount since, having also played for Milwaukee, Chicago, Charlotte, Houston and Orlando.

The veteran guard, who is known for his defense, originally caught on with the Magic at the end of the 2018/19 season, signing a couple of 10-day contracts and then a rest-of-season deal. He signed a one-year, minimum-salary deal to remain with Orlando that summer, then re-signed with the Magic in the 2020 offseason on a two-year, $6MM contract that ran through the end of 2022.

Carter-Williams’ last NBA appearance came in April 2021 during the ’20/21 season, as he had offseason ankle surgery in August 2021 that kept him sidelined in ’21/22 until he was waived as part of a multiplayer trade. He has been a free agent since he was cut last February.

In 391 games, including 217 starts (25.3 MPG), Carter-Williams holds career averages of 10.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.4 APG and 1.3 SPG on .402/.255/.706 shooting splits. The Magic have an opening on their standard roster, so a corresponding move is not necessary.

Celtics Trade Bol Bol, PJ Dozier To Magic

1:16pm: The deal is official, according to a press release from the Magic. As expected, the team has waived Moore and Carter-Williams.


1:00pm: The Magic will acquire the Celtics’ 2028 second-round pick (top-45 protected) in the deal, while Boston will get the Magic’s 2023 second-rounder (top-55 protected), reports Price (via Twitter).


12:12pm: The Magic will waive veteran guard E’Twaun Moore as part of the deal, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Orlando is also cutting Michael Carter-Williams, tweets Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Both players have been out all season due to injuries.

Brian Robb of MassLive.com confirms (via Twitter) that the second-round pick headed to Boston in the deal will be heavily protected and likely won’t convey.


11:34am: The Celtics have reached an agreement to trade injured players Bol Bol and PJ Dozier to the Magic, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). It’s a cost-cutting move for the Celtics, who will dip below the luxury tax line as a result of the deal.

Boston is sending a second-round pick and cash to Orlando and will get a second-round pick in return, Wojnarowski reports. I’d expect the second-rounder headed to the Celtics to be heavily protected, but we’ll await further details.

Bol and Dozier were sent from Denver to Boston earlier this season in a three-team trade, but neither player was part of the Celtics’ short- or long-term plans. Bol underwent foot surgery that is expected to sideline him for most or all of the season, while Dozier is recovering from a surgery of his own to repair a torn ACL and won’t play until 2022/23.

Both players are on expiring deals, with Bol earning $2.2MM this season and Dozier making $1.9MM. Orlando will acquire both players using trade exceptions, while Boston will create a pair of new trade exceptions equivalent to their salaries.

The Celtics now have a pair of open roster spots and will remain out of tax territory even in the unlikely event that Jaylen Brown is named an All-Star replacement and earns a bonus. As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), the C’s would’ve had a small tax bill of about $2MM if they hadn’t made a move, but they’re now in line to receive a potential eight-figure payout.

While Boston doesn’t have to make any more moves today, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) hears that there are still three or four teams in the mix for Dennis Schröder, with one source estimating there’s a 50/50 chance of a deal.

The Magic have a full 15-man roster, so they’ll have to make at least one more move in order to accommodate the incoming players.

Florida Notes: Chalmers, Knight, Bam, Lowry, Magic

Veteran point guard Mario Chalmers, fresh off a 10-day hardship exception contract with the Heat, has joined the club’s NBAGL affiliate club, the Sioux Fall Skyforce, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). Chalmers will be able to sign his next NBA contract with any team. Winderman adds that veteran point guard Brandon Knight, who enjoyed a more active 10-day hardship exception stint while with the Mavericks, has also rejoined the Skyforce.

Chalmers, 35, did not appear in an actual game during his Heat return stint. He has not played in an NBA contest since appearing in 66 games during the 2017/18 season while on the Grizzlies. The 6’2″ vet served as the starting point guard for Miami’s two most recent championship teams, during the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons. In three games with Dallas, Knight, who went to high school in Fort Lauderdale, averaged 10.0 PPG on 45% field goal shooting, along with 2.7 APG and 2.3 RPG.

There’s more out of the Sunshine State:

  • Sixth Man of the Year candidate Tyler Herro could get fairly pricey should the Heat want to offer him a contract extension when he becomes eligible this summer, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Jackson examines the impact a lucrative Herro deal would have on the club’s long-term payroll, and what it could mean for the team’s future tax payments. The 6’5″ reserve shooting guard, 22, is enjoying his best season as a pro during his third year with Miami, averaging a career-best 20.6 PPG and 4.1 APG, along with 4.9 RPG and 0.6 SPG. He boasts shooting splits of .428/.388/.870.
  • Heat center Bam Adebayo‘s teammates are excited for the big man to possibly make his return this week, writes Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. The 6’9″ big man, an All-Star in 2020, continues to recuperate from a thumb injury and is on track to play on Monday vs. Toronto. He has played in just 18 games this year, having last suited up on November 29. Chiang adds that veteran starting point guard Kyle Lowry, who has played at a borderline All-Star level with his new team, is ready to face off against his last NBA club, the Raptors, for the first time since departing in a sign-and-trade deal this summer. Lowry, 35, was a six-time All-Star with Toronto.
  • Healthy young Magic players were encouraged by the recent bench presence of several injured teammates, who traveled with the club during a recent 1-2 three-game road stint, writes Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. “Once we get everybody healthy, we’re going to build something special over here,” second-year point guard Cole Anthony noted, a somewhat optimistic projection for the team with the worst record in the NBA (8-36). Pricey power forward Jonathan Isaac, who has been out with a torn ACL since August 2020, traveled with the team for the first time since his injury. The 24-year-old recently took part in a team shootaround, along with injured guards Markelle Fultz, Michael Carter-Williams and E’Twaun Moore, but has yet to take contact. Rookie guard Jalen Suggs, the fifth pick in the 2021 draft, was available for two games during the road swing, his first contests with the club since being sidelined by a thumb fracture on November 29.

Magic’s Isaac, Fultz Won’t Be Ready For Opening Night

Young Magic cornerstones Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz, who are both coming off ACL tears, won’t be ready to play in the team’s regular season opener next month, sources tell Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

As Robbins explains, the Magic’s organizational policy is to avoid setting specific timelines or return dates for players who are recovering from injuries. However, Robbins has heard that the team will exercise significant caution with both Isaac and Fultz. The front office views getting the two players back into games and getting them through the 2021/22 season without any new health issues as two of its top organizational priorities, Robbins adds.

“Both of those guys have been, as you would expect if you cover our team, relentless in their approach,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said of Isaac and Fultz. “They’ve been working daily grinding. They both look really good. I will not elaborate on timelines. To me as a layman, this is where I just don’t want any setbacks. … But right now, they continue to progress through their rehab right on course and they’re making progress.”

As Robbins observes, Isaac is about 14 months removed from his ACL injury, while Fultz underwent surgery on his ACL only about nine months ago, so the forward may be on track to return a little sooner than the former No. 1 overall pick.

The Magic will also be missing veteran guard Michael Carter-Williams to start the regular season, putting point guard duties in the hands of youngsters Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony.

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • Isaac confirmed on Monday that he has yet to take the COVID-19 vaccine, but suggested that a recent Rolling Stone report misrepresented his views. “I am not anti-vax,” Isaac told reporters, including Robbins. “I’m not anti-medicine. I’m not anti-science. I didn’t come to my current vaccination status by studying Black history or watching Donald Trump press conferences. … But with that being said, it is my belief that the vaccine status of every person should be their own choice, and completely up to them without bullying, without being pressured, without being forced into doing so. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m uncomfortable with taking the vaccine at this time.”
  • Suggs and fellow lottery pick Franz Wagner are both candidates to begin the season in the Magic’s starting lineups, but new head coach Jamahl Mosley isn’t prepared to speculate about the makeup of his starting five quite yet, according to Robbins. “I think it’s a little early to tell which way we’re going to go with lineups and the roster and rotations,” Mosley said on Monday. “We want to get that first part of training camp started just so we can see what the different combinations look like.”
  • Chuma Okeke won’t be participating in full-contact drills at the start of training camp, since he recently sustained a right hip bruise during a voluntary workout, per Weltman (via Robbins).
  • The Magic are expected to have “thorough” discussions with Wendell Carter Jr.‘s reps about a possible rookie scale extension before opening night, says Robbins. “I would love to be here for a long time,” Carter said. “I love Orlando. I love the city. I love my teammates. I love the people here, the weather, everything. So I would love to be here, but right now, I’m just focused on training camp.”

Michael Carter-Williams Has Ankle Surgery, Will Miss Start Of Season

Michael Carter-Williams underwent surgery on his left ankle Monday and won’t be available for the beginning of the 2021/22 season, the Magic announced today (via Twitter).

Doctors removed a bone fragment and repaired a ligament in the ankle, according to president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman. No timetable has been set for the veteran guard to return, with the team stating that it will depend how the ankle responds to treatment and rehabilitation.

Carter-Williams, 29, averaged 8.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists last season, starting 25 of the 31 games he played. He missed the first half of the season with an injured foot, then took over as a starter in mid-February when both Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony were sidelined by injuries.

Carter-Williams, who joined the Magic as a free agent in March of 2019, re-signed with the team last November on a two-year, $6MM contract. His $3.3MM salary for the upcoming season is fully guaranteed.

Magic Notes: MCW, Ennis, Fultz, Coach Search

Veteran Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams provided helpful on-court production and off-court leadership during the first season of his two-year, $6MM deal with the club, writes Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel.

After missing the first half of the year due to a foot injury, Carter-Williams stepped in as the starting point guard on February 12 with Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony both injured for much of the season. He started in 25 of his 31 games for the club, averaging 8.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 4.2 APG.

Carter-Williams’ 2021/22 salary is guaranteed, though it remains to be seen what sort of role he’ll have with a team that has shifted into rebuilding mode.

There’s more out of Orlando:

  • Veteran Magic wing James Ennis helped supply 3-and-D contributions when healthy during a difficult 2020/21 season in Orlando, per Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. Ennis is a free agent, having signed a one-year, $3.3MM contract with Orlando in the offseason after the team traded for him while he was finishing up his prior contract with the Sixers in February 2020. Various injuries (most persistently, a calf ailment) limited Ennis to just 41 total games (37 starts) with the Magic, averaging 8.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.5 APG and 0.8 BPG. He boasted a solid shooting line of .473/.433/.805. Parry notes that the Magic currently do not have a small forward signed for the 2021/22 season, and may look to the 30-year-old Ennis to fulfill that position in the immediate future.
  • Magic point guard Markelle Fultz was frustrated by yet another injury-abbreviated season, the final under his rookie-scale contract, reports Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. Fultz, who underwent surgery for a torn ACL in January, signed a three-year, $50MM extension with Orlando in the 2020 offseason. He helped power the team to a 5-2 start to kick off the 2020/21 season before suffering his injury. A solid finisher and defender, Fultz has yet to develop his outside shooting. Parry notes that rookies Cole Anthony and R.J. Hampton could compete for the long-term starting point guard position in the years ahead, and cautions that an exact timeline for Fultz’s anticipated return next season remains unclear. A standard 12-month ACL recovery would push Fultz’s return to January 2022.
  • The Magic’s newly-opened head coaching job should appeal to candidates eager to develop young players, writes Josh Cohen of Magic.com. The Magic have an intriguing core of under-24 youth, and will add to that tally in a hurry, with possibly two lottery selections and one early first-rounder (the No. 33 selection) in next month’s draft. “This job has tremendous growth potential, which is very attractive,” team president Jeff Weltman said. “It has organizational strength and ownership behind it. We are moving into a new practice facility next year. There are a lot of good things happening here. Most importantly, we have a lot of bright young talented players.”

Injury Notes: Ingram, Vucevic, LeBron, Magic

An MRI has revealed that Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram suffered a left low-ankle sprain during the team’s 108-103 victory over the Warriors on Tuesday, the team has announced via Twitter. Ingram is set to miss Friday night’s contest against the Sixers and is considered day-to-day with the injury beyond that.

Losing Ingram, the club’s second-leading scorer behind All-Star forward Zion Williamson, could be a major blow for New Orleans as the team strives to qualify for the play-in tournament in a crowded Western Conference field. With a 30-36 record, the Pelicans currently sit just two games behind the Spurs for a shot at the play-in tournament in the West this season.

There’s more injury news from around the league:

  • Bulls All-Star center Nikola Vučević (adductor) was able to fully participate in a team practice today, tweets K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Head coach Billy Donovan commented that the sharp-shooting big man, who has missed the club’s last two games, “looked fine.”
  • Lakers All-Star forward LeBron James will miss at least the next two games and potentially more as he grapples with fresh, sharp pain in his sprained ankle, Dave McMenamin told Rachel Nichols and Richard Jefferson on ESPN’s The Jump (Twitter video link). A source informed McMenamin that James is “focusing on the big picture” right now. “Does ‘big picture’ mean two more games missed? I’m not so sure,” McMenamin said. “He is clearly prioritizing using every bit of time he can to… get back for the playoffs.”
  • Magic head coach Steve Clifford has indicated that five injured players could miss the rest of the 2020/21 NBA season, tweets Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. Point guard Michael Carter-Williams and power forward Chuma Okeke are both sidelined with ankle sprains. Wing James Ennis is unavailable with a sore calf. Injury-prone forward Otto Porter Jr., who has played in just 28 games this season for the Magic and Bulls, is struggling with foot pain. Swingman Terrence Ross has been felled by back spasms. “I don’t even know what the time frame [is],” Clifford conceded. “If you look at the schedule now, it’s seven games, I think it’d be 12 days, and I’m not sure even if any of those guys are that close, to be honest with you.”

Cole Anthony Set To Return For Magic

Magic point guard Cole Anthony will return to action on Wednesday after missing nearly two months, the team announced today (Twitter link). Anthony had been sidelined since February 9 due to a fractured rib.

Anthony, the son of former NBA player and current broadcaster Greg Anthony, was drafted out of University of North Carolina by the Magic with the 15th overall pick last fall.

On the season, the rookie has appeared in 25 games, averaging 11.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per contest. He hit a game-winning buzzer beater to beat the Timberwolves on January 20.

Khem Birch (illness) and Michael Carter-Williams (illness) will also return tonight after multiple missing multiple games, per Orlando’s announcement.

The Magic are currently 17-33 and hold the 14th seed in the Eastern Conference.