Wendell Carter

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.

Magic’s Banchero Out Another Week; Harris Could Make Debut Friday

Magic forward Paolo Banchero, the No. 1 overall pick of this year’s draft, will miss his fifth consecutive game Friday against Chicago with a sprained left ankle.

Banchero told Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscriber link) prior to Wednesday’s loss to Minnesota that he’s making progress in his recovery, but he’s still experiencing soreness and expects to miss at least another week to with the injury.

As Price writes, Banchero sustained the injury late in a November 7 loss to Houston. The former Duke big man has looked every bit the part of a No. 1 pick, averaging 23.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists through 11 games (34.6 minutes per night).

On a positive note, guard Gary Harris could make his 2022/23 season debut for the Magic on Friday, Price writes in another article for The Orlando Sentinel (subscription required). Harris has been sidelined since he tore his left meniscus in late August, which required surgery. He  has officially listed as probable against the Bulls.

The 28-year-old shooting guard signed a two-year, $26MM extension with Orlando at the end of June just before free agency opened. The second year is non-guaranteed.

After missing Wednesday’s contest with a right plantar fascia strain (Twitter link), forward/center Wendell Carter Jr. is also listed as probable vs. Chicago, Price notes (via Twitter). Head coach Jamahl Mosley said it’s something Carter has been dealing with for a while.

He’s been playing through it. I think it flared up a little bit more the other day. But he’s been playing through…that’s the thing about him. He’s going to try to fight through it as much as he can,” Mosley said, per Price (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Wright, Carter, Hampton, Bogdanovic, Clifford

With veteran guard Delon Wright sidelined indefinitely due to a strained right hamstring, the Wizards missed his perimeter defense in a 127-117 loss to the Pacers Friday night, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

Though the 6’5″ combo guard is averaging a modest 6.5 PPG, 3.3 APG and 2.5 RPG in his four games with Washington, he gives the team size as a reserve guard and wing toughness that it had lacked last season, Hughes opines.

“It’s tough,” shooting guard Bradley Beal said of life without Wright. “You could see it tonight because he’s a pest on defense, he gets us those deflections. He’s just everywhere. He’s a pest. He gets in on the bigs, he gets those reach-ins, a lot of those things. He gets into the ball. Really good defender.”

The 30-year-old out of Utah signed a two-year, $16MM deal with Washington during the offseason. He suffered a grade two hamstring strain, and is expected to be unavailable for six-to-eight weeks. Hughes thinks that Beal, Monte Morris, and Will Barton will need to step up on the defensive side of the ball in the absence of Wright, as will small forward Deni Avdija, who has emerged as a versatile defender thus far, capable of defending smaller backcourt players.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Magic starting center Wendell Carter Jr. has made a representation change. Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel tweets that the 6’10” big man has inked a new deal with LIFT Sports Management. Meanwhile, Price reports in a separate piece that Carter’s Orlando teammate R.J. Hampton is departing LIFT after the Magic opted not to exercise its team option on his fourth season.
  • Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic is gradually moving through his recovery process from a May knee surgery. Atlanta is excited about the progress Bogdanovic has managed to make through his rehabilitation thus far, writes Lauren Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’m back to the court activities, and I feel good, just a little out of basketball shape,” Bogdanovic told Williams. “You know, I need a rhythm back, you know, change of direction, explosive moves. But now I’m focusing on that.” Retired Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver, now the team’s director of player affairs and development, has made himself available to Bogdanovic so that the current Atlanta wing can tweak the mechanics of his shooting form post-surgery. “He helped me a lot, you know, especially through the challenging times, where I couldn’t, like, figure it out, how to make that transition, from use, to what I’m doing in the weightlifting room with the strength coaches, and everybody else, (physical therapy), how to translate it on the court,” Bogdanovic said.
  • Hornets head coach Steve Clifford can be credited at least in part with the club’s solid 3-3 start to the 2022/23 season, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. “I think Steve is one of the most underrated coaches in the league,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “His defensive schemes are really sharp. He always does some interesting things against us to make us think, to make us work for baskets. His teams tend to execute really well on the offensive side.” Clifford’s players appreciate the organization he is bringing to bear for the club during his second go-around running the show. “He communicates very well on what he wants from us, and if we don’t do that he holds us accountable,” Kelly Oubre said. “That’s everything in this league because obviously we have a young team, but at the end of the day we are trying to grow and learn and be the best in our profession.”

Southeast Notes: Beal, Porzingis, Rozier, Bridges, Herro, Magic

The Wizards‘ two stars remain on track to be available for the team’s regular season opener next week. Bradley Beal, who briefly entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, was cleared on Monday following a negative COVID-19 test and has since rejoined the club at practice, according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post and Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter links).

Meanwhile, Kristaps Porzingis sprained his left ankle during Monday’s preseason game vs. Charlotte, but that injury is considered very minor, Hughes writes for NBC Sports Washington.

“I already knew it was nothing major. I wanted to go back in in the second half,” Porzingis said. “But I just wanted to be smart, they told me to relax and get ready for the next one or for the regular season.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • The Hornets, who aren’t exactly loaded with point guard depth, are expected to shift Terry Rozier over from his shooting guard spot to take on additional ball-handling responsibilities while LaMelo Ball recovers from an ankle sprain, according to Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer. “Look, Terry was the starting point guard on a team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals,” head coach Steve Clifford said, referring to the 2018 Celtics. “So it’s a role that he’s comfortable with. And if that ends up being the situation, that’s how we’d do it.”
  • The preliminary court hearing for Hornets forward Miles Bridges has been delayed yet again, according to Baxter Holmes of ESPN, who tweets that the new date is October 17. That hearing for Bridges, who has pleaded not guilty to three felony domestic violence charges, was initially scheduled for August 19.
  • Trading Tyler Herro after signing him to a rookie scale extension would have been tricky due to the poison pill provision. However, that didn’t stop the Heat from making their initial extension offer to the fourth-year guard on July 1, even as they remained involved in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. According to Herro, that original offer was worth $100MM over four years. He eventually accepted once the Heat upped their offer to a guaranteed $120MM. “Thirty million a year is what I thought I was worth,” Herro said.
  • Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel takes a look at how the Magic intend to compensate for the play-making they’ll be missing with guards Markelle Fultz (toe) and Jalen Suggs (knee) sidelined to start the season. “We talk about this often — sometimes injuries provide opportunities for others,” head coach Jamahl Mosley said. “With that being said, Franz (Wagner) will have an opportunity to handle the ball more, Paolo (Banchero) will handle the ball more. We play maybe a little bit more — as you saw last year — through Wendell (Carter). Those are going to be the opportunities to happen as we move forward.”

Southeast Notes: Unseld Jr., Capela, Wright, Hunter, Carter

Following a rough start to his new career as a head coach, the Wizards Wes Unseld Jr. said the team needs to establish a defensive identity in his second season, he told Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

“We said we were going to be a defense-first team. We’re not there yet,” Unseld said. “That’s a big piece of our identity. To value and share the ball, I think, is another big piece. We’re starting to see that. I think it’s good carryover into the summer, and then we’ve got a lot of things we have to accomplish. We’ve got to spend a lot of time with our guys and put a lot of work in.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Center Clint Capela felt soreness in his knee as the Hawks were eliminated by the Heat on Wednesday, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic tweets. Capela, who didn’t return in the fourth quarter, said he won’t require offseason surgery on the aching joint.
  • Veteran guard Delon Wright said he’d like to stay with Hawks but was noncommittal regarding free agency this summer, Kirchner tweets. Forward De’Andre Hunter echoed similar sentiments regarding a potential extension, Kirschner relays in another tweet“I don’t necessarily have a number I’m looking for, but we’ll see,” Hunter said.
  • Can Wendell Carter establish himself as one of the league’s top 10 centers? That could be the next step for the Magic big man, according to Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel.

Magic Notes: Carter Jr., Cannady, Suggs, F. Wagner, Offseason

Big man Wendell Carter Jr. is having the best season of his young career with the Magic, according to Mark Schindler of BasketballNews.com, who takes an in-depth look at Carter’s breakout season and interviewed him for the article. Carter is averaging career-highs of 15.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists this season in 62 games (29.9 minutes per night). He boasts a shooting line of .525/.327/.691, including a career-best 61.5% on two-pointers.

Carter said the team’s coaching staff has empowered and challenged him to improve his game.

They’ve kind of instilled in me like, ‘Man, you’re a great player. We’ve seen plenty of flashes. We know what Wendell can really be. Can we see you do this for a whole 48-minute game? Can we see you play like those little spurts we’ll see every now and then? Can you do that more often?’

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • Devin Cannady, who signed a 10-day contract last week, is grateful for his second chance with Orlando, per Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Cannady had a 10-day and then a two-way contract with Orlando last season and appeared in eight games, but his season came to an early end in April of 2021 when he suffered a significant ankle injury and underwent surgery. “I remember what it felt like laying on that floor less than a year ago. A lot of thoughts went through my mind. I remember praying on the floor that day. A lot of late nights, early mornings, frustrations, excitements and just to be back here is a testament to the work I put in. Whether I made it back here or not, I was going to be fine, but this is where I believe I belong,” Cannady said.
  • Rookies Jalen Suggs (right ankle bone bruise) and Franz Wagner (left ankle sprain) returned for Tuesday’s win over Cleveland after absences of 10 games and one game, respectively. However, Wagner suffered a right ankle sprain in the game and didn’t return (Twitter links).
  • Bobby Marks explores the team’s options for the offseason in his guide for ESPN (Insider link). Much of Orlando’s financial flexibility is tied to Mohamed Bamba, who would be a restricted free agent this summer if the team tenders him a qualifying offer of $10.1MM.

Southeast Notes: Butler, Hachimura, Heat, Carter Jr.

Heat star Jimmy Butler is honored to represent his team in the 2022 NBA All-Star Game, as Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. While co-star Bam Adebayo likely would’ve made the All-Star team if he stayed healthy, Butler is the lone representative this season for a Miami team tied for the Eastern Conference’s top spot.

“It’s an incredible blessing to be able to be on the court with all of these superstars and crazy talented players,” he said. “I think you’re just thankful that you get the opportunity to play basketball again because it’s not promised to anybody.

“[This weekend] is a lot, but I don’t complain about it. I think it’s an honor to be able to be an All-Star and go out there and compete with these guys.

This is Butler’s sixth All-Star season and second in Miami. He’s currently averaging 21.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game, shooting 48% from the floor and 90% from the charity stripe.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura scored 14 fourth-quarter points to defeat the Nets on Thursday, reminding the team of his upside, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. Hachimura finished with 20 points in 27 minutes off the bench, shooting 8-of-15 from the floor. “Rui, he’s just got the joy back… I can see that smile again, I can see that laugh, I can see that joy,” teammate Ish Smith said. “Rui’s a special player. He’s been a special player the first two years I was here with him and now you guys are seeing him just continue to grow and get better.”
  • The Heat‘s coaching staff are making the most of their All-Star opportunity, Anthony Chiang writes in a separate article for the Miami Herald. Head coach Erik Spoelstra and his assistants will coach Team Durant in the All-Star Game, something that’ll surely be a unique experience for all involved.
  • Stephen Noh of Sporting News examines the new and improved Wendell Carter Jr. Carter, who signed a four-year rookie scale extension prior to the season, is in the midst of a career year with the Magic, averaging 14.0 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in 29.4 minutes per contest. He’s in his second season with Orlando.