Orlando’s magic keep an eye on Gary Harris could make his season debut in Friday’s away game against the Chicago Bulls (6-9) at the United Center (8 p.m., Bally Sports Florida/Bally Sports+/FM 96.9 Game).
Harris was promoted to probable on Thursday’s injury report after being sidelined early in the season, missing the first 15 games as he recovered from a left knee injury.
The Magic go 4-11 on Friday after going 3-4 in the season-long seven home games that ended in a draw. They lost 126:108 to the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday at the Amway Center.
Harris had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in late August after torn meniscuswhich also forced him to leave the training camp.
He told the Orlando Sentinel last Friday that he was “getting close” to returning to the floor, but he wasn’t sure when that would be.
Looks like it’ll be Friday.
“I can’t really say which day or which because some days are better than others right now, but I’m feeling fine right now,” Harris told the Sentinel before a home win over the Phoenix Suns on November 11. “I’m just trying to keep it that way.”
Harris has suffered various minor injuries throughout his career, but a meniscusectomy was his first surgery, he said, providing various challenges during the rehabilitation process.
“It’s just different,” said Harris. “Different movements. It’s something I need to come back to comfortably and familiarize myself with after my first one. I just watch my body react.
Starting with the great man Wendell Carter Jr. who sat in lost to the Timberwolves due to a pulled right plantar fascia (the soft tissue under the foot), he is also listed as a probable on Friday against his former team.
Rookie striker Paolo Banchero is out due to a left ankle sprain he sustained in the match home loss to the Houston Rockets November 7.
He told the Sentinel on Wednesday that his ankle had developed since the first injury, but he was still in pain, adding that it was the first time he had injured it.
His return will ultimately depend on how he responds to rehab and treatment, but he expects to be sidelined for at least 1-1.5 weeks.
After a matchup with the Bulls Magic, they will face the Pacers in Indianapolis on Saturday and Monday. Their first post-Thanksgiving game will be against the Philadelphia 76ers on November 25 at the Amway Center.
Col. Anthony (torn right internal oblique), Markelle Fultz (fracture of the big toe of the left foot), Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury treatment) and Moe Wagner (right metatarsal sprain) also remain sidelined.
None of the five Magic players absent on Friday (Anthony, Banchero, Fultz, Isaac and Wagner) traveled with the team to Chicago.
Harris, who had an expiring 2021-22 contract that paid him $20.5 million, signed a 2-year, $26 million extension to return to Orlando before free agency officially begins on July 1.
He has a $13 million fully guaranteed salary for the 2022-23 season and a $13 million non-guaranteed salary for the 2023-24 season. His salary for 2023-24 will be fully guaranteed after June 30, 2023.
Harris finished last season averaging 11.1 points on 43.4% field goals and 38.4% 3-pointers for a 53.9% field goal percentage – a formula that takes into account that 3-points are worth more than 2-points.
He ends the healthiest season in several years with 61 appearances, the most in a season since the 2017-18 season. His eFG% was also the highest since then.
He will help the Magic as an off-ball point threat with his cuts and 3-pointers, especially in catch and shoot and find situations.
In the 2021-22 season, he achieved a record 41.3% (4 attempts per game) on his 3 catch-and-shoot attempts, and according to the statistics provided, he was an above-average or great cutter in six of the previous seven seasons to the league’s official Synergy website.
Orlando is the league’s top scoring team for cuts, shooting 76.3% in action, but taking only 5.3 field goals, the lowest in Thursday’s top 10.
The Magic’s 33.6% 3-point percentage and 34.8% 3-point percentage in catch and shoot were the league’s seventh-worst ratings on Thursday.
Harris should immediately help Magic in these areas.
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