The Orlando Magic plan to “redshirt” number 16 overall pick Chuma Okeke.
This means Okeke will probably sit for the entire 2019-2020 season, as he rehabs a torn ACL. He could be available to return after the All-Star break, but will likely play for the Magic’s G-League team, if he plays at all.
The Auburn forward tore his ACL in the Tigers’ win over North Carolina in the Sweet 16. The Magic drafted him anyway, seeing his potential once he returns from injury.
“Redshirting” him in the NBA means that, instead of signing him to a contract after drafting him, which is the norm, he will remain unsigned. If Okeke is eager to play, the Lakeland Magic (their G-League affiliate) will sign him to a deal.
According to Bobby Marks of ESPN, Okeke will earn a $1 million bonus if he signs under the 2020-2021 rookie scale. The Magic will also be able to use the money allotted for Okeke this year to sign two other players that can contribute. While, if they signed him now, it would essentially be dead money for the 2019-2020 season.
Having Chuma Okeke sit out the season benefits both sides. Okeke will earn an extra $1M by signing next summer under the 20-21 rookie scale. ORL are currently $3.8M below the tax (w/o Okeke- he would have count $3.1M) and can use the 2 open spots on a player(s) that can help now.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) September 23, 2019
In his two years at Auburn, Okeke averaged 9.9 points per game, shooting 55 percent on two-pointers and almost 39 percent on threes. He was also a good rebounder at 6.3 rebounds per game, adding one block and one steal per game to his totals.
Orlando has historically been known for its front courts, bringing up players like Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard in his prime. Most recently they have committed to big men such as Nikola Vucevich and Mo Bamba. So being signed as a forward for the Magic means much potential is seen in the 21-year-old Okeke.
The Orlando Magic will begin their season at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers on October 23. The Lakeland Magic begin on November 8, and it is unclear when Okeke would be slated to play.
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