Magic Rumors

Magic, Pistons Interested In Markelle Fultz

The Magic and Pistons have expressed interest in trading for Sixers guard Markelle Fultz, who remains away from the team dealing with neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome, according to Dave Early of SB Nation’s Liberty Ballers.

Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press also relayed Detroit’s interest in trading for Fultz, speculating that a future first-round pick and salary filler likely wouldn’t get a deal done. Jose Calderon, Glenn Robinson III and Zaza Pachulia all become trade-eligible for the Pistons on Saturday.

The Magic have long been targeting a point guard and could offer Terrence Ross in a potential package. Ross will become a free agent on July 1, which would allow the 76ers to re-sign him on a separate deal or create cap space for a star talent. Orlando has a talented young core of Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba, with the team starting 11-year veteran D.J. Augustin in its first 27 games of the season.

The Suns have also monitored Fultz’ situation, although their interest has since cooled, according to the Liberty Ballers report. Phoenix prefers to find an established backcourt player in trade discussions to play alongside Devin Booker

Fultz would welcome a fresh start on a new team, The Athletic reported last month. He’s played in 33 games across two seasons since being drafted No. 1 overall by the Sixers in 2017, holding per-game averages of 7.7 points and 3.4 assists while shooting 41% from the field.

Bamba Held Out On Monday For Violating Team Rules

  • Mohamed Bamba sat out the Magic‘s most recent game on Monday after violating team rules, head coach Steve Clifford said, per “It’s just bad on my part, and I need to be better. I’ve got to be on time,” Bamba said. He’s expected to return to Orlando’s lineup on Thursday night against Chicago.

Lakers Eyeing Wayne Ellington, Terrence Ross

Trevor Ariza isn’t the only veteran trade candidate the Lakers have looked into acquiring, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. As Deveney details, the Lakers have also been eyeing players like Wayne Ellington and Terrence Ross as they look to shore up their depth on the wing.

Rival executives tell Deveney that the Lakers have been among the “most aggressive pursuers” of trades in the early going this season. While the front office doesn’t want to give up its top young prospects for a short-term fix and likely won’t make a deal that compromises the team’s 2019 cap flexibility, the Lakers want to fortify their rotation in order to give this year’s club a chance to make a deep playoff run, writes Deveney.

Ellington, who signed a one-year, $6.27MM deal with the Heat during the 2018 offseason, has the power to veto any trade, but might welcome a move to a contender if Miami continues to struggle. Sources tell Deveney that the Heat would be open to sending the veteran sharpshooter to a playoff team for a first-round pick — that’s a lot to ask for a role player on an expiring contract, but if the pick has protections and Miami takes back an unwanted contract, it may not be unrealistic.

Meanwhile, although Deveney identifies Ross as another potential target, he concedes that the 27-year-old Magic swingman may have too much value to be a realistic option for the Lakers, given what Los Angeles is willing to surrender in a potential trade. Ross, who is also in a contract year, is enjoying the best season of his career, with career highs so far in PPG (14.1) and FG% (.453), among other categories.

There has also been chatter that the Lakers may pursue another big man, per Deveney, though he acknowledges that’s unlikely. There aren’t as many viable frontcourt targets on the trade market, and after signing Tyson Chandler earlier this season, L.A. probably has a stronger need for wing depth.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/6/18

Here are Thursday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Eastern Notes: Bledsoe, Cavaliers, Ross

The Knicks are expected to target superstar free agents this summer with Kevin Durant atop their wish list. Yet, they could be looking at the second tier of free agents if they miss out on one of the top stars and, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the team’s front office likes Eric Bledsoe‘s game.

The 28-year-old point guard is enjoying a career year for the Bucks and he would fill a major void for the Knicks should he sign with them in the offseason. New York has lacked stability at the position over the last few years.

Emmanuel Mudiay has shown flashes of potential this season, averaging 14.1 points per contest since becoming the starter 11 games ago. Still, the 22-year-old has flashed potential before, leading him to become the No. 7 overall pick in 2015, and it’s likely New York will at least consider upgrades once the season ends.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference.

  • The Cavaliers aren’t interested in trading Kevin Love unless they are blown away by an offer, Chris Fedor of writes. The franchise wants Love around for the long-haul when Collin Sexton is more seasoned and the team adds other young prospects.
  • Cedi Osman is still viewed as part of the Cavaliers‘ future, Fedor relays in the same piece. Osman has started 20 games for Cleveland this year and is averaging 11.2 points per game. However, he is shooting just 36.6% from the field.
  • Terrence Ross, who will be a free agent after the season, has evolved into a consistent threat for the Magic, John Denton of details. Steady production has always been the shooting guard’s weakness, though this season, he’s been able to contribute on a nightly basis.

Clifford Gets More Sleep, Improves Health

  • Prior health scares related to a lack of sleep has caused lifestyle changes for Magic coach Steve Clifford, as Shaun Powell of details. Clifford now gets a normal amount of sleep and he feels he can now more effectively perform his job. “I feel great, I feel like I have a lot more energy,” he told Powell. “Getting seven hours every night, I find that very relaxing. I’ve developed other interests.”

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Southeast Division

Over the course of the 2018/19 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Southeast could be one of the NBA’s most active divisions leading up to this season’s trade deadline. It features a pair of underachieving teams (the Heat and Wizards) who could badly use a trade to shake things up, along with at least one lottery-bound club that looks like an obvious seller (the Hawks). It’s too early to tell which direction the Hornets and Magic will go, but they’re candidates to be active too.

Here’s our latest look at a few possible trade candidates from the Southeast…

Otto Porter Jr., F
Washington Wizards
$26.01MM cap hit; $27.25MM guaranteed salary in 2019/20; $28.49MM player option for 2020/21

As I wrote earlier today when I relayed news of the Kings’ renewed interest in Porter, the young forward looks like the best trade candidate of the Wizards‘ three highly-paid cornerstones. His contract isn’t as scary as John Wall‘s, which will make him easier to move. Conversely, he’s not as valuable an asset as Bradley Beal, meaning Washington won’t be as averse to giving him up.

Although Porter’s contract will make him a somewhat tricky sell, he fits the mold of the three-and-D wing that so many teams around the NBA are seeking. He’ll draw interest, especially from teams that have a little cap flexibility but don’t necessarily expect to be major players in free agency — like the Kings, whose expiring contracts and cap space make them an interesting potential trade partner for Washington.

The Pelicans are also said to have interest in Porter. If they’re willing to include a first-round pick and a mid-sized expiring contract, it might be worth it for the Wizards to take on Solomon Hill‘s contract.

Dewayne Dedmon, C
Atlanta Hawks
$7.2MM cap hit; UFA in 2019

A popular subject of trade speculation last season, Dedmon stayed put at the deadline and ultimately ended up exercising his player option to remain in Atlanta for another year. There are reasons to believe that he’s more likely to be traded this time around.

For one, potential suitors may have been put off by his uncertain contract situation last year. This time, his status is clear — he’ll be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, so teams won’t have to worry about accounting for him on next year’s books.

Additionally, the Hawks may have some regrets about how they approached last season’s trade deadline, when they kept Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, then bought them out after the deadline passed. Both players ended up with the Sixers, serving as important rotation pieces into the second round of the playoffs. This season, Atlanta may be less inclined to let solid contributors get away for nothing.

While Dedmon doesn’t necessarily have one specific skill that could be a difference-maker for a playoff team like Belinelli’s and Ilyasova’s floor-spacing abilities were, he’s a solid big man who has some previous postseason experience under his belt, and he shouldn’t be overly expensive.

Nikola Vucevic, C
Orlando Magic
$12.75MM cap hit; UFA in 2019

It has been a fascinating season for Vucevic and the Magic so far. Despite a modest 10-12 record, Orlando currently holds the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, and Vucevic has played a huge part in the club’s early success, recording career highs in PPG (20.8), FG% (.553), 3PT% (.410), and APG (3.9), among other categories.

The 28-year-old is performing like the type of player the Magic should be trying to re-sign and build around, rather than one they should be looking to dump before he reaches free agency — especially if they remain in the playoff mix. So far, there are no indications that Orlando is interested in trading Vucevic.

Still, this is a complicated situation. The Magic drafted Mohamed Bamba earlier this year to be their center of the future, and with Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac in the frontcourt mix too, it looked like Vucevic might not be in the team’s long-term plans.

Could the Magic realistically lock up Vucevic long-term without compromising the development of their younger players? If they commit to the veteran, would the Magic need to trade one of those other young bigs? Would they be willing to keep Vucevic for the full season and risk simply losing him in unrestricted free agency next summer without any compensation? The answers to those questions will determine whether or not Vucevic becomes available before this season’s trade deadline.


Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nikola Vucevic's Stellar Play Could Put Magic In Tough Position Next Summer

Magic Have Shown Interest In Frank Ntilikina

The Magic have shown some interest in Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina, a league source tells Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. According to Vorkunov, Orlando had a scout in Philadelphia on Wednesday night watching Ntilikina.

There’s no indication that the Knicks are looking to move their second-year guard, who is less than 18 months removed from being selected eighth overall in the 2017 draft. In fact, a week before the 2018/19 season began, Ian Begley of tweeted that that several teams had inquired on Ntilikina over the last year and New York hadn’t shown any interest in trading him.

Still, teams’ valuations of players can change fairly quickly, and Ntilikina hasn’t taken a major step forward in his second season — most of his numbers so far are the same as last year’s, or worse, and he has seen his role cut back lately, having not played more than 15 minutes in a game since last Wednesday.

With Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke eligible for free agency at season’s end, the Knicks are using this season to determine how those players and others might fit into their long-term future. With those evaluations ongoing, I wouldn’t expect the team to consider dealing Ntilikina anytime soon, but it’s a situation worth monitoring in case anything changes.

As for the Magic, they’ve exceeded expectations in the early part of this season and currently hold a top-eight spot in the East, despite a modest 10-12 record. Point guard is a glaring hole for the club, so Ntilikina is the sort of player who could help in the short term with his defense and who could also be a potential building block for the future.

Southeast Notes: Vucevic, Simmons, Wizards, Wade

The hiring of Steve Clifford in Orlando has improved the game of Magic big man Nikola Vucevic to a new level, writes Kurt Helin of NBC Sports. Vucevic, who recently averaged a cool 30.5 PPG in back-to-back road games against the Lakers and Warriors, is playing so well  that at least one advanced statistical metric has him ranked ahead of Kevin Durant and James Harden.

As Helin notes, Vucevic is giving credit to Clifford for putting him in better situations this season, which has sparked his improved numbers. Specifically, Vucevic took 56 percent of his shots last season within eight feet of the rim, whereas this season that number is up to 65 percent. Meanwhile, the shots the 28-year-old center is taking from beyond the arc of lesser in number, but higher in efficiency. His three-point percentage has jumped from 31.4 percent a year ago to 39 percent this season.

“The way we play now, it helps me playing inside-out, it gets me going and makes me more comfortable,” Vucevic said. “Last year I felt I was a little too much on the perimeter, space the floor, which is fine, but at the same time [this season’s style] makes it much more difficult for the other team and gives them a different look. It works great for me because I get some easy ones in the paint and am able to step out… The way coach wants me, wants us, to play fits my skill set.”

Vucevic will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and if his numbers continue at the pace he’s set for himself so far this season, he’s likely to be looking at some lucrative contract offers this summer.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • In other Magic news, swingman Jonathon Simmons was inserted into the starting lineup recently after making a positive impression on Clifford during Sunday’s game against the Lakers, writes John Denton of As is often the case, Simmons, 29, impressed his coach with his energy and defense after struggling to find his shot early on this season as a result of offseason surgery on his shooting wrist.
  • The Wizards seem to play best when turmoil strikes, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. In the past couple of weeks, negative stories and/or rumors have emerged regarding John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Dwight Howard. Yet, the Wizards are now winners of three of their last four games and playing their best basketball of the season.
  • Heat great Dwyane Wade isn’t choosing to retire after this season because he feels he can’t physically play anymore. Rather, he simply believes that he’s given everything he can to the game of basketball and wants to give something else a shot, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.