By John Denton
Oct. 5, 2017
ORLANDO – Maybe it’s only fitting now that Orlando Magic guards Evan Fournier and Arron Afflalo are teammates considering how their careers have so often been linked in years prior.
Fournier was selected in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets – a transaction that likely played a role in Afflalo being shipped to the Magic later that year. Then, on draft night in 2014, the Magic acquired Fournier by shipping Afflalo – their leading scorer at the time – to Denver.
Fournier has since blossomed into Orlando’s leading scorer, averaging a career-best 17.2 points per game last season. Afflalo, who has played for five teams in the past four seasons, signed with the Magic in July as a free agent, allowing him to share the same position with Fournier.
“With Arron and I, it feels we have a connected (history) in the NBA,’’ Fournier said. “I don’t know, maybe we’re connected (in the past) somehow. I just think it’s a cool story. Arron is a veteran and has been around a long time. I’m definitely looking forward to talking to him (about his playoff experiences). He’s a good guy so far.’’
PAYNE IN PAIN: Considering the many detours his path to the NBA has already been forced to take, Magic forward Adreian Payne isn’t about to let a hand injury stop him now from his dream.
Payne, 26, fractured the fourth metacarpal in his left hand during practice on Wednesday. Payne signed a two-way contract prior to the season, meaning he will spend time both with the Magic and the G League’s Lakeland Magic, and now he’s out for an extended period of time.
Payne was drafted 15th overall by the Atlanta Hawks in 2014, but a foot injury derailed the start of his pro career. After that, he was sent to the G League four different times sandwiched around him seeing action in one NBA game. He was then traded to Minnesota where he had a 16-point, 15-rebound night in one of his first games with the Timberwolves. He was again sent to the G League before it was determined that he had a treatable blood condition that again knocked him out of action.
Wednesday’s hand injury, which happened when he collided with an unidentified teammate in practice, is the latest setback for the 6-foot-10, 237-pound Payne.
“I’ve had some bumps in the road and I’ve been on some teams where I haven’t had the chance to play, and I was drafted high, but it didn’t work out,’’ Payne said. “So, me being in this two-way position (with the Magic and the G League), I could have gone overseas and made a lot of money, but I feel like I should be in the NBA and I can play in the NBA. I’m just trying to show (the Magic) that I will do what I have to do to be on the team and get my career started the right way.’’
SHORT-HANDED MAVS: Teams’ desires to rest their players has been a hot-button issue much of this preseason and NBA legislation was passed recently that gave Commissioner Adam Silver the ability to fine teams for holding multiple, healthy players out for nationally televised games.
There was no such TV scenario on Thursday and the Dallas Mavericks took advantage of the opportunity to rest their veteran players. Having played in Dallas on Wednesday night, the Mavericks kept seven of their most veteran players – Dirk Nowitzki, Devin Harris, Harrison Barnes, Wes Matthews, J.J. Barea, Josh McRoberts and Nerlens Noel – back in Texas, allowing them to skip the flight to Orlando for a second game in as many nights. Also, veteran Mavs coach Rick Carlisle skipped the game because of an illness, leaving assistant Melvin Hunt to coach the game.
“I had literally had picked up my portion of halibut, macaroni and cheese and broccoli and I was heading to the plane and Coach (Carlisle) said, `Hey, Mel, come here,’’ Hunt joked. “It hasn’t been days; it’s been a few hours. (Carlisle) hasn’t been feeling well and he’s in (training) camp, too. It’s just the right thing to do, for our veterans as well as for coach (to rest) because he was getting under the weather. We’ve got a staff and we can manage this easily.’’
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