Jonathon Simmons craved a bigger role. He has it with his new team, the Orlando Magic. “That’s just a part about me: improving and wanting to be better and having a bigger role,” said Simmons, who left Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs in free agency this past summer in search of greater opportunities and a big payday. I expressed that to Pop. I said, ‘I can be good over here, but I can’t be great.’ I want to be able to go against the Kawhis night-in and night-out. I even talked to LeBron James over the phone, and he was like, ‘We want you in Cleveland.’ And I said, ‘No, I want to play against you.’ I want to be able to play against elite guys and be able to, in a couple of years down the line, be just where they are.”
November 24, 2017 | 1:09 pm EST Update
Another big reason the Magic can be optimistic about turning the corner is the evolution of fourth-year forward Aaron Gordon, who is averaging career highs in points (17.5) and rebounds (8.1). “I think what he’s done is he’s finding a rhythm to his game, a pace to his game,” new Magic GM John Hammond said. “I think he’s just scratching the surface, too. Joe Dumars always used to say this: ‘Every offseason you should come back with one little part of your game better. Whatever it is. Just one thing.'”
The improvement comes as Gordon is poised to become a restricted free agent this summer, but Hammond sounds convinced that both Gordon and the Magic will be able to come to terms on a long-term contract keeping him in Orlando. “You look at a guy like that and say, ‘He’s one of those guys as you move forward with, that you got to have,'” Hammond said. “And we feel that way.”
Hornets PR: Injury Update: @hornets Nic Batum (ulnar nerve contusion) is OUT for tonight’s game at CLE. Jeremy Lamb will start.