Okeke (knee) was close to taking part in contact work in practices with the Lakeland Magic before the G League cancelled its season Sunday, Josh Robbins of The Athletic reports. After being selected 16th overall by Orlando in the 2019 NBA Draft, Okeke opted not to sign a standard four-year rookie contract while he continued to recover from the torn ACL he suffered last March while playing for Auburn. Instead, the organization has been overseeing his rehab in the G League while preserving a spot on the 17-man roster for a healthy player in the process. The Magic have been pleased with how Okeke has been progressing from the serious knee procedure, but the cancellation of the G League season will prevent the organization from assessing him in a practice setting until the summer. Okeke should be ready to play in the Las Vegas Summer League if the coronavirus pandemic doesn't impact the event. Expect Okeke to sign his rookie deal with the Magic later this summer and contend for a rotation spot ahead of the 2020-21 season.
The Magic are expected to keep Okeke inactive for the entire 2019-20 while he focuses on rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. Just as the Kings and Nuggets have done with Harry Giles and Michael Porter Jr., respectively, over the past two years, the Magic plan to treat Okeke's rookie campaign as a redshirt year while the big man recovers from the torn ACL he sustained while playing for Auburn in the NCAA tournament. Okeke should be at or near full strength in the spring, but the Magic won't rush him back into action while the team prioritizes his long-term health. Even if he entered training camp 100 percent healthy, Okeke would likely have trouble finding playing time with all of Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Mo Bamba, Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu ahead of him in some order on the Magic's frontcourt depth chart. Since he's sitting out the season, Charania relays that Okeke won't sign his standard four-year rookie contract until next offseason, an arrangement that should earn the big man an extra $1 million with the rookie scale set to increase. That decision also benefits the Magic, who won't have to extend one of their 15 roster spots to a player who won't contribute in 2019-20.
Okeke (knee) was selected by the Magic with the 16th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Okeke enjoyed a breakout sophomore season at Auburn, starting 38 games and putting up 12.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks per contest. However, he tore his ACL during the NCAA Tournament, so he'll likely miss at least the first month or two of his rookie season. For Orlando, selecting Okeke is more of a long-term upside play.
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