Magic Sign Michael Carter-Williams to 10-Day Contract
ORLANDO – Looking to address their depth and firepower at the point guard position behind steady starter D.J. Augustin, the Orlando Magic signed veteran Michael Carter-Williams to a 10-day contract on Friday.
With Mo Bamba (stress fracture in left tibia), Isaiah Briscoe (meniscus tear in right knee), Markelle Fultz (thoracic outlet syndrome) and Timofey Mozgov (arthroscopic surgery on right knee) out indefinitely with injuries, Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman was forced to request clearance from the NBA for an additional roster spot. When it was granted because of the high number of injuries, the Magic signed the 27-year-old Carter-Williams. Including two-way players Troy Caupain and Amile Jefferson and Carter-Williams, the Magic now have 18 players on their roster.
``This isn’t like we’re trying to find a young player to develop at this stage. There’s a reason we were awarded a roster spot – we have four players right now who are out,’’ Weltman said on Friday. ``So, to add a player who our coaches are familiar with and will bring some elements that we need, that’s what we were looking for.’’
Orlando (32-38) snapped a two-game losing streak with a resounding 120-91 defeat of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night. The Magic, who are hoping to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012, came into Friday just 1 ½ games back of the rival Miami Heat for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Carter-Williams, the 2014 NBA Rookie of the Year, will practice with the team on Saturday and be available for Sunday’s home game against the Atlanta Hawks. He should have a tremendous familiarity with the Magic’s system after playing 52 games last season in Charlotte when Orlando head coach Steve Clifford and his staff worked for the Hornets. Carter-Williams also played for the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2014-15 and 15-16 seasons when Magic GM John Hammond worked for the Bucks. Those factors weighted heavily in adding Carter-Williams via a 10-day contract, Weltman said.
``He’s a player known for his defense and his ability to impact that end of the floor,’’ Weltman said. ``Coach Clifford has had him in Charlotte and John has had him in Milwaukee, and when you make an in-season pickup, it’s always beneficial to try and find some continuity and a known player if possible. Michael will bring elements that will help our team and the fact that our coach has had him – those are factors in us picking him up.’’
Augustin has been one of the Magic’s most consistent players all season, averaging 11.6 points and 5.0 assists while shooting 47.3 percent from the floor and 43.2 percent from 3-point range. The depth behind Augustin, however, has been a problem area all season.
Orlando traded for Jerian Grant last July, but he’s been in and out of the rotation because of uneven play. Rookie Isaiah Briscoe was inserted into the rotation on Jan. 9, and he brought toughness and organization to the Magic’s second unit prior to suffering a concussion and injuring his knee on Feb. 22. Briscoe played four more games before being forced out of action and needing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
Since Briscoe has been out, Grant has played well against Dallas (six points, four assists and two steals), Memphis (nine points, five rebounds and three 3-pointers), Washington (four points and one assist) and Cleveland (three points, five assists and three rebounds).
Carter-Williams, who has played for five NBA teams from 2013-19, gives the Magic some added insurance at point guard. In 52 in Charlotte last season, he averaged 4.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists. In 16 games with the Houston Rockets earlier this season, Carter-Williams contributed 4.3 points and 1.3 assists.
``He’s an elite-level defender, he pushes the ball up, he can run and offense and right now we’re an injury away from having one point guard on our roster,’’ Weltman said. ``So, it’s important that we bolster the roster and give ourselves every chance to hit our stride down the important stretch.’’
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