Arron Afflalo is set to make his return to the Magic's lineup tonight in Cleveland after missing much of the last two weeks with a bruised thigh and after attending to a personal matter in Los Angeles, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Afflalo's return will be a very welcome sight to an injury-depleted Magic team that has struggled making rotations work and getting the offense going in his absence. Afflalo is one of the few players on the team that is pretty consistent offensively, can have plays run for him and can play strong enough individual defense to make opponents gameplan around him somewhat.
Certainly it will be nice to get guys like Jameer Nelson, E'Twaun Moore and Ish Smith a breather with Afflalo in the lineup after the Magic had to rely on virtually only two guards in uniform for much of the past week with J.J. Redick and Jameer Nelson also dealing with nagging injuries.
Afflalo is the team's leading scorer, averaging 16.7 points per game. Right before his injury too, it seemed like Afflalo was establishing a rhythm and boosting his field goal percentage up from 44.2 percent. After Wednesday's loss to the Clippers it will be nice to have another player the Magic can turn to and generate offense.
Yes, getting guys back from injury is a very good thing for this Magic team as they try to fight their way out of an 11-game losing skid and a stretch of losing 22 of their past 24 games. Unfortunately, tonight in Cleveland, Orlando will still be without J.J. Redick.
The Magic have been extremely cautious with injuries so far this year, perhaps recognizing that the season is more about developing the young talent they have and preserving the value of their assets for potential trades. that would account for Redick still being out and the slow returns for Afflalo and Nelson. There is not a playoff chase to be too worried about at this point.
Still, getting Afflalo back on the floor and playing well coudl be a boost for the Magic. There was some interest, it seemed in the veteran guard, and Orlando likely would like to drum up more interest in him to try and shed his rather large but manageable contract. Whether those rumors were drummed up or real is another thing entirely as Orlando still has an important decision to make regarding J.J. Redick.
In other news, Nikola Vucevic will know who he is playing for in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge.
The Magic's center will join Ricky Rubio, Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried and Brandon Knight on Team Chuck for the yearly exhibition of the league's top first- and second-year players. Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal held their draft last night on TNT with Barkley taking Vucevic in the seventh round of the draft.
Surprisingly both passed on Kyrie Irving in the first round in a head-scratching move after Irving scored 30-plus points in last year's game with a 3-point showcase. Irving will be in the 3-point shootout and All-Star Game too for a busy weekend for the Cavaliers guard.
Unfortunately, Vucevic will be the Magic's lone representative at the All-Star festivities next weekend. J.J. Redick was once again passed over for a spot in the 3-point shootout as Irving, Paul George and Steve Novak will comprise the East's representatives in the shooting competition.