By John Denton
Feb. 11, 2017
DALLAS – High-flying forward Aaron Gordon missed his second straight game on Saturday because of a bone bruise in his right foot, but the Orlando Magic still believe the injury to be minor and Gordon’s return to be imminent.
Gordon, Orlando’s most dependable defensive player all season, is hoping to return as soon as possible to help the Magic get their season back on track. Of secondary concern, Gordon is also hopeful to get back on the floor so that he can compete in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star Saturday Night in a week.
The Magic want to see Gordon, 21, fully healthy before he is released to participate in the dunk contest in New Orleans. Ideally, Gordon would play his normal minutes – he averages 27.5 minutes per game – on Monday against Miami and on Wednesday against San Antonio to prove that his foot is sound and fully healed.
``Honestly, when it comes to injuries like this, like a bone bruise, I defer to the trainers,’’ Magic coach Frank Vogel said. ``They’ll tell me when it’s safe for him to be back on the floor. It’s really up to them.’’
Gordon tested the foot at the team hotel in Dallas on Saturday morning, but he was still feeling pain. Gordon showed up to American Airlines Center early on Saturday night to undergo more therapy on his foot.
Gordon was one of just two Magic players to appear in all 54 of the team’s games before being forced to sit out on Thursday against the Philadelphia 76ers because of the foot injury. He first started feeling pain on Tuesday night in Houston, knocking him out of the game after just seven minutes of action.
Gordon, who is averaging 11.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 rebounds a game, electrified the basketball world last February with his six slams in the dunk contest. Despite twice jumping over Magic mascot, Stuff, Gordon took home a controversial second-place finish to Minnesota’s Zach LaVine. LaVine, a two-time dunk champ, announced that he wouldn’t compete and then tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
CARLISLE HAPPY FOR FORCIER: Dallas Mavericks’ head coach Rick Carlisle is widely considered one of the NBA’s best tacticians, if not the outright best. One of Carlisle’s pupils, Chad Forcier, was also considered one of the NBA’s best developmental coaches for years for the work that he did in improving players such as Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard.
Carlisle is plenty happy now to see Forcier on the bench as a full-fledged assistant coach with the Magic. Forcier first caught the eye of Carlisle in 2001 when he was training college basketball players at Pete Newell’s legendary big-man camp. Carlisle soon offered Forcier a job on his staff as a development coach with the Detroit Pistons. When Carlisle left for the Indiana Pacers in 2003, he took Forcier with him.
Forcier worked for the Spurs from 2007-16, earning high praise from five-time champion head coach Gregg Popovich. With the Spurs, Forcier not only worked to develop players, but he often offered up offensive and defensive suggestions, Popovich said.
Vogel has said he’s known for years that Forcier could be a premier coach and he quickly offered him a top assistant position when he took over in Orlando. That made Carlisle quite happy.
``I’ve been trying to convince him to get out of San Antonio for a long time, and he had different offers for years and years, but this was a great offer for him,’’ Carlisle said. ``He’s done extremely well. He’s developed some guys who are going to be Hall of Famers and he’ll do the same for Orlando. But now he’s taking on more bench responsibility, which he really was more than ready for.’’
GREEN STILL ELATED: No one on the Magic is more excited about getting to Miami on Sunday than veteran forward Jeff Green, who is still riding an emotional high over the birth of his first child – a baby girl – on Tuesday morning. Green left the Magic in Houston on Monday night and made it to Miami in time to be there with his fiancé, Stephanie, for the birth of the couple’s first child. He was back with the team for Thursday’s home game and Saturday’s game in Dallas, but he’s excited to travel to Miami on Sunday to see his newborn daughter and fiancé again.
Green, who recently celebrated the five-year anniversary of his open-heart surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm, has talked for weeks about his excitement over the birth of his daughter. He doesn’t hide from the fact now that seeing his daughter being born was the most emotional moment of his life.
``It was a blessing and all glory to God for that because she was healthy and (Stephanie) was healthy, so I’m very blessed and thankful,’’ Green said. ``A lot (of tears). Once I saw one hair follicle peek out, there were a lot of emotions – a big outburst of emotions – and more came afterward.’’
WILCOX HOPEFUL OF A RETURN: C.J. Wilcox, whom the Magic acquired last July from the Los Angeles Clippers, is back around his Orlando teammates and is hopeful of getting healthy enough to play in the coming weeks.
The season has been a mostly forgettable one for Wilcox, who was brought in with the hope that he could fortify the team’s outside shooting. Instead, he’s appeared in just 16 games – mostly in mop-up duty. In addition to spending four days in the D-League, Wilcox has missed the past 12 games with tendinitis in his left Achilles tendon.
Wilcox got out of the walking boot he’s worn the past two weeks on Friday and he hopes he can practice with the Magic by next week.
``That’s the goal – getting 100 percent and showcasing what I can do,’’ Wilcox said. ``I’ll probably return to practice in a week to a week-and-a-half and I hope I can get right for the last month-and-a-half of the season.’’
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