- Magic officials and players have said that Markelle Fultz has remained upbeat as he begins the long process of coming back from a torn ACL, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “I think he’s got a great attitude about the whole thing,” head coach Steve Clifford said. “Let’s put it this way: He’s handling his injury a lot better than his coach is.”
Magic center Mohamed Bamba stayed in Orlando rather than traveling to Boston for the Magic’s Friday tilt against the Celtics due to the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, according to Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link).
Robbins notes that Bamba’s absence is a result of “non-team contact tracing,” though Bamba himself has not tested positive for COVID-19.
Bamba’s absence may not have much of an on-court impact for the Magic. The 22-year-old reserve big man out of Texas is averaging 5.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 0.5 APG and 0.5 BPG across a career-low 8.3 MPG in four games for the Magic this season.
Bamba previously contracted the coronavirus in June and struggled to recover through the beginning of the NBA’s Orlando-based summer restart to the 2019/20 season. At the time, he dealt with significant symptoms, including fatigue, muscle soreness, and a temporary loss of his senses of taste and smell.
A third consecutive Celtics game will be postponed, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Wednesday’s contest between the C’s and the Magic won’t be played as scheduled.
The NBA issued a press release confirming the postponement, noting within its announcement that Boston doesn’t have the league-required minimum of eight players available.
As Tim Bontemps of ESPN observes (via Twitter), the Celtics’ most recent injury report, released on Sunday, included seven players (Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Grant Williams, Tristan Thompson, Robert Williams, Javonte Green, and Semi Ojeleye) out due to health and safety protocols and two more (Kemba Walker and Romeo Langford) sidelined due to injuries. That would leave eight players available, so it seems likely that at least one more player has been ruled out since then.
The Celtics and Magic had been scheduled to play a pair of games in Boston this week. The second of those two contests, set to be played on Friday, remains up in the air for the time being. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the Magic won’t be traveling to Boston today. However, they could do so later in the week.
The NBA G League held its draft for the 2020/21 season on Monday afternoon.
In a typical year, the G League draft lasts four rounds and teams are only required to make two selections. However, this year’s draft was just three rounds and teams weren’t required to make any picks.
Because only 17 of 28 NBA G League affiliates (plus the G League Ignite) are participating in the revamped season at Walt Disney World in Florida, and because teams aren’t permitted to bring extra players to training camp for health and safety reasons, roster spots will be at a premium in the NBAGL this season, and the draft reflected that. Only 25 players were selected.
With the first overall pick, the Greensboro Swarm – the Hornets‘ affiliate – nabbed former Wizard Admiral Schofield. The 42nd overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, Schofield averaged 3.0 PPG and 1.4 RPG in 33 games (11.2 MPG) as a rookie before being traded to the Thunder during the offseason. Oklahoma City waived him last month.
With the second overall pick, which they acquired in a trade earlier in the day, the Memphis Hustle selected former Baylor standout Freddie Gillespie, who had been in camp with the Mavericks. Gillespie recently spoke to JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors about his desire to make it to the NBA and his plans to begin his professional career in the G League. He’s now in position to suit up for the Grizzlies‘ affiliate.
Here are the full 2020/21 G League draft results:
- Greensboro Swarm (Hornets): Admiral Schofield (Tennessee)
- Memphis Hustle (Grizzlies): Freddie Gillespie (Baylor)
- Canton Charge (Cavaliers): Antonio Blakeney (LSU)
- Iowa Wolves (Timberwolves): Allonzo Trier (Arizona)
- Lakeland Magic (Magic): Tahjere McCall (Tennessee State)
- Canton Charge: Anthony Lamb (Vermont)
- Oklahoma City Blue (Thunder): Zavier Simpson (Michigan)
- Lakeland Magic: DJ Hogg (Texas A&M)
- Westchester Knicks (Knicks): Justin Patton (Creighton)
- Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Rockets): Armoni Brooks (Houston)
- Raptors 905 (Raptors): Kevon Harris (Stephen F. Austin)
- Rio Grande Valley Vipers: Jarron Cumberland (Cincinnati)
- Oklahoma City Blue: Vince Edwards (Purdue)
- Austin Spurs (Spurs): Jonathan Kasibabu (Fairfield)
- Raptors 905: Gary Payton II (Oregon State)
- Memphis Hustle: Anthony Cowan Jr. (Maryland)
- Iowa Wolves: Dakarai Tucker (Utah)
- Salt Lake City Stars (Jazz): No pick
- Delaware Blue Coats (Sixers): Jemerrio Jones (New Mexico State)
- Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Pacers): Oshae Brissett (Syracuse)
- Westchester Knicks: No pick
- Iowa Wolves: No pick
- Long Island Nets (Nets): No pick
- Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (Clippers): No pick
- Fort Wayne Mad Ants: Quincy McKnight (Seton Hall)
- Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (Clippers): No pick
- Santa Cruz Warriors (Warriors): Selom Mawugbe (Azusa Pacific)
- Raptors 905: No pick
- Memphis Hustle: No pick
- Austin Spurs: Anthony Mathis (Oregon)
- Erie BayHawks (Pelicans): No pick
- Greensboro Swarm: No pick
- Austin Spurs: Kaleb Johnson (Georgetown)
- Santa Cruz Warriors: No pick
- Memphis Hustle: No pick
- Oklahoma City Blue: Rob Edwards (Arizona State)
- Salt Lake City Stars: No pick
- Greensboro Swarm: No pick
- Erie BayHawks: No pick
- Westchester Knicks: No pick
- Delaware Blue Coats: Braxton Key (Virginia)
- No picks from 43-57
The teams that didn’t make any picks will fill their rosters with affiliate players and returning rights players, meaning they didn’t need to draft anyone and/or didn’t have the open spots to do so.
As Jonathan Givony of ESPN and Blake Murphy of The Athletic noted (via Twitter), NBAGL teams overwhelmingly opted for youth, passing on most of the notable veteran NBA players in the draft pool. That group included Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, Lance Stephenson, Emeka Okafor, and Shabazz Muhammad, among others.
Having already been granted a disabled player exception following Jonathan Isaac‘s season-ending ACL tear, the Magic have now applied for a second DPE in the wake of Markelle Fultz suffering the same injury, reports Josh Robbins of The Athletic.
As we explained when the Magic were approved for their initial disabled player exception, the DPE is a salary cap exception designed to allow teams to add a replacement for a player who suffers a season-ending injury. It’s worth either half the injured player’s salary or the value of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, whichever is lesser.
In the case of Fultz, who is earning a $12,288,697 salary this season, a disabled player exception would be worth about $6.14MM.
The disabled player exception doesn’t give a team an extra roster spot, but it allows the club to add a player without using cap space to do so. It can be used to sign a free agent, to claim a player off waivers, or to acquire a player in a trade. However, it can only be used on one player and can only accommodate a player on a one-year deal. A free agent signee can’t get a multiyear contract, and any trade or waiver target must be in the final year of his contract.
The Magic currently have a full 15-man roster and are less than $3MM away from the luxury tax line, per Robbins, so the odds probably aren’t great that the team would make use of two disabled player exceptions before the April 19 deadline. Still, they’re useful tools to have available and could be used to creatively structure a trade at the deadline.
As Robbins notes, the Magic could also consider applying for a hardship exception if they want to add immediate help to a roster hit hard by injuries. Unlike the DPE, approval for a hardship exception allows the team to sign an extra player to its standard 15-man roster. Teams qualify when they have at least four players who have missed three or more games, assuming those players are expected to be sidelined for at least two more weeks.
In addition to the season-ending injuries to Isaac and Fultz, the Magic will be without Chuma Okeke (bone bruise) for several weeks, and there has been little indication when Al-Farouq Aminu (knee surgery) might be able to return.
- Magic center Mohamed Bamba is still playing catchup after the effects of a summer coronavirus case extended into this season, writes Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Bamba wasn’t cleared for contact work until December 16, and limited practice opportunities because of the condensed schedule have slowed his attempt to get back into game condition.
In the wake of Markelle Fultz‘s season-ending knee injury, rookie Cole Anthony has becomes the Magic’s No. 1 point guard, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel writes. Anthony, who was selected with the No. 15 pick in the draft, logged a season-high 32 minutes on Wednesday when Fultz was injured.
“Cole, in my opinion, he’s the starter right now and I think that he’s ready to take it and grow with it and we all have great confidence in him,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said.
Many G League hopefuls – including a number of NBA veterans – are eligible to be selected in the NBAGL’s 2021 draft, which will take place on Monday. But competition for those draft slots figures to be fierce.
Since the majority of NBAGL roster spots are occupied by affiliate players and returning-rights players, teams often don’t make full use of the draft anyway. In a typical year, the G League draft is four rounds and teams are only required to make two selections. As G League expert Adam Johnson points out (in a Twitter thread), this year’s draft will last just three rounds and teams won’t be required to make any picks.
Roster spots will also be at a premium for a couple more reasons — 11 NBA teams’ affiliates aren’t participating in the G League bubble, and rosters won’t be expanded for training camp, as a coronavirus precaution. Johnson suggests he wouldn’t be surprised if only about 20 or so players are selected in Monday’s draft.
Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:
- Former Knicks guard Allonzo Trier will be among the players vying to be picked in Monday’s G League draft, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Trier is signing an NBAGL contract.
- Magic swingman Terrence Ross has signed with Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul for representation, says Charania (Twitter link). Klutch also added Calvin Andrews as a senior agent directing basketball operations, per Charania, who notes that Andrews’ client list includes Magic forward Aaron Gordon and Timberwolves wing Josh Okogie.
- A high-ranking team executive who spoke to David Aldridge of The Athletic said the NBA is unlikely to seriously consider expansion before the end of the 2021/22 season. However, Aldridge notes that Seattle is at the top of the league’s list. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said this week that she’s “pretty optimistic” about the city’s chances of getting a team in the coming years.
- In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, draft gurus Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz examine how NBA evaluators are approaching this year’s class, take a closer look at some underperforming Kentucky prospects, and consider how a single-site NCAA tournament will impact NBA scouting.
In the wake of the season-ending ACL tear suffered by Magic point guard Markelle Fultz this week, Josh Robbins of The Athletic weighs in on what the injury means for Orlando’s future. The Magic’s hot 6-2 start to the 2020/21 season suggested that perhaps Fultz and the rest of the club’s available young core might have taken the next step in their development.
“It was really tough just to see your teammate go down — but of all people, Markelle,” Bone said of his Magic teammate. “He’s set the intensity since Day 1 for us guards and the team collectively.”
Recently-extended Magic starting point guard Markelle Fultz is set to miss the rest of the 2020/21 season after tearing the ACL in his left knee, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. Fultz suffered the injury during the first quarter of tonight’s 105-96 defeat of the Cavaliers. Fultz’s three-year, $50MM contract extension will kick in during the 2021/22 season.
This is quite a blow for the Magic. Fultz will join the club’s fellow injured 2017 lottery draftee Jonathan Isaac on the sidelines for the duration of the 2020/21 season. Isaac received an $80MM extension of his own ahead of the season, all of which he is set to miss as a result of his own torn left ACL, which he incurred during the 2020 NBA playoffs this past August.
Fultz was selected with the No. 1 pick by the Sixers in the 2017 NBA draft. After various shoulder injuries limited the 6’3″ guard to just 33 games across his first two seasons, Philadelphia traded a still-injured Fultz to the Magic ahead of the 2019 deadline.
Fultz was available for 72 of Orlando’s 73 games during the subsequent 2019/20 season, and developed into a reliable, athletic starter for the playoff-bound Orlando.
In 27.7 MPG, he averaged 12.1 PPG (on 46.5% shooting from the field), 5.1 APG, 3.3 RPG and 1.3 SPG. This season, Fultz was averaging 14.3 PPG, 6.1 APG, 3.6 RPG, and 1.0 SPG during the Magic’s first seven games.
With Fultz sidelined, Michael Carter-Williams and rookie Cole Anthony figure to see more minutes at the point this season. Both of Orlando’s two-way players – Jordan Bone and Karim Mane – are point guards as well.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.