Wendell Carter

Wendell Carter Jr. To Undergo Another Surgical Procedure On Left Hand

Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. will have an operation to stabilize the third metacarpal on his left hand, the team announced in a press release (via Twitter).

The preventive procedure involves inserting a plate at the site of a fracture on Carter’s hand. He suffered the fracture in early November and had it surgically repaired at the time.

Carter will be reevaluated in approximately four weeks, the team added. That should give him plenty of time for offseason workouts before training camps open in late September.

Although he missed more than a month with the original injury, Carter still appeared in 55 games, making 48 starts and averaging 11.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 25.6 minutes per night.

During exit interviews after the Magic were eliminated from the playoffs, Carter talked about the difficulty of trying to return after surgery, per Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel.

“It affected me in a lot of ways,” Carter said. “Mentally, being out of the rotation for a while, just watching from the sidelines while they’re doing such a fantastic job and then the pressure of coming back and picking up where Goga (Bitadze) and (Moritz Wagner) left off. It was tough. Then it got to a point where I was doubting myself a little bit — just being honest.”

Carter, 25, has two years remaining on his contract. He will earn $11.95MM next season and $10.85MM in 2025/26 before becoming an unrestricted free agent that summer.

Magic Notes: Banchero, Isaac, Carter, Suggs

The Magic shot a dismal 34.3% from the floor during their two losses in Cleveland to open their first-round series, then got off to an ominous start on Thursday in Game 3, missing their first eight field goal attempts.

However, as Kendra Andrews of ESPN details, the shots eventually started falling for Orlando, which ultimately had one of the best offensive playoff performances in team history. The Magic blew out the Cavaliers by a score of 121-83 for their first home playoff win since 2011.

“Give credit to us being home and backed by the fans,” forward Paolo Banchero said. “Starting your first two playoff games on the road in that environment was tough for everybody … Being home just calms you down.”

As Josh Robbins of The Athletic writes, it was a big night for Banchero, one of several young Magic players who are competing in the playoffs for the first time. Last season’s Rookie of the Year racked up a game-high 31 points and 14 rebounds in just 29 minutes of action as Orlando ran away with Game 3.

“He’s a winner,” Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said of Banchero. “That’s who he is. We challenged them today to go after some more rebounds, and he did it. That’s the thing about him: He’s going to find whatever way necessary to help his team win.”

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • After starting Jonathan Isaac alongside Banchero and Franz Wagner in the frontcourt in the first two games of the series, Mosley inserted center Wendell Carter in Isaac’s place for Game 3. “You’ve gotta try something new,” Mosley replied before the game when asked about the adjustment (Twitter link via Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel). “You drop two. You’ve gotta change it up.”
  • The starting lineup change was an effective one. While Carter only had two points and five rebounds on the night, Orlando outscored Cleveland by 19 points in his 25 minutes of action. Banchero credited Carter for helping the Magic control the glass — after being out-rebounded 102-81 in the first two games, Orlando grabbed 51 boards to Cleveland’s 32 in Game 3. “We thought we had been playing pretty good defense but we had been giving up way too many rebounds. We really wanted to put an emphasis on neutralizing their bigs, keeping them off the boards and I think Wendell Carter was a huge part of that,” Banchero said, per Andrews.
  • Jalen Suggs showed no ill effects from the injury scare he sustained in Game 2. Suggs scored 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting and was deployed as the primary defender on Donovan Mitchell. He was a +25 in his 28 minutes on the court. “What we did tonight was special,” said Suggs, one of two Magic youngsters – along with Wagner – who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason.
  • In an entertaining and in-depth profile for ESPN, Tyler R. Tynes looks at the growth Banchero has shown since being drafted first overall in 2023 and his importance to the organization. “We call him The Franchise because he is The Franchise. We’re just the supporting cast,” Cole Anthony told ESPN. “Man, he had 23 a game for most of the year. And until Wendell got his rebounding up, he was leading our team in every statistical category except steals. That’s what you call a franchise.”

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

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

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

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

Here are a few more notes on the Magic:

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

Fischer’s Latest: Pelicans, Stewart, Hawks, Olynyk, Drummond, Lakers, Nets

The Pelicans are searching for a rim protector, but they’ve had to cross at least two names off their wish list, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Sources tell Fischer that New Orleans was hoping to acquire Jarrett Allen, but the Cavaliers aren’t willing to include him in trade talks. The team also targeted Wendell Carter, but Fischer’s sources say the Magic refuse to make him available.

Fischer cites Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart as a potential alternative for the Pelicans. Detroit agreed to two deals today and may be willing to consider moving Stewart as the team reshapes its roster. Hawks centers Onyeka Okongwu and Clint Capela could also be possibilities, according to Fischer.

Fischer hears that the Pelicans and Hawks were involved in “tangible trade talks” this week involving both centers, along with guard Dejounte Murray, who’s considered one of the top names on this year’s trade market. However, sources tell Fischer that the teams haven’t been able to make any progress toward a deal.

Fischer offers more inside information on the eve of the deadline:

  • Jazz center Kelly Olynyk could be on the way to Toronto, but there are plenty of teams interested in acquiring him, whether it’s from Utah or the Raptors, according to Fischer’s sources. Fischer names the Sixers, Heat and Warriors as teams that have shown interest in Olynyk, adding that the Celtics were also on that list before today’s trade for Xavier Tillman.
  • The Tillman deal removes one suitor for Bulls center Andre Drummond, Fischer adds. The Sixers remain interested in Drummond as a short-term starter while Joel Embiid is injured, according to Fischer, who also lists the Mavericks and Suns as potential landing spots. Fischer’s sources say the Rockets and Lakers also had interest in the veteran center, but they’re considered less likely alternatives. Chicago is hoping for multiple second-round picks in exchange for Drummond, with Fischer noting that it seems like a reasonable price considering that’s what the Celtics gave Memphis for Tillman. Fischer also cautions that the Bulls are hoping to advance through the play-in tournament, so Drummond isn’t certain to be dealt.
  • The Lakers like several Brooklyn players, including Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie and Royce O’Neale, Fischer adds. He also points out that the Nets have Lonnie Walker, who was popular with L.A. fans in last year’s playoffs and has attracted interest from several contenders.

Fischer’s Latest: Wiggins, Paul, Portis, Looney, Kuzma, Stewart, Beauchamp, Hield, Bogdanovic

The Mavericks and Bucks are mulling whether to make a serious run at the Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins, Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer reports.

Wiggins’ name has been prominently mentioned in trade rumors, due to his subpar production, the Warriors’ disappointing record and a contract that runs through the 2026/27 season.

Dallas is willing to part with either Grant Williams or Tim Hardaway Jr. for salary-matching purposes to acquire a frontcourt player who can shoot and also make a difference defensively. The Mavs are also willing to include their 2027 first-round pick for the right player, Fischer adds.

As for the Bucks, they’d have to include Bobby Portis to cobble salaries to match Wiggins’ $24.3MM. It’s a tough call for the Bucks, considering Portis’ steady contributions in recent years. Fischer notes that Portis was one of Golden State coach Steve Kerr’s favorites during the FIBA World Cup run with Team USA.

Here are several more interesting tidbits from Fischer:

  • Chris Paul, whose $30MM contract for next season is non-guaranteed, is unlikely to be dealt by the Warriors. Jonathan Kuminga is off limits. However, Kevon Looney and his $7.5MM contract could be swapped out, depending what need Golden State ultimately wants to target. Looney’s contract for next season is only guaranteed for $3MM.
  • The Wizards are unwilling to deal Kyle Kuzma unless they get multiple first-rounders for him. The Mavericks and Kings have known interest but would likely need to find a third team to facilitate such a deal. Washington has made it known it’s looking for draft capital in any trade.
  • Along with previously reported interest in the Hornets’ P.J. Washington, the Mavericks have their eyes on Pistons forward Isaiah Stewart. The latter signed a four-year, $64MM extension last offseason. Dallas also showed interest in Magic big man Wendell Carter but Orlando doesn’t seem inclined to move its starting center.
  • The Bucks are willing to include MarJon Beauchamp and the 2024 second-round pick that the Trail Blazers owe them in trade discussions.  The Bucks and Sixers have also contacted teams that hold plenty of draft capital, such as the Thunder and Pelicans, regarding potential future first-round pick swaps or packages of second-round picks in exchange for extra first-round selections.
  • Speaking of the Sixers, they’re interested in Pacers sharpshooter Buddy Hield. Hield would upgrade their offense and his $18.5MM expiring contract wouldn’t impact their desire to have more cap space than any other team this summer. Picking up more first-round capital, as mentioned above, would facilitate their ability to acquire a wing like Hield or the Pistons’ Bojan Bogdanovic.
  • The Celtics are willing to use their $6.2MM trade exception for bench help. Otto Porter Jr. and Lonnie Walker are among the names Fischer has heard as potential Boston acquisitions.

Fischer’s Latest: Carter, Brogdon, Smart, Hawks, Jones, Hornets

While there will likely be plenty of trades completed between now and next Thursday’s deadline, many of the players whom rival teams had hoped would hit the market aren’t expected to be available this season, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

As Fischer details, that list of players who are believed to be off-limits includes several current and former All-Stars, such as Lauri Markkanen, Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen, and Karl-Anthony Towns. It also features talented forwards Mikal Bridges and Jerami Grant, as well as rising talent Jonathan Kuminga.

Fischer isn’t the first to report that those players likely won’t be on the move at the deadline, so no names in that group come as real surprises. However, Fischer adds a few more players to the list of unlikely trade candidates, writing that Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. is no longer considered available and citing league personnel who are skeptical that the Trail Blazers will part with Malcolm Brogdon.

Additionally, while a handful of clubs – including the Bucks and Lakers – have called the Grizzlies to inquire about Marcus Smart, according to Fischer, Memphis has shown no interest in moving the veteran guard, who remains in the team’s plans beyond this season.

Here are a few more trade-related notes and rumors from Fischer:

  • The Hawks are viewed by rival executives as the most “active and aggressive” team in the trade market, with Dejounte Murray, Clint Capela, De’Andre Hunter, and AJ Griffin among the players who could be moved. While previous reports have indicated that Trae Young and Jalen Johnson are Atlanta’s only two untouchable players, Fischer says the club values Bogdan Bogdanovic as highly as any player on its roster outside of Young and Johnson.
  • Even though the Wizards are seeking a first-round pick for Tyus Jones, rival executives are confident that Washington will ultimately accept a package consisting of multiple second-rounders for the veteran point guard, per Fischer. Jones is on an expiring contract and wouldn’t be a starter on many teams, so a first-rounder would be a high price to pay.
  • Hornets forward P.J. Washington and center Nick Richards are generating a good deal of interest from potential trade partners, league sources tell Fischer. Kyle Lowry, Gordon Hayward, and Miles Bridges are among Charlotte’s other trade candidates.
  • We also passed along several of Fischer’s trade rumors related to Western Conference teams in a separate article.

Trade Rumors: Pelicans, Carter, Tate, Hayes, Nets

The Pelicans are looking to shore up their frontcourt defense, but there aren’t many impact centers available on the trade market, according to Christian Clark of NOLA.com (subscriber link). Magic big man Wendell Carter Jr. has been floated as a potential trade candidate, but Clark hears there is some “doubt” about Orlando moving him this season.

New Orleans doesn’t appear to hold much interest in Atlanta’s Dejounte Murray, but Clark says the Pelicans would make a “significant offer” for Nets wing Mikal Bridges if were ever made available. Multiple reports have stated Brooklyn is not interested in moving the 27-year-old.

According to Clark, the Pelicans may look for help on the buyout market if they can’t find a trade they like. They have an open roster spot and have Malcolm Hill on a 10-day deal, Clark notes.

Here are a few more trade-related notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Athletic reported on Wednesday that the Suns have shown some level of interest in Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate. John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM has heard the opposite, tweeting that Phoenix isn’t interested in Tate. The 28-year-old is earning $6.5MM this season and has a $7.1MM team option for 2024/25.
  • Pistons guard Killian Hayes received a Did Not Play — Coach’s Decision for the first time this season in Wednesday’s loss vs. Cleveland. According to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic, Hayes’ benching felt like “the unofficial end” of the former lottery pick’s time in Detroit, though it’s unclear if Hayes will be moved prior to the February 8 deadline or perhaps let go in the offseason. “It’s just hard to play four point guards,” head coach Monty Williams said. “(Marcus) Sasser is playing off ball just to get him on the floor. I talked to Killian (before the game) and told him this was the route I was going to go.” Edwards hears Detroit nearly traded Hayes last summer before hiring Williams, who was interested in working with the 22-year-old.
  • Multiple Nets players, including Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale, have popped up in recent trade rumors. Cam Thomas says the team is doing its best to ignore the outside noise, as Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post relays. “Unspoken really, nobody really wants to talk about everybody’s situation,” Thomas said. “Everybody reads stuff, but I think it’s (an) unspoken (thing). Nobody talks about that kind of stuff. We’re just enjoying the moment that we have here and just playing together as a team. We playing well as a team. Everybody gets along, so we’re just enjoying the moment.

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.

Trade Rumors: Murray, Sixers, Mavs, Brown, Pelicans

Shams Charania of The Athletic said a few days ago during an appearance on FanDuel’s Run it Back show (Twitter video link) that he has “not gotten the sense” that the Sixers will aggressively pursue Dejounte Murray, despite being identified earlier this month as a potential suitor for the Hawks guard.

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype also cast some doubt this week on the idea that Murray will be a top target for Philadelphia, suggesting that he’s a “questionable fit” next to rising 76ers star Tyrese Maxey.

However, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer isn’t ruling out the possibility, exploring the idea of the Sixers going after Murray and positing that he would be a better fit alongside Maxey than he has been with Trae Young in Atlanta, since Maxey wouldn’t be uncomfortable operating off the ball and focusing on scoring.

Still, Pompey acknowledges that the Hawks’ reported asking price for Murray – two first-round picks and a quality player – would be steep for a Philadelphia team that isn’t necessarily loaded with valuable assets. It’s also unclear whether the Sixers view Murray as the sort of player for whom they’d be willing to sacrifice future cap flexibility, including 2024 cap room.

Here are a few more trade-related notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • Brad Townsend of The Dallas News previews the trade deadline from the Mavericks‘ perspective, noting that minority owner and head of basketball operations Mark Cuban confirmed during a recent radio appearance that the team would like to further fortify its frontcourt. “If we can get a big who can also create off the dribble, that’d be a plus,” Cuban said. “Six-eight or bigger.”
  • After being sent from Indiana to Toronto this week, veteran guard Bruce Brown knows that he’s considered a candidate to be moved again before the trade deadline, but he tells Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link) that he’d be fine staying with the Raptors and hasn’t asked them to seek a deal. “I don’t know anything. I’m not requesting anything,” Brown said “… That’s up to (team president) Masai (Ujiri), whatever he wants to do. If he moves me he moves me. If he doesn’t, I’ll stay. It is what it is.”
  • After ducking below the luxury tax line by sending Kira Lewis to Toronto (via Indiana), what’s next for the Pelicans on the trade market? Christian Clark of NOLA.com explores that topic, suggesting that the team will almost certainly continue to keep an eye out for a center. Cavaliers starter Jarrett Allen has long been a top target for New Orleans, but he’s unlikely to be available, so a player like Wendell Carter of the Magic or Onyeka Okongwu of the Hawks could be a more viable option, suggests Clark. The poison pill provision applies to Okongwu, which could complicate any deal that involves him.

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.