Wendell Carter

Magic Notes: Carter, Bamba, Anthony, Trade Exception

The new four-year extension for center Wendell Carter Jr. is a good deal for both him and the Magic, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Robbins sees the $50MM extension as a much safer investment than the five-year, $100MM contract the Cavaliers gave Jarrett Allen this summer. Carter, who was acquired from the Bulls in March, is a year younger than Allen and appears to have a long career ahead as a reliable big man who can rebound and switch on defense.

New head coach Jamahl Mosley has asked Carter to start taking more three-pointers and has used him at power forward during the preseason alongside Mo Bamba. With Jonathan Isaac and Chuma Okeke both sidelined by injuries, Carter and Bamba could be in the starting lineup for Wednesday’s season opener.

“The one thing that helps him is that he’s got great, active feet, and I think him understanding who’s a shooter, a non-shooter, those are going to be some scenarios that we’re going to have to continue to monitor,” Mosley said about Carter’s ability to defend outside the lane. “But I think he did a really good job of understanding how he could guard some of these fours in the league.”

There’s more from Orlando:

  • The Magic have one more day to work out an extension with Bamba, but Robbins doesn’t expect it to happen. He notes that Bamba was slowed by an injury and then COVID-19 during his first two offseasons, and this summer was his first chance to really improve his conditioning. If Bamba turns in a strong season, he could be in demand as a restricted free agent in July.
  • Cole Anthony was productive in the preseason after a disappointing performance during Summer League, Robbins notes in a separate story. Anthony may have been dealing with an injury in Las Vegas as he said, “It’s a world’s difference just how much better I feel right now.” He will likely start the season as the back-up point guard, although that could change when Markelle Fultz returns after offseason knee surgery.
  • The Magic are in position to make a significant move before the trade deadline, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Orlando has a $17.1MM trade exception after sending Evan Fournier to the Celtics last season, along with $22.5MM in breathing room below the tax line.

Wendell Carter Jr. Signs Four-Year Extension With Magic

OCTOBER 16: Carter has signed the extension, according to a team press release (Twitter link).

“Even in his relatively short time in the league, Wendell has proven to be a true professional,” team president Jeff Weltman said. “We are very happy that he will continue to build on his promising career here in Orlando.”


OCTOBER 15: The Magic have agreed to a four-year, $50MM contract extension for center Wendell Carter Jr., Anthony Fields of Vanguard Sports Group tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Charania, the deal will be fully guaranteed.

Carter, 22, was selected by the Bulls with the seventh overall pick in the 2018 draft. Although he showed promise during his two-and-a-half years in Chicago, Carter battled injuries and didn’t substantially increase his rookie-year production in his second and third seasons.

The big man was dealt to Orlando at the 2021 trade deadline in the blockbuster deal that sent Nikola Vucevic in Chicago. He took over the Magic’s starting center job down the stretch and averaged 11.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 1.6 APG in 22 games (26.5 MPG).

It wasn’t clear this offseason whether the Magic were ready to commit long-term to Carter or if they wanted to see more from him in 2021/22. It seems the team has answered that question, taking the same route with Carter than it did a year ago with Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz, who both signed multiyear rookie scale extensions that kept them off the restricted free agent market in 2021.

Isaac got about $20MM more than Carter did on his own four-year extension. Fultz’s deal was also worth $50MM, but covers just three years. The closest recent comparable for Carter’s four-year, $50MM deal – which will go into effect in 2022/23 – is the extension that Robert Williams signed with the Celtics earlier this offseason. Williams will make $48MM over four years, with $6MM more available in incentives.

There are now 17 players still eligible for rookie scale extensions in advance of Monday’s deadline, as Carter joins Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Michael Porter Jr., and Williams in this year’s class.

Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Collin Sexton, and Jaren Jackson Jr. are among the remaining extension candidates worth watching in the coming days. Carter’s fellow Magic center, Mohamed Bamba, is also among those eligible for a rookie extension, but is considered extremely unlikely to sign one.

Southeast Notes: Avdija, Dinwiddie, Ball, Heat, Magic

Wizards forward Deni Avdija, who fractured his right ankle in April, participated in 5-on-5 scrimmages on Monday for the first time during his recovery process, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The team is hoping Avdija will be able to return to the court during the preseason, perhaps as soon as Saturday.

Meanwhile, another player coming off a major injury – Spencer Dinwiddie – is making a strong early impression with his new club. Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said on Tuesday that he has been “pleasantly surprised” with how Dinwiddie looks this fall, suggesting that the veteran point guard appears “he’s back to normal” following his partial ACL tear last December (Twitter link via Ava Wallace of The Washington Post).

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • LaMelo Ball looks fully healthy after dealing with a wrist injury at the end of last season, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer, who notes that the Hornets have inserted Miles Bridges into their starting lineup this season at least in part to take advantage of the chemistry between him and Ball.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic was surprised that the win-now Heat weren’t more willing to cross the luxury tax line this offseason, pointing out that they could’ve given free agent guard Kendrick Nunn the same deal he got from the Lakers and remained below the hard cap. As Hollinger outlines, Miami could avoid the tax this season and next, but project to be a taxpayer in 2023/24 if Tyler Herro is extended.
  • The Magic started rookies Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner alongside veterans Gary Harris, Terrence Ross, and Wendell Carter in their first preseason game on Monday, but head coach Jamahl Mosley said that won’t necessarily be the same group that opens the regular season as the team’s starting five. “The way I try to look at it in this instance was, because it’s an extension of training camp, I’m just going to try looking at different lineups,” Mosley said, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “So it was treating it similar to a practice: We’d have different lineups going against one another, different combinations.”

Southeast Notes: Dinwiddie, Carter Jr., Bamba, Heat, Lowry

Wizards guard Spencer Dinwiddie is hoping to validate the team’s decision to sign him by bouncing back with a strong campaign this season, Ava Wallace of the Washington Post writes.

Dinwiddie, 28, inked a three-year, $62MM deal with Washington, solidifying the team’s starting backcourt ahead of the 2021/22 season. He missed most of last year due to a partially torn ACL, but he averaged an impressive 20.6 points, 6.8 assists and 31.2 minutes per game in 2019/20.

“It’s about, like, proving the Wizards right more than anything,” Dinwiddie explained. “When somebody pays you, especially coming off an injury, even if you feel like you deserve it or are underpaid or whatever you want to call it because of the caliber of player that you feel like you are, the fact of the matter is you still haven’t played a minute post-ACL yet.

“And they’ve taken a pretty large, big bet, not just on you as a player but also on you as somebody that can co-lead a franchise and help facilitate the elephant in the room, which is hopefully keeping our cornerstone (Bradley Beal) in the building.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division today:

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.”

Southeast Notes: Smith, Lopez, Carter, Bamba

Point guard Ish Smith will be playing for his 12th NBA franchise this season but his stint with the Hornets will be special, Sam Perley of the team’s website notes. Smith grew up in Charlotte, NC.

“I wanted to be home, I’m not going to lie to you,” Smith said. “I’m sure everybody is going mention it in every game we play. Every year, it’s about how many teams you’ve been on. I’m like look, somebody likes me. … [Being here] is something that I’m excited about, it’s something my family’s excited about. So, yeah, it is something I wanted to do.”

Smith signed a two-year deal with the Hornets last month.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Robin Lopez, signed to add depth in the middle for the rebuilding Magic, compares himself to a bullpen specialist in baseball, Josh Cohen of the team’s website writes. “You know the relief pitcher, they’re always a little rotund,” Lopez said with a grin. “They’re not playing every night necessarily, but they are going in there making an impact when the team needs them.” Lopez signed a one-year, $5MM deal with Orlando.
  • The Magic will be evaluating their long-term plans at center over the next 12 months, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. The franchise is unlikely to make long-term commitments to both Wendell Carter Jr. and Mohamed Bamba. They are eligible for rookie scale extensions this offseason. If Carter isn’t signed to an extension, he will still have every opportunity to prove himself in the season ahead and perhaps show that his ceiling is higher than many scouts believe he can reach, Robbins adds.
  • ICYMI, a former Nets guard has agreed to a contract with the Hawks. Get the details here.

Southeast Notes: Bertans, Magic, Kreutzer, Murphy, Hawks

Having acquired Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma in a trade with the Lakers and used their first-round pick to draft Corey Kispert, the Wizards should have a few more outside shooting threats in 2021/22 than they did a year ago. However, that doesn’t mean Davis Bertans has become expendable, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

As Hughes outlines, the Wizards will still have several players in their rotation who won’t effectively stretch the floor, and there’s no guarantee Kispert will be a reliable contributor right away as a rookie. Throw in the fact that Washington ranked 28th in the NBA last season in three-pointers made, and it’s clear the team isn’t in position to get rid of any shooters — especially one like Bertans, whose contract would be hard to trade, and who made 39.5% of his three-point attempts even in a down year in 2020/21.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • If everyone on the Magic‘s roster is fully healthy to start the 2021/22 season, Josh Robbins of The Athletic thinks Gary Harris and Jonathan Isaac would be the only two players assured of a spot in the starting lineup. Robbins views Wendell Carter as the most likely starter at center, with Markelle Fultz and Jalen Suggs in the mix for the point guard spot. Both Fultz and Suggs could theoretically start if Orlando is comfortable with a three-guard lineup, Robbins notes.
  • The Magic are retaining Bruce Kreutzer and Dylan Murphy to be part of Jamahl Mosley‘s new coaching staff, reports Robbins (Twitter links). Both Kreutzer and Murphy served under Steve Clifford for the last three seasons in Orlando.
  • In a mailbag for The Athletic, Chris Kirschner addresses a handful of Hawks-related questions, including inquiries on whether Atlanta is a realistic suitor for Ben Simmons, what the team’s chances are of repeating its 2021 playoff success, and what the roles Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter will play going forward. Kirschner likes the idea of pursuing Simmons if the price is fair and he’s willing to play a position besides point guard.

Southeast Notes: Capela, Bogdanovic, Brooks, Carter Jr.

Hawks center Clint Capela ripped the Knicks for getting chippier ever since Atlanta asserted control in their first-round series, Andrew Lopez of ESPN relays. “I don’t know if they’re physical, but they are trying to play physical,” Capela said. “I feel like if they were really physical, I think we’d have more problems than what we have.”

Capela, who said the Hawks are coming to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday to “win this game again and send you on vacation,” also took a shot at the Knicks for being considered a team that plays hard every night. “We play hard because we’re playing the right way and we win games that way,” the Hawks’ big man said. “When you’re playing hard because that’s your last solution, I don’t take that as a ‘playing hard’ team.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Knicks have discovered how much more potent the Hawks are with Bogdan Bogdanovic in the lineup, Zach Braziller of the New York Post notes. Bogdanovic, who signed a four-year contract with Atlanta as a restricted free agent in the offseason, is averaging 15.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG and 3.5 APG in the first four games of the series. “What Bogey has done for us this season, we want to give him more (responsibility),” coach Nate McMillan said. “So I’ve been able to change the rotation, allow Bogey to really play with the basketball a little bit more.”
  • After the latest incident involving an unruly fan, Wizards coach Scott Brooks urged potential troublemakers to stay home, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. A fan ran onto the court in Game 4 between the Sixers and Wizards and was tackled by security. “There’s great fans in Boston and New York and Philly and D.C., Utah. But there’s some that just need to, you know what, stay home,” he said. “Your thinking is barbaric. Stay home. We don’t need you. We don’t need your dollars. Just stay home. Get away from us.” The fan will be banned from the arena and criminal charges are being pursued against him.
  • Wendell Carter Jr. brought a physical presence and energy to the Magic frontcourt after being acquired in the Nikola Vucevic trade with the Bulls, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel writes. He averaged 11.7 PPG and 8.8 RPG in 22 games with Orlando.

Heath Updates: Porzingis, Kleber, J. Brown, R. Williams, Hunter, Carter, Bradley

The Mavericks are in good shape to avoid a play-in game, but they may have to finish the regular season without big men Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Porzingis has already been declared out for today’s game against the Cavaliers, marking the sixth straight game he will miss and the ninth in the last 10 games. He suffered a sprained left ankle on March 22, then returned three games later and had to leave with soreness in his right knee. He tested the knee before Friday’s game, shooting for about 15 minutes.

Kleber has sat out the past three games with pain in his right Achilles. He is officially listed as questionable for today, but coach Rick Carlisle doesn’t expect him to play.

“Not having Kleber or Porzingis puts us in a more precarious situation,” Carlisle said. “But we’ve just got to figure it out. Five games left. Every game is super meaningful. We understand it. We’re just going to stay in the present, stick to the process and keep working.”

Here are some more injury-related updates:

  • Celtics forward Jaylen Brown will miss today’s showdown with the Heat because of a sprained right ankle, tweets Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. The team had hoped Brown could be ready, but he will sit out his third straight game. Robert Williams is considered probable for today with turf toe, but coach Brad Stevens said there will be a lot of game-time decisions for him for the rest of the season, Murphy adds (via Twitter).
  • Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter will be a game-time decision at best on Monday, according to Kevin Chouinard of NBA.com (Twitter link). Coach Nate McMillan indicated that a final decision will be made after today’s practice and Monday’s walkthrough. Hunter has missed the past 24 games and has only played twice since January 29.
  • Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. is dealing with blurry vision and slightly impaired depth perception, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. He will miss tonight’s game with a left eye abrasion (Twitter link).
  • Rockets coach Stephen Silas said there’s no timetable for a return by guard Avery Bradley, who is out for personal reasons, relays Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Reddish, Wizards, Bamba, Gafford

Hawks swingman Cam Reddish has recovered from his right Achilles soreness enough to incorporate on-court spot shooting and straight line running this week, per an official team press release.

The Hawks noted in the release that they will reevaluate Reddish’s progress in two weeks. The second-year wing out of Duke has appeared in 26 games for Atlanta this season, averaging 11.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 1.3 APG.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards will allow 2,100 fans (10% of crowd capacity) back into the Capital One Arena starting on April 21 when they host the Warriors, according to an official team press release. The Wizards will employ COVID-19 precautions as they let fans back onto their home floor for the first time this season, including “health screenings, mobile-only tickets, and seating pods.” There will be seven remaining regular season home games that will allow for fan attendance.
  • Magic center Mo Bamba, the No. 6 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, is firmly behind new addition Wendell Carter Jr., the No. 7 pick in the same draft, in Orlando’s rotation. Josh Robbins of The Athletic notes that Bamba’s rookie-scale contract expires after the 2021/22 season, and that for him to stake out a long-term future with the Magic, he will need to significantly improve his fitness.
  • As he works his way back from an ankle injury, new Wizards center Daniel Gafford may earn the starting nod for Washington by the end of the year, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “There are definitely possibilities of [him starting], but right now there are minutes restrictions,” head coach Scott Brooks indicated. Gafford is currently limited to about 16 minutes per night.