The Orlando Magic (5-16) will be significantly healthier for Wednesday’s home game vs. the Atlanta Hawks (11-10).
Terrence Ross, who missed Monday’s 109-102 loss to the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center because of an illness, will also be available.
The Sentinel’s reporting was confirmed when the Magic released their injury report, listing Wendell Carter Jr. (strained right plantar fascia strain), Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery), Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness) and Chuma Okeke (left knee soreness) as out and Mo Bamba (back spasms) as questionable for Wednesday (7 p.m., Bally Sports Florida/Bally Sports+/FM 96.9 The Game).
Fultz has yet to play this season after fracturing his toe late in the offseason. He told the Sentinel on Nov. 9 that he was hoping to return “within the next 3-4 weeks” — a time frame of Wednesday-Dec. 7.
He was questionable to make his season debut in Sunday’s 133-103 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers but was ruled out pregame, with coach Jamahl Mosley saying “we’re just going to give it a couple of more days” when asked about Fultz’s status.
A couple of more days turned out to be three.
Anthony missed the last 16 games after exiting the Oct. 26 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers with the oblique injury. He told the Sentinel Sunday that he expected to be back very soon but didn’t disclose a date. A source told the Sentinel earlier in the month that he hoped to return to play after Thanksgiving in late November/early December.
The improved player availability, especially with Anthony and Fultz, will be helpful for a Magic team that was without nearly half its roster Monday and has dealt with health issues all season. They’ve had at least five players sidelined each game and had 113 total player games missed to injury/illness — the most in the league.
The Magic have been especially thin at guard, with Anthony, Fultz, Suggs and Gary Harris missing a combined 61 games. Harris missed the season’s first 15 games because of left knee injury recovery after having an arthroscopic meniscectomy on his left knee in late August after tearing cartilage, which also forced him to miss training camp.
Fultz is entering the second season of a 3-year, $50 million contract ($35 million guaranteed) he signed with the Magic in December 2020.
He has a $16.5 million salary for 2022-23 that’s fully guaranteed, while $2 million of his $17 million salary is guaranteed for the 2023-24 season. Next season’s salary will become fully guaranteed if he’s on the roster past July 1.
Fultz’s injury struggles have limited his playing time (131 games in five seasons) since being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft.
“I’ve been through so much,” he said. “I understand this process, be patient and listen to your body and when that time comes, just be ready for it.”
He played in just 33 games from 2017-19 with the 76ers because of a nerve issue in his right shoulder. He was dealt to the Magic ahead of the 2019 trade deadline.
Fultz’s healthiest season came with the Magic in 2019-20, when he played 72 games (60 starts) and averaged 12.1 points (46.5% shooting) and 5.1 assists in 27.7 minutes.
He missed most of the last two seasons because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee just eight games into the 2020-21 season.
After a 14-month absence, Fultz returned in a home win over the Indiana Pacers on Feb. 28 and averaged 10.8 points (47.4% shooting), 5.5 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 20 minutes (18 games).
He should provide the Magic with steady on-ball playmaking and open up off-ball scoring opportunities for several of his teammates.
Anthony, a third-year guard who the Magic drafted at No. 15 in 2020, led the Magic in scoring (16.3) and assists (5.7) last season.
“When we do get healthy, there will be a rhythm to the game and understand some of the rotations,” Mosley said. “With that being said, we’re still going to have to look at different combinations, and lineups. The message to our guys is when you step on that floor, it’s about competing [and] fighting.”