There had been hope Okeke might return after the All-Star break in February. Now if he does, he’ll do it with the Magic’s G League team.
The Magic, getting creative with their roster for the upcoming season, plan to “redshirt” first-round pick Chuma Okeke, according to The Athletic.
Okeke suffered a torn left ACL in Auburn’s Sweet 16 victory over North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament, but the Magic made him the 16th overall pick only months later.
The “creative move by both sides allows Okeke to focus on ACL rehab while still being in (the) team’s long-term plans and receiving salary of 16th pick,” The Athletic tweeted.
Sources: The Orlando Magic plan to redshirt No. 16 overall pick Chuma Okeke this season. Creative move by both sides allows Okeke to focus on ACL rehab while still being in team’s long-term plans and receiving salary of 16th pick.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 23, 2019
Initially there had been some hope that Okeke might return after the All-Star break in mid-February. Now it appears his return, if it happens this season, would be with Orlando’s G League team in Lakeland, Florida.
The versatile 6-8 forward had a breakout sophomore season at Auburn in 2018-19, averaging 12.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks.
Okeke, who turned 21 in August, will earn an extra $1 million by signing next summer under the 2020-21 rookie scale, ESPN.com noted, adding that Orlando currently is $3.8 million below the tax threshold without Okeke, who would’ve counted $3.1 million against their salary cap.
Orlando’s current roster is a mix of veterans such as Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic and rising young players such as Mo Bamba, Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac.
The Magic can now use their 2019-20 salary space and two open roster spots on players who can help immediately.