Wendell Carter

Southeast Notes: Richards, Carter, Lowry, Yurtseven

Hornets center Nick Richards has enjoyed a career year in Charlotte, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

Boone wonders if Richards, who is eligible for restricted free agency this summer, has carved out enough of a role to warrant consideration as a long-term member of the rebuilding club’s roster. Richards is averaging a career-best 7.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 1.0 BPG this season.

“I’m just trying to be more consistent,” Richards said of his improvement this season. “I’m just getting as many blocks as possible, getting as many rebounds as possible. That’s my job, that’s what I’m here for. So, I’ve just got to do it to the best of my ability.”

Boone tweets that Richards will most likely earn another start tonight, as nominal starter Mark Williams is considered doubtful to play through a right thumb sprain.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • In his first contest back with the Magic following a three-game absence, a big overtime victory over the Heat, starting center Wendell Carter Jr. helped galvanize his team, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. The 6’10” big man scored 27 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in Orlando’s 126-114 win. Price notes that the Magic’s defensive efficiency suffered mightily with Carter sidelined.
  • After being sidelined for 15 straight games with a sore knee, Heat point guard Kyle Lowry played off the bench for the first time since January 2013 in Saturday’s loss to Orlando, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (subscriber link). Gabe Vincent drew the start. Lowry is adjusting to the change, having started for 677 consecutive games. “At this point, I know in my heart I’m a starter,” Lowry said. “(Head coach Erik Spoelstra) and I talked and he wants to make sure I’m healthy and not have to change the lineup again and change the rotation. Great communicator he is, great coach he is, I respect (that).”
  • Heat reserve center Omer Yurtseven made his first appearance this season after Cody Zeller broke his nose and had to depart the Magic game, Jackson adds. Yurtseven, a restricted free agent this summer, had just one rebound, one missed shot, and a foul in seven minutes.

Southeast Notes: Porzingis, Cooks, Love, Carter

Wizards big man Kristaps Porzingis had perhaps the best offensive game of his career on Wednesday vs. Atlanta, scoring 43 points on 17-of-22 shooting. However, it wasn’t enough to hold off the Hawks, who pulled out a two-point comeback win in D.C.

As Ava Wallace of The Washington Post writes, Porzingis is one of two starting Wizards forwards – along with Kyle Kuzma – who can become free agents this offseason, and the team’s up-and-down play is a reminder that the way the rest of the season plays out could have a major impact on Washington’s future.

The franchise needs to assess the upside of its current big three (Porzingis, Kuzma, and Bradley Beal), while Porzingis and Kuzma will have to decide whether they believe the Wizards can become a contender. Porzingis, who has said that Washington’s performance the rest of this season will be a factor he considers as he weighs his future, wants to make sure the team’s effort level doesn’t wane in the next few weeks.

“What frustrates me the most is when we have been down or we’re not playing our best basketball and I don’t feel like we want it. I hate that. We were supposed to be the most hungry team out there, we haven’t done anything, we’re not even in the top-six playoff picture,” Porzingis said after a tight win over Detroit on Tuesday. “So I don’t like when we’re not hungry, that’s what bothers me the most. But if I see that, like the games we lost against Toronto and Milwaukee (on Saturday and Sunday)? I felt the hunger in us. I felt like we wanted it, we were going after it, we were fighting hard, it was a physical game — I can live with that. It’s only when we’re not fighting that it bothers me.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Sam Vecenie and Josh Robbins of The Athletic take a closer look at Xavier Cooks, exploring what the 27-year-old forward will bring to the Wizards. Cooks, who has been starring for the Sydney Kings of the NBL, is expected to sign with Washington in the coming days. Vecenie praises Cooks for his passing ability and defensive versatility, but suggests that he’ll need to improve his outside shooting if he hopes to establish himself as an NBA rotation player.
  • After not playing at all during his last few weeks in Cleveland, Kevin Love has started his first seven games and averaged 22.2 minutes per night for the Heat. However, he’s not getting the results he hoped for so far, posting a shooting line of just .396/.242/.875, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Nonetheless, head coach Erik Spoelstra still believes Love is a “great fit” for Miami’s starting five. “It’s a short period of time, but he really complements that starting group,” Spoelstra said.
  • Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. has missed three consecutive games due to left hip pain, but is optimistic about his chances of returning to action on Saturday vs. Miami, he tells Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscriber-only link).

Eastern Notes: Heat, Crowder, Embiid, Magic, Bulls

The Heat have frequently been cited as a potential trade suitor for Suns forward Jae Crowder, but a source who has spoken to Miami’s front office believes the Heat may only be interested in Crowder if he’s bought out, reports Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Jackson adds that the Heat would likely still have interest in trading for Crowder if the Suns are willing to accept a “bad contract,” which is presumably a reference to Duncan Robinson‘s deal — it still has three years and $57MM+ left after this season. However, the Suns won’t want to take on Robinson and are a good bet to eventually find a deal they like for Crowder without having to resort to a buyout. In other words, if Jackson’s source is right, it sounds like Miami is a long shot to land the veteran forward.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Sixers will be without star center Joel Embiid on Wednesday vs. Indiana due to left foot soreness, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid landed on Jaxson Hayes‘ foot during the fourth quarter of Monday’s game vs. New Orleans, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link), who says the big man will be considered day-to-day moving forward.
  • Magic center Wendell Carter and swingman Gary Harris have played limited roles since returning from injuries on December 23 — neither player has seen more than 25 minutes of action in any of their three games back. However, Carter and Harris will have their minutes restrictions lifted on Wednesday, per head coach Jamahl Mosley. Orlando still has four players serving suspensions and will have just nine players available vs. Oklahoma City, tweets Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel.
  • Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago evaluates 11 hypothetical – and perhaps far-fetched – deadline trades for the Bulls submitted by fans.

NBA Suspends Two Pistons Players, Nine Magic Players For Roles In Fracas

The NBA has suspended two Pistons players and nine Magic players for their roles in an altercation during the second quarter of Wednesday’s game, the league has announced (Twitter link).

Pistons guard Killian Hayes was given the harshest punishment, a three-game suspension without pay. Magic center Moritz Wagner has been suspended for two games, while Detroit guard Hamidou Diallo was also dinged for a one-game suspension. Both Hayes and Diallo will be held out of the team’s road game against the Bulls Friday.

Hayes, Wagner and Diallo were all ejected from the game Wednesday night, which Detroit won 121-101, for their roles in the on-court confrontation that began when Wagner hip-checked Hayes out of bounds into the Pistons’ bench while the two were scrambling for a loose ball. Diallo subsequently shoved Wagner in the back, but Hayes then escalated the conflict when he punched Wagner in the back of the head. Wagner appeared to lose consciousness after the hit. Several Magic players left the bench to support Wagner and all have been penalized for doing so.

The NBA is additionally suspending eight additional Orlando players after they left the bench to support Wagner during the scuffle: guards Cole Anthony, R.J. Hampton, Gary Harris and Kevon Harris, swingmen Franz Wagner and Admiral Schofield, and big men Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba. All eight players will receive one-game bans.

The NBA’s press release indicates that the absences of the Magic players will be staggered to ensure the team has enough available bodies for its ensuing two contests. Anthony, Gary Harris, Hampton, Bamba, and Carter will miss Orlando’s next game on Friday against the Wizards. Wagner will also begin his two-game suspension on Friday. The others will miss the club’s January 4 matchup with the Thunder.

Wendell Carter, Gary Harris Set To Return For Magic

The Magic, riding a hot streak, got some more good news on December 23, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel, who reports that center Wendell Carter Jr. and swingman Gary Harris will both be available on Friday vs. San Antonio following lengthy injury absences.

Carter has missed Orlando’s last 17 games due to a strained right plantar fascia, having last played on November 18. Harris, meanwhile, has been out since November 30. His 11-game absence was the result of a strained right hamstring.

Carter had averaged a career-high 16.6 points per game to go along with 9.1 RPG and 3.3 APG in his first 15 appearances (all starts) this season, while Harris put up 10.3 PPG on .479/.435/1.000 shooting in six games (three starts). Carter was averaging nearly 33 minutes per game, while Harris was logging almost 26 minutes per night, so both players figure to reclaim key roles now that they’re healthy, though they’ll be on minutes restrictions for the time being.

Still, the Magic will want to be careful not to meddle too much with what has been working for them lately. After losing 20 of their first 25 games, the Magic have won seven of eight and are suddenly just two games out of the play-in picture in the Eastern Conference standings.

Friday’s game should be the first time this season that Orlando doesn’t have at least four players sidelined due to injuries, according to Price.

Jonathan Isaac (left knee), Chuma Okeke (left knee), and Jalen Suggs (right ankle) have been ruled out for the game, though Isaac still appears to be making progress toward his long-awaited return. He went through shootaround today and head coach Jamahl Mosley said Isaac is cleared to practice with the Magic when they do hold practices (Twitter link via Price).

Southeast Notes: Carter, Wizards, Morris, Rozier

Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. is targeting Friday for his return from a right plantar fascia strain, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Carter, who hasn’t played since November 18, told Price that the injured area is “feeling a lot better.”

Carter said he and the team put together a plan several days ago for him to play in Friday’s matchup with the Spurs, which marks the start of a two-game homestand. In preparation, Carter has been scrimmaging with assistant coaches and some of his teammates.

“Since I missed so much [time] it was like 75% getting my foot back right and then the other 25% of making sure — I haven’t played in four weeks — they want to make sure I don’t go out there and tweak something because it hasn’t had that same stress,” Carter said. “Hamstrings, quads, whatever the case may be. They just want to make sure I ramp it up to the point where it might not be exactly how the game will be but it’s close enough to where my body can start to get re-acclimated and be good to go.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • It’s hard to pinpoint a single reason for the Wizards‘ losing streak, which reached 10 games with Sunday’s narrow defeat against the Lakers, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Injuries have been an issue, but the losing continued as Kristaps Porzingis came back Saturday and Bradley Beal returned Sunday.
  • Monte Morris was surprised to learn that he had been traded to the Wizards after five years in Denver, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth admits that he went to dinner with Morris and promised him that he wouldn’t be dealt, but Booth said he couldn’t pass up the chance to acquire Kentavious Caldwell-Pope when the opportunity arose. “I was definitely shocked because I heard different things like I wasn’t going nowhere and stuff,” Morris said. “For me, that just showed me you can’t really put all your eggs in one basket nowhere. Ain’t no hard feelings towards him or nobody. I put that personal side behind me the moment they said the trade was done with. It’s just business.”
  • Hornets guard Terry Rozier suffered a contusion on his right hip while diving for a loose ball Sunday night, according to Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer. Rozier’s status for Monday’s game at Sacramento will be determined later today.

Southeast Notes: Highsmith, Butler, W. Carter, Wizards

It has been a good week for Heat forward Haywood Highsmith so far. He had his best game of the season on Wednesday in Boston, matching a career high with 16 points while chipping in eight rebounds, a pair of blocks, and a career-best four 3-pointers.

Additionally, by remaining on the Heat’s roster through Thursday, Highsmith saw his partial guarantee increase to $700K, tweets Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Highsmith, whose full salary for the 2022/23 season is $1,752,638, will have that entire amount guaranteed if he’s not waived on or before January 7.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • With Jimmy Butler – upgraded to questionable for Friday’s game – on the verge of making his return for the Heat following a seven-game absence, head coach Erik Spoelstra remains confident that better days are ahead for the sub-.500 club, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Even on that (Nov. 16-21) road trip, when we were 0-4, we showed incredible resiliency,” Spoelstra said. “And that’s when I started to think, ‘Alright, we’ve got something here, we do.’ Our record may be this, but we’re developing some requisite toughness, some collective grit, some collective resiliency to be able to deal with runs and deal with crowds, deal with all that kind of stuff.”
  • Magic center Wendell Carter Jr., who has been out since November 18 due to a right plantar fascia strain, told Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday that he hopes to return in a week or two. Price cautions that Carter’s timeline remains fluid and will ultimately depend on how the foot responds to treatment.
  • Billionaire Jeffrey Skoll is buying into Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Wizards and other D.C.-area sports franchises, per Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams of Sportico (subscription required). Skoll, who was the first president of eBay and has an estimated worth of $5.6 billion, will become a minority stakeholder in Ted Leonsis‘ parent company, which also controls the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.

Paolo Banchero, Moritz Wagner Set To Return For Magic

The Magic will have a couple of previously injured big men available for Friday’s home game against Philadelphia, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscription required).

2022 No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero is slated to start (Twitter link) after a seven-game absence due to a left ankle sprain, while Moritz Wagner could make his 2022/23 regular season debut after incurring a right midfoot sprain during preseason.

Banchero had an excellent start to his NBA career, averaging a team-high 23.5 PPG along with 8.3 RPG, 3.6 APG and 0.9 BPG through 11 games (34.6 MPG). According to Price, the former Duke product said he’d never really dealt with an injury before.

I’ve just got to be patient,” Banchero said. “It’s my first time dealing with injuries. At first, I wanted to rush as quickly as possible trying to get back. I realized that wasn’t doing any good for me. I’m trying to learn to be patient and continue to be patient and listen to myself.”

Wagner was productive last season for Orlando, appearing in a career-high 63 games (15.2 MPG) while averaging a 9.0 PPG and 3.7 RPG as a reserve. The 25-year-old should help the team’s frontcourt depth and has been a solid scorer in limited minutes.

Unfortunately, Wendell Carter Jr. (right plantar fascia strain), Chuma Okeke (left knee soreness) and Terrence Ross (illness) have all been ruled out for the Magic (Twitter link). As Price notes in his article, both Carter and Okeke had previously been listed as questionable but were later downgraded. Ross was a last-minute addition to the injury report.

Carter will now have missed four of the past five games with the nagging foot problem. Plantar fascia injuries can be very fickle and typically only respond to rest, so we’ll see how that plays out over the course of the season. Okeke had appeared in all 18 games for the 5-13 Magic but exited Monday’s loss to the Pacers early with the injury.

Southeast Notes: Carter Jr., Cain, Heat Arena, Bol

Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. said that he’d been dealing with right plantar fascia for a few weeks before it sidelined him, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel tweets.

“There’s really no specific thing you can put on it to stop it from hurting,” he said. “It’s just about tolerance, putting heat on it and stuff like that.”

Carter, who is averaging 16.6 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists, has missed three of the last four games.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Jamal Cain, one of the Heat‘s two-way players, says that being a 23-year-old rookie makes him better prepared for the ups and downs of his pro career than a younger newcomer, he told Spencer Davies of Basketball News in a lengthy feature. “When you’re young, you want everything to come so fast, you want everything to be perfect,” Cain said. “But after going through college and going through those ups and downs and realizing that my journey is going to be tough… it’s not going to be all perfect.” Cain has appeared in five games with Miami this season.
  • Miami-Dade County has filed a motion in federal court to immediately terminate the FTX Arena naming rights agreement, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press tweets. The Heat and Miami-Dade County chose to sever ties with cryptocurrency giant FTX after the company filed for bankruptcy.
  • Bol Bol is making a bid for the league’s Most Improved Player award and he believes that improved health has led to his breakout season, Andrew Lopez of ESPN writes. The Magic big man is averaging 13.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. “Now that I’ve been healthy,” Bol said, “I feel like I’ve just been getting better every single day.”

Injury Updates: Magic, Bulls, Celtics, Raptors, Heat, Hayward, More

The Magic will be getting some reinforcements for Friday’s game in Chicago, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Veteran guard Gary Harris has been cleared to make his regular season debut following offseason arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Price reports. Additionally, starting center Wendell Carter Jr. will be back in the lineup after missing Wednesday’s game due to a strained right plantar fascia.

Orlando’s opponents also got some good injury-related news on Friday. As Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes, Bulls guard Coby White (left quad contusion) and forward Patrick Williams (right ankle sprain) both said at Friday’s shootaround that they’ll be able to play against the Magic. White has missed the last eight games as a result of his injury; Williams sprained his ankle on Wednesday, but it appears the injury won’t cost him any games.

Here are several more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • As expected, Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon will be available on Friday vs. New Orleans after missing four games with a hamstring injury. However, the team announced that Marcus Smart (right ankle inflammation) will miss a second straight game (Twitter link).
  • The already shorthanded Raptors will be missing Gary Trent Jr. and Chris Boucher on Saturday vs. Atlanta due to non-COVID illnesses, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. However, Eric Koreen of The Athletic tweets that Dalano Banton‘s ankle sprain isn’t as serious as initially feared and Pascal Siakam (adductor strain) has resumed on-court activity. Another update on Siakam is expected in a week or so, Koreen adds.
  • Heat star Jimmy Butler (knee soreness) has been ruled out for Friday’s game against Washington and it’s possible that Bam Adebayo (knee contusion) won’t be available either, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Adebayo is currently listed as questionable.
  • Hornets forward Gordon Hayward, who has been on the shelf since November 2 due to a left shoulder contusion, has been upgraded from doubtful to questionable for Friday’s game vs. Cleveland, according to the team (Twitter link).
  • Pacers sharpshooter Chris Duarte isn’t expected to be available during the team’s upcoming four-game home stand, but could return from his ankle sprain at some point in the subsequent seven-game road trip, tweets Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. That trip begins on November 27 and runs through December 7.
  • Sixers guard Jaden Springer, currently assigned to the Delaware Blue Coats in the G League, will miss at least one week due to a right quadriceps strain, tweets Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com.