Augustin, Ross Both Say Being Away From Family Will Be Toughest Part

Both, however, are excited about rejoining their teammates at Disney to resume their season
by John Denton

ORLANDO - In recent days, Orlando Magic guard Terrence Ross sat down with young son, Tristan, and informed him about how their extensive father/son time was about to soon come to an abrupt end because he ``has to go back to work.’’

Then, Ross had to explain that even though he will be just down the road – at Disney World only a few miles from the Ross’ suburban Orlando home – that he won’t be around to splash in the pool, play mini-basketball or take part in video games alongside of his son.

``It’s going to be tough because we’ll be home, but not at home and it’s going to suck,’’ Ross said on Thursday in a Zoom call with media. ``We’re going to be in there (sequestered) so long, not get to see our families or get to go home. It’s a short amount of time, but no one wants to be away from their families that long. I don’t know what to expect, but I am going to try and incorporate some things to stay engaged with my family and my kids and we’ll see how it goes.’’

With the NBA set to restart its suspended season in late July at Disney World, the Magic would seem to have a homecourt advantage considering that they are playing just a dozen miles or so away from their home base at the Amway Center. However, because all the players, coaches and staffers from the 22 NBA teams on hand will be sequestered in a campus-style environment and fans won’t be allowed onto the grounds to watch the games, the Magic’s chances for any sort of homecourt advantage will most likely be neutralized.

At a minimum, sequestered players, coaches and staffers will be away from their family members for a minimum of five weeks. Players on teams that advance to the first round of the playoffs will likely remain sequestered for seven weeks. As for teams that reach the NBA Finals, they could potentially be away from family members as long as Oct. 12 – a span of nearly four months.

In something of a cruel twist of fate for Magic players with small children – such as Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, D.J. Augustin, Michael Carter-Williams and Ross – they will be just miles away from their family without being able to see them in person for several weeks. Not only will Augustin be away from six-year-old daughter Kailey, four-year-old son Trey and two-year-old son Chase, he will be apart from wife Brandy during a particularly critical time for her.

``A few weeks ago, maybe three weeks ago, my father-in-law passed away, so my wife, she really needs me right now, but the same time she understands what I need to do for my job and for our family,’’ said Augustin, who has arranged to have eight family members travel to Orlando to assist with childcare in the coming weeks. ``So, it’s even harder for me right now to leave her and to leave my children. They’re so used to me being home right now and being home every day, but I’ve had a talk with them about me needing to leave and do what I need to do for our family and my career. Everybody understands, but the hardest thing for me is leaving and being away for that time period.’’

Fournier, a native of France, is sending his family back to Paris in an attempt to ease the frustration of being so close to family without being able to be with them.

``I had a great time during the shutdown, one of the best times of my life, to be honest,’’ Fournier said. ``I was able to spend time with my son, seeing him grow every day and not leaving home. I loved being home and having time to work on some of the stuff that I wanted to work on. I had a great time, I really did. It’s unfortunate (why the NBA season was stopped), but I had a great time and leaving them behind is going to be tough, for sure.

``They’re actually going back to France because my wife doesn’t want to stay home (alone) for six weeks, so she’ll be in Paris with my family and that will make me feel a little better. But that’s the point where I really think, `This sucks.’^’’

One potential advantage for the Magic, head coach Steve Clifford said, is that the team won’t have to take a flight early next week to get to Orlando for the start of the campus portion of the season restart. The Magic will head to Disney as a team on Tuesday where it will soon begin several training-camp style practices. After playing a few scrimmages against other NBA teams, Orlando will begin their eight ``seeding games’’ on July 31 when it faces the injury-and-illness-ravaged Brooklyn Nets.

Soon after, the playoffs will begin, and the Magic are hopeful of being in the postseason for a second straight year. The Magic currently sit a half-game back of No. 7 Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference standings. At the time of the NBA stoppage on March 11, the Magic were one of the NBA’s hottest teams with a three-game winning streak and victories in eight of their previous 12 games.

Augustin, an 11-year NBA veteran, said the many different factors of this NBA restart could make the playoffs quite eventful and possibly packed with upsets. With no homecourt advantage, no fans in the stands and so much uncertainty surrounding how teams will respond to the nearly four-month layoff in the season, Augustin thinks a squad like the Magic could be a surprise squad come playoff time because of all the factors in play.

``It’s going to be crazy because there are so many things that are going to go into it,’’ Augustin said of the expected chaos in the NBA restart to the season. ``We’re not playing in front of fans, which is very important for us as players because we feed off the fans. No homecourt advantage, everybody has been sitting out for three (months) and you don’t know who’s been doing what (in terms of staying in shape), so it’s going to be crazy. I know a lot of people have the Lakers and the Bucks favored, but it’s going to be crazy and wild and no one knows what’s going to happen at the end of this situation. I really don’t know what’s going to happen, but I feel everybody has a chance and an opportunity to do something special and surprise a lot of people.’’

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors.

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