R.J. Hampton

Southeast Notes: Heat, Martin, Hampton, Banchero

The Heat lost P.J. Tucker to the Sixers and reached agreements with Victor Oladipo and Dewayne Dedmon but they still have some unfinished offseason business, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes.

Restricted free agent Caleb Martin remains unsigned but since the Heat do not have his Bird Rights, they are unable to match offers above the $10.49MM mid-level exception. They are not likely to go above the $6.5MM taxpayer mid-level exception, since that would trigger a hard salary cap. They also have to decide whether to bring back Markieff Morris.

They have both the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions at their disposal to pursue other free agents, but using the bi-annual would also result in a hard cap.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Martin’s restricted free agency buys the Heat a little more time to wait out the Kevin Durant saga while keeping Martin as an option, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald notes. Even if Martin receives an offer sheet in the first day of free agency on Wednesday, the Heat have two days to decide whether to match it.
  • R.J. Hampton has impressed the Magic brass by his willingness to play in the Summer League, according to Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. Hampton wanted to play despite appearing in 64 games during his second NBA season. “I only got to play one summer league,” Hampton said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to get run and get extra reps.”
  • Top pick Paolo Banchero has been displaying his strength in summer league practices, Price tweets. “He’s a very strong individual. I don’t think he even understands how strong he really is,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said of the former Duke forward. “That’s the great part of his willingness to learn and ask questions, that he’s going to find out how he can use his body in different ways to obviously punish defenses but then defensively, how to guard multiple positions.”

Southeast Notes: Adebayo, Wizards, Hampton, Hawks

Heat center Bam Adebayo dominated the first two games of the series against the Sixers, but Joel Embiid‘s return changed that, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. After averaging 23.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in Games 1 and 2, Adebayo put up nine points and three rebounds Friday night while shooting 2-of-9 from the field.

Embiid admitted being upset while watching Adebayo while he was sidelined with a concussion and a broken orbital bone and felt like he needed to make a statement in Game 3. Now it’s Adebayo’s turn to respond when the series resumes Sunday night.

“I still got to be aggressive,” Adebayo said after today’s practice. “That’s part of the game. You see different lineups, you see different personnel and then you’ve just got to adjust your attacks.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Poor team chemistry was among the things that sank the Wizards after a 10-3 start, but the organization believes it has already made moves to fix it, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Team president Tommy Sheppard thought the atmosphere in the locker room was better after Spencer Dinwiddie, Davis Bertans and Montrezl Harrell were moved at the trade deadline. More continuity next season could help, adds Hughes, who points out that Washington used a franchise-record 29 players this year and made significant roster changes twice in six months.
  • Magic guard R.J. Hampton improved in some areas but regressed in others as he was asked to adapt to a new role this season, observes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. The addition of lottery pick Jalen Suggs and the late-season comeback by Markelle Fultz meant Hampton didn’t handle the ball as much as he did after Orlando acquired him in a trade midway through his rookie season. He also became less efficient in finishing at the rim, which caused his scoring average to fall to 7.6 PPG after averaging 11.2 PPG last year in 26 games with the Magic.
  • The Hawks hosted six players in a draft workout Friday, tweets Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. On hand were San Francisco guard Jamaree Bouyea, Washington State big man Mouhamed Gueye and four wing players, Quenton Jackson of Texas A&M, Abu Kigab of Boise State, Kenneth Lofton Jr. of Louisiana Tech and Hunter Maldonado of Wyoming.

Southeast Notes: Kuzma, Oladipo, Spoelstra, Hampton

Versatile Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma is enjoying his new opportunity as Washington’s highest-usage player following a trade from the only NBA team he had ever known, the Lakers, during the 2021 offseason, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Kuzma won a title as a key rotation player for Los Angeles in 2020.

“I’ve referred to him on a number of occasions as our Swiss Army knife,” Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Whatever we need in that moment, he’s capable of doing.”

The 6’9″ Kuzma is averaging 17.2 PPG, 8.7 RPG and 3.4 APG in 60 games for Washington, with shooting splits of .456/.342/.725.

“It’s been a great change of pace for me, a change of scenery,” the 26-year-old said of his new club. “I did as much as I (could) to maximize (myself) when I was with my former team, with changing my role every single year for the betterment of the team and trying to fit in with great players.

“But here, it’s been a lot different, because I don’t necessarily have to do that. My role has changed here. If you think about the first 25 games, I was in a different type of role than I am now: more scoring and just doing more things with the ball. It’s just great to be in a situation where I can just be myself and do what I do, and not dummy myself down.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Heat reserve guard Victor Oladipo returned to the court with Miami for the first time this season on Monday. He logged 11 points while shooting 4-for-7 from the floor in a 123-106 win over Oladipo’s former team, the Rockets. Oladipo called his return from a right knee quadriceps tendon surgery “everything I wanted and more,” per Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald. A former two-time All-Star and 2o18 All-Defensive First Team honoree for the Pacers, Oladipo returned with a 15-minute cap. He has appeared in just 53 contests since the beginning of the 2019/20 NBA season due to a variety of injuries. When asked about when the guard would exceed his current strict on-court time limit, head coach Erik Spoelstra was quick to establish that the club is taking a longer-term approach. “I’m going to temper those expectations,” Spoelstra said. “He’s been out a year. Three years of injuries. Fifteen minutes, that feel amazing to him and to everybody in the locker room. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves on anything else.” 
  • Now that Oladipo is back as a contributor on the hardwood for the Heat, Spoelstra looks forward to having to make some roster adjustments with his perimeter players, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. Miami guards Max Strus and Gabe Vincent rode the bench, until the game was well out of reach in the fourth, to accommodate Oladipo’s return. “Big shout out to Max and Gabe, who have been playing really well,” Oladipo said after the contest. “For them to sacrifice their minutes tonight, I know that’s not easy.” Spoelstra acknowledged the roster crunch but appeared to dismiss it as being an issue for team chemistry. “That’s for amateurs,” Spoelstra said. “Guys understand the opportunity with this group. It’s not all going to be perfect. Everybody is not always going to be happy, but we have a really mature group in this locker room… We have a bunch of guys who can fit in and impact the game. Max and Gabe didn’t play much, but they can come in and do the same thing.”
  • With rookie Magic guard Jalen Suggs missing Orlando’s last two games due to a right ankle sprain, second-year guard R.J. Hampton has been tasked with bigger-ticket defensive assignments, writes Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. The 6’4″ guard may still be struggling on offense, as he is averaging 7.3 PPG on 38.4% field goal shooting this season, but he has exhibited plenty of promise on the other side of the floor.

Injury Updates: Oladipo, Morris, Nets, Brooks, Hampton

Heat guard Victor Oladipo (knee) and forward Markieff Morris (neck) traveled with the team to New York, but won’t play in Friday’s game vs. the Knicks and still don’t have timelines for their respective returns, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

“They were able to do a lot (in Thursday’s practice),” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, per Chiang. “I’m not going to give you all the details. There’s nothing that’s imminent right now. This is all just part of the process. But it was good to have the entire group here at practice and getting after it, and getting a little bit of the rust off by competing and try to get ready for the stretch run.”

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Nets head coach Steve Nash said it’s possible Kevin Durant (knee) and/or Goran Dragic could play as soon as Saturday, but said it’s more likely to happen at some point next week, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Nash expressed optimism that both players will be active beginning either Monday vs. Toronto, Tuesday in Toronto, or Thursday vs. Miami.
  • Dillon Brooks‘ recovery from a left ankle injury is “progressing well,” per Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins (Twitter link via Grizzly Bear Blues). A previous report stated that Brooks is expected to be back at some point in early March, and that timeline hasn’t changed.
  • Magic guard R.J. Hampton had been expected to return to action on Friday night after missing 14 games due to an MCL sprain and bone bruise in his left knee. However, Hampton sprained his left ankle during Friday’s shootaround and is now questionable to play, tweets Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel.

Southeast Notes: Hampton, Williamson, Smart, Collins

Magic guard R.J. Hampton is expected to be in uniform on Friday, Dan Savage of the team’s website reports. Hampton missed the last 14 games due to an MCL sprain and bone bruise in his left knee. He got through back-to-back full contact practices on Wednesday and Thursday without any issues.

“It felt very good to get back on the court with the guys,” Hampton said. “I’ve missed doing what I love for the last month.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hawks should go all-in to acquire Zion Williamson this offseason if the Pelicans make him available and the medical records come back clean, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic argues. Despite some red flags regarding Williamson, he can be as dominant as Joel Embiid if he overcomes his injury and conditioning issues, says Kirschner, citing Williamson’s stats and advanced metrics from last season.
  • Javonte Smart‘s two-way contract with the Heat is a two-year deal, Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets. The rookie guard signed with Miami on February 15th.
  • Hawks forward John Collins missed Thursday’s game due to a right foot strain, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Collins hasn’t played since February 11. He’s averaging 16.8 PPG and 7.9 RPG after signing a five-year, $125MM contract.

Southeast Notes: Hampton, Kuzma, Porzingis, Capela

R.J. Hampton is showing progress from the MCL sprain that has sidelined the Magic guard since January 19th, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel writes.

Hampton said in an Instagram post he’ll be back to action soon, though he still has to ramp up his activity, according to coach Jamahl Mosley. Hampton. a 2020 first-round pick, has averaged 7.2 PPG and 2.4 APG in 42 appearances this season.

“He’s on the court doing a little bit of contact with our coaches, going through some rehab work and continuing to see how he responds to it,” Mosley said. “He’s slowly going against coaches right now and some conditioning as well.”
We have more from the Southeast Division:
  • Though Bradley Beal is sidelined, the Wizards have been playing better since the trade deadline, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington notes. Kyle Kuzma believes players are settling into roles now that the fear of getting traded has passed. “I think we’re great chemistry-wise,” he said. “I think we’ve got a pretty good understanding of roles right now on the team. Everybody’s gelling, fitting in. Everybody’s just doing what they’re supposed to do.”
  • Kristaps PorzingisWizards debut is likely to happen next Friday (February 25) against San Antonio, Hughes tweets. “I anticipate he will, but once again we’ll just have to see,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said of Porzingis, who was acquired from Dallas at the trade deadline.
  • The Hawks are 10th in the East and below .500 after making it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Center Clint Capela said to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic it’s a product of unexpected success for a young team. “Our approach the entire season, we were already thinking we were going to the playoffs,” Capela said. “Our approach wasn’t about the next game; it was, ‘Oh, we won this. We won that.’ That’s the problem with teams that are not used to this. I’m not so shocked.”

R.J. Hampton Expected To Miss Multiple Weeks With Knee Injury

After undergoing an MRI on his injured left knee, Magic guard R.J. Hampton has been diagnosed with an MCL sprain and a bone bruise, the team announced today (via Twitter).

Hampton, who sustained the injury in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s loss in Philadelphia, will likely be sidelined for about two-to-four weeks, barring any setbacks in his recovery process, a source tells Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel.

It’s worth noting that the Magic typically take an extremely cautious approach to their players’ recoveries from injuries and rarely provide specific timelines. In other words, I’d be surprised if Hampton is back on the court two weeks from now. Orlando has the NBA’s worst record (8-38) so far this season, so there’s little incentive to rush back one of the team’s young prospects.

Acquired from Denver in last season’s Aaron Gordon trade, Hampton has averaged 7.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, and 2.4 APG in 42 games (19.4 MPG) for the Magic in 2021/22. While his 36.4% rate on three-point shots is solid, he has struggled to consistently knock down two-pointers (39.3%) and free throws (60.8%).

In Hampton’s absence, the Magic figure to lean more heavily on guards Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs, as well as wings Gary Harris and Terrence Ross. Markelle Fultz, who is practicing with the team as he recovers from his ACL tear, will also figure into the backcourt mix once he’s ready to make his season debut.

COVID-19 Updates: Marshall, Cooper, Hampton, Towns, Brown

The Pelicans’ Naji Marshall has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. Earlier in the day, Nickeil Alexander-Walker became the first New Orleans player to enter protocols this season. Marshall, a second-year forward, has appeared in 19 games off the bench this season.

We have more COVID-19 related updates:

  • Hawks rookie point guard Sharife Cooper has entered the health and safety protocols, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Cooper joins six other Atlanta players currently on the list. The second-round pick has appeared in eight games off the bench this season.
  • Magic guard R.J. Hampton exited the protocols on Thursday, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. He didn’t play on Thursday in order to work on his conditioning. Hampton was placed in the protocols on December 17, which means he produced two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns is asymptomatic, Timberwolves coach Chris Finch told Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). “He is in the best spirits possible,” Finch said, adding Towns was very disappointed he couldn’t play on Thursday. Towns was placed in the protocols on Thursday, joining six other Minnesota players.
  • Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown has entered the protocols, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets.

Three More Magic Players Enter COVID-19 Protocols

After placing forward Ignas Brazdeikis in the health and safety protocols on Thursday evening, the Magic canceled their morning shootaround and have had three more players enter the protocols today, per Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter links). A source tells Price that Terrence Ross, Moritz Wagner, and R.J. Hampton have joined Brazdeikis in the protocols and will be out on Friday vs. Miami.

Since vaccinated players haven’t been required to undergo daily testing for COVID-19 this season, those players have only been tested when they show symptoms of the virus or when they’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. If Brazdeikis tested positive on Thursday, it likely prompted a round of testing for the entire roster.

Assuming Brazdeikis, Ross, Wagner, and Hampton have tested positive for the coronavirus, they’ll be out for the next 10 days or until they register two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

Orlando becomes the seventh team to have at least four players currently in the health and safety protocols, joining the Nets, Bulls, Lakers, Bucks, Knicks, and Kings. Orlando is also missing several players due to longer-term injuries, including Jalen Suggs, Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Michael Carter-Williams, and E’Twaun Moore, raising questions about whether tonight’s game vs. the Heat may need to be postponed.

It’s possible the Magic will have the minimum number of players available, but their current group of eight players includes Cole Anthony, Mohamed Bamba, and Gary Harris, all of whom are listed as questionable due to various ailments. Although the team is eligible to sign multiple free agents via the hardship exception, there may not be time before tip-off on Friday night to incorporate any new players.

Meanwhile, over in the Western Conference, Nuggets forward Bol Bol has reentered the health and safety protocols, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link). Bol spent several days in the protocols earlier this month.

Trade Rumors: Simmons, Pelicans, Lakers, Harris, Magic

In the latest episode of the HoopsHype Podcast, Michael Scotto said he’s heard the Pelicans discussed a deal with the Sixers that would’ve seen New Orleans give up a series of first-round picks and swaps in exchange for Ben Simmons. The 76ers have been seeking an All-Star caliber player in any Simmons deal, but Scotto says Brandon Ingram wasn’t included in those discussions.

The Pelicans do have an excess of first-rounders as a result of their Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday trades. However, I imagine Philadelphia would want to turn those picks into players who could make an immediate impact, rather than simply loading up for the future. So perhaps a third team would be necessary in order for the Pelicans and Sixers to make real progress.

Scotto and his guest, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, talked about a handful of other trade rumors from around the NBA during the podcast. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Following up on his report about the Lakers internally discussing the possibility of trading Russell Westbrook, Fischer says the team’s only outgoing call in which Westbrook’s name may have come up was to the Sixers about Simmons. “The conversation pretty much was, ‘We’re interested in Ben. How would we get there?'” Fischer explained. “The obvious solution is Russell Westbrook. He’s not a player on that Sixers list that they have.”
  • Fischer also said he received some push-back from Brooklyn about his report that the Nets may be open to moving sharpshooter Joe Harris. “Perhaps, teams who had early conversations with Brooklyn about Joe and they didn’t categorically shut them down, maybe that’s all this was,” Fischer said.
  • Addressing Shams Charania’s recent report that the Magic want a first-round pick for Terrence Ross, Scotto says some executives have talked about being open to giving up two second-rounders for the veteran swingman. However, Scotto’s not sure that would “move the needle” for Orlando. As I noted on Monday, Ross is under contract through 2022/23, so there’s no urgency for the Magic to move him.
  • Fischer has heard that before the Nuggets agreed to send R.J. Hampton the Magic as part of the Aaron Gordon trade in March, they were trying to include Bol Bol in Hampton’s place.