Wendell Carter

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.

Southeast Notes: Carter Jr., Westbrook, Oladipo, Magic Draft Picks

The Magic like what they’ve seen thus far from Wendell Carter Jr., one of the pieces acquired in the Nikola Vucevic trade with the Bulls, Josh Cohen of the team’s website writes. The retooled Magic are a surprising 2-1 on their current West Coast swing with Carter averaging 13.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.7 APG and 1.3 BPG in 23.0 MPG.

“He’s smart. He’s got good instincts,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “He can really move his feet. His lateral quickness I would say is exceptional. His instincts (are good) of when to attack the ball, when to drop, get back to his man and obviously he’s got a basket protection component. It’s three games but I couldn’t be more pleased with what he’s doing already.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Russell Westbrook has posted some big numbers with the Wizards but he admits he’s been too turnover-prone, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. Westbrook committed nine turnovers in a lopsided loss to Detroit on Thursday. “This one is on my hands and my shoulders,” said Westbrook, who is averaging 5.1 giveaways per game. “I’ve got to do a better job leading us into nights like this, regardless of who’s playing. I’m responsible for our energy and our effort and I take the blame on this one.”
  • The Heat are excited to add another play-maker in Victor Oladipo, who was acquired from Houston last week, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press writes. “He’s a veteran guy, he’s played in good programs on good teams, so he knows how to fit in,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think defensively, it’s extremely natural, the fit. And offensively, he gives us that downhill attack, another guy that can make plays, another guy that can put pressure on opposing defenses in the paint.” Oladipo, who will be a free agent after the season, had six points and five assists in 23 minutes while making his Heat debut on Thursday.
  • The Magic received a total of three first-round picks from Chicago and Denver in the Vucevic and Aaron Gordon deals. Josh Robbins of The Athletic breaks down the protections on each of those picks, including the Bulls’ 2021 first-rounder, which will be conveyed to Orlando this year unless it’s in the top four.

Southeast Notes: Westbrook, Magic, Oladipo, Okeke/Carter

Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook supplied a lengthy response to ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith, who claimed (video link) that Westbrook still needed a championship to cement his legacy. “You’ve played with some great great players over the years. Talent. And not a single title to show for it,” Smith said. “The numbers are the numbers… It ain’t about that no more.”

Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets Westbrook’s full statement. “I’m happy,” Westbrook said in part. “I was a champion once I made it to the NBA. I grew up in the streets. I’m a champion. I don’t have to be an NBA champion… My legacy is what I do off the floor, how many people I’m able to impact and inspire along my journey, man.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Now that the Magic have fully committed to rebuilding their club through their young players and future draft assets, Josh Robbins and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic have opted to assess Orlando’s expected plans for the 2021 draft and beyond, as well as tantalizing new players R.J. Hampton and Wendell Carter Jr. Vecenie and Robbins both feel that Orlando should have perhaps pivoted to a full-tilt rebuild sooner than it did, and agree that the top-heavy 2021 draft should have several intriguing prospects for the Magic.
  • New Heat shooting guard Victor Oladipo is set to debut for Miami on Thursday opposite the Warriors, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel“We’ve had several Zoom sessions,” head coach Erik Spoelstra noted, “just to review and try to fast track our system. But he’s a savvy, high-IQ veteran player.”
  • Magic rookie forward Chuma Okeke and new center/power forward Wendell Carter Jr. are doing their best to capitalize on rotational opportunities with Orlando, writes Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. Both players flashed some of their promise down the stretch of a surprise 103-96 win over the Clippers Tuesday.

Jeff Weltman Discusses Magic’s Deadline-Day Trades

Speaking today to reporters following an eventful trade deadline, Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said that he believed the team could be a top-four seed in the East entering the season.

That may sound bullish, but considering the 22-21 Hornets currently rank fourth in the conference, it certainly wouldn’t have been out of the question. However, after a 6-2 start, injuries decimated Orlando’s roster, ultimately forcing a change of direction (Twitter link via Keith Smith of RealGM).

As Weltman explained today, the Magic still considered trying to make win-now moves to improve this year’s roster, but when they realized that there would be more buyers than sellers, that helped guide their direction (Twitter links via Smith). The club also had to come to terms with the fact that it didn’t have a championship-level roster and had no clear path to get there with the existing core, Smith tweets.

Orlando ended up moving Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, and Aaron Gordon in three separate deals on Thursday. Without those veterans on the roster, the 15-29 Magic, who already have the fourth-worst record in the NBA, are in position to nab a high pick in the 2021 NBA draft, which Weltman acknowledged.

You win with stars in this league. We’re in position to add talent through the draft” he said, per Smith (Twitter link). “We’re not focusing on that too much because it’s not something we have full control over. But we’re in a good position for this year’s draft.”

Here’s more from Weltman on the Magic:

  • According to Weltman, the Nuggets were initially hesitant to include R.J. Hampton in their offer for Gordon, but those talks gained traction once Denver relented (Twitter link via Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel). I can’t tell you how excited we are about him,” Weltman said, adding that he believes Hampton can play alongside Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony (Twitter link via Smith).
  • Asked if he felt the Magic got a strong enough return for Vucevic, Weltman replied, “Obviously we thought we got enough, because we did the deal.” He also pointed out that the Magic were on the receiving end of the only three first-round picks that changed hands on Thursday, and said the team has received “glowing reports” on Wendell Carter (Twitter links via Smith).
  • Although the Magic valued Fournier’s Bird rights, they felt as if it didn’t make sense to trade Vucevic and Gordon while hanging onto Fournier, and decided to take the best offer available, per Weltman (Twitter link via Smith).

Magic Trade Nikola Vucevic To Bulls

4:37pm: The trade sending Vucevic to Chicago is official, according to a press release from the Magic.

“Anytime you trade a player like Nikola, it is a tough decision to make,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said in a statement. “‘Vooch’ will go down as one of the best players to ever wear a Magic uniform and we can’t thank him enough for all the contributions he made to the organization, both on and off the court.”


10:05am: The Magic are trading All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and veteran forward Al-Farouq Aminu to the Bulls, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (all Twitter links).

According to Wojnarowski, Orlando will receive Wendell Carter, Otto Porter, and a pair of future first-round picks in the deal. Those picks will be the Bulls’ own 2021 and 2023 first-rounders, Woj adds (via Twitter). Both will be top-four protected, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter links).

The agreement comes as a major surprise. While Vucevic has been mentioned in some trade rumors in the weeks leading up to the deadline, he had talked about being happy with his current situation, and there was a belief that the Magic were reluctant to move their lone All-Star and shift into full-fledged retooling mode. Wojnarowski (Twitter link) had reported earlier today that Orlando was still listening to offers for the big man, but would have to receive a substantial package to pull the trigger on a deal.

The Magic apparently believe the Bulls’ offer qualifies as substantial. In addition to the future first-round picks, which are the prized assets in the return, Orlando will also receive a former lottery pick in Carter who was highly regarded coming out of Duke and is still just 21 years old. Carter has been plagued by injury issues through his first three NBA seasons and his production hasn’t really increased since his rookie year, but he’s still viewed as a player with upside.

Orlando will also gain some longer-term salary relief in the trade. While Porter is earning more ($28.5MM) this season than any of the other three players involved in the swap, his contract will expire this summer. Vucevic is owed and Aminu are owed a combined $34MM+ next season, and Vucevic is under contract for one more year beyond that, so the Magic will have much more cap flexibility going forward.

The move also signals that Aaron Gordon is even more likely to be dealt today, with the Magic headed for a reset. The odds of the team moving Evan Fournier and/or Terrence Ross figure to increase as well. As Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets, Orlando will boost the odds of landing a top pick in the 2021 draft by trading away veterans — that lottery pick, combined with the return of Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz next season, could help accelerate the team’s rebuild.

The Bulls, meanwhile, weren’t among the teams listed as having significant interest in Vucevic in a report earlier this month, but decided to take a big swing and will add a second All-Star to a core headlined by Zach LaVine.

The team’s front office wanted to bring in a “productive, serious-minded veteran” to be a cornerstone in Chicago, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), and zeroed in on Vucevic, who has posted a career-high 24.5 PPG this season to go along with 11.8 RPG and 3.8 APG. His .406 3PT% is also a career-best mark.

Taking on Aminu’s multiyear contract will add some money to the Bulls’ cap in 2021, but the club was projected to have plenty of flexibility, so that shouldn’t be an issue. Vucevic’s contract is also relatively team-friendly — he’s making $26MM this season, but that number will decline to $24MM in 2021/22 and $22MM in ’22/23.

It will be interesting to see whether the Bulls have more up their sleeve before today’s deadline. The team has been taking calls to gauge Thaddeus Young‘s value, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link), and remains in the mix for Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

It will take more than just Lauri Markkanen to acquire Ball, tweets Johnson. New Orleans may want Chicago to take on an unwanted multiyear contract, such as Eric Bledsoe‘s.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Central Rumors: Turner, Pistons, Plumlee, Diallo, Bulls

The Knicks, Lakers, Clippers, Hornets, and Pelicans are among the teams to explore whether the Pacers are willing to trade big man Myles Turner, league sources tell J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

The Pacers were willing to discuss Turner in trade talks during the 2020 offseason and have lost 17 of their last 26 games after an 8-4 start this season, so it’s no surprise that teams are inquiring on the NBA’s leading shot-blocker.

However, Michael says that if Indiana does look to make a move at the trade deadline, it’s unlikely to involve Turner, who has developed into a crucial part of the team’s success. The Pacers have been better both offensively and defensively when he’s on the court.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Within his look at some hypothetical trades for the Pistons, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic reports that the team is seriously discussing trades involving Delon Wright, Wayne Ellington, and Mason Plumlee, adding that there have been some “whispers” about the Nets potentially being interested in Plumlee.
  • Hamidou Diallo‘s Pistons debut will be delayed a little longer due to his groin strain, head coach Dwane Casey said on Monday (Twitter link via Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press). Diallo missed his last several games with Oklahoma City as a result of the injury, which he suffered on February 24.
  • The Bulls‘ new-look rotation got off to a good start on Sunday, as the team comfortably defeated Toronto with Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young replacing Coby White and Wendell Carter in the starting lineup. Head coach Billy Donovan cautioned after the game that the new starting five isn’t “set in stone” (Twitter link via Eric Woodyard of ESPN). However, the affected players sounded fully on board with the changes, with Carter stating that he would’ve benched himself too, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes.
  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic explores what the lineup changes might say about the Bulls‘ approach to the trade deadline, suggesting that the team seems unlikely to be a seller.

Central Notes: Bulls Starters, Healthy Cavs, Diallo, Weaver

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan is rumored to be making significant changes to the club’s starting lineup, a source informs Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Veteran Tomáš Satoranský could replace second-year point guard Coby White, and veteran forward Thaddeus Young could be moved in to start ahead of third-year center Wendell Carter Jr. as soon as tonight, in time for the team’s game against the Raptors.

Slow starts have impeded the Bulls lately, losers of four of their last five contests. Mayberry notes that Chicago’s traditional starters have been struggling. The team’s starting five of White, Carter, All-Star Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, and Lauri Markkanen is averaging a lackluster minus-17.6 net rating. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago details what the changes – should they transpire – mean for the Bulls.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The 14-23 Cavaliers have not had been able to field a fully healthy roster for most of the season, but with Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. back in the lineup, the team has some rotation decisions to make, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes. “I don’t know the last time we had a full, available roster,” Cleveland head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Been frustrating for us as coaches because it’s been different positions as we’ve moved through it.” Before they returned Friday, Love had been unavailable for 33 games, while Nance had missed the preceding 12.
  • Athletic Pistons swingman Hamidou Diallo, arriving fresh from the Thunder after a deal yesterday, will serve as an exciting addition to Detroit, thanks in large part to his exceptional defensive upside, writes Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press.
  • Pistons general manager Troy Weaver may not be done reshaping Detroit’s roster, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. After adding Diallo this weekend and waiving Blake Griffin earlier this month, it’s become clear that Weaver is prioritizing a younger, more athletic future.

Central Notes: Diallo, Markkanen, Carter, LeVert

Pistons coach Dwane Casey is thrilled with the trade that brought Hamidou Diallo from the Thunder, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Even though Detroit gave up a shooter by parting with Svi Mykhailiuk, the team believes the move will pay off with an upgrade on defense.

“He’s a wing defender – can guard one through three, the smaller fours,” Casey said of Diallo. “Excellent wing runner. He’s quick, athletic – probably one of the most athletic wings in the league. Needs to continue to work on his 3-point shooting, which is what our league is about. But he’ll definitely step right in as one of our top defenders. He has a wingspan that’s out of this world, anticipates well and competes.”

The Pistons aren’t sure when Diallo will be cleared to play, Langlois adds. He missed the last four games with OKC because of groin soreness and may require a quarantine period before being permitted to join his new teammates.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Although they’ve lost two straight games since the All-Star break, the Bulls have to be encouraged by the strong return of Lauri Markkanen, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. After missing 13 games with a strained right shoulder, Markkanen scored a team-high 23 points Thursday against the Sixers and followed that with 20 points Friday against the Heat. “I felt all right,” Markkanen said after his first game back. “Physically, obviously there’s still just getting my wind back and my legs back into game shape. I had a couple practices, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I felt all right. Still got a ways to go, but not too bad.”
  • Bulls center Wendell Carter admitted Friday that he needs to play better, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Carter is averaging just 5.8 PPG in that span and shooting 32.3% from the floor. “I feel like I’ve regressed in that area of being more aggressive on the offensive end,” he said. “Just trying to play the right way, do everything that everybody is telling me to do. But at the same time, I understand that me being aggressive will be better for my team. So I just got to play a lot better on the offensive end.”
  • Pacers guard Caris LeVert isn’t on a minutes restriction tonight in his first game since having surgery for renal cell carcinoma in January, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files.