Orlando Magic 2023 NBA trade deadline watch: R.J. Hampton
The NBA’s 3 p.m. Thursday trade deadline is nearing and a significant move has already been made around the league.
The Nets traded All-Star starter Kyrie Irving and veteran forward Markieff Morris to the Dallas Mavericks just two days after Irving requested a trade out of Brooklyn for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 first-round pick and a pair of second-round picks.
The Orlando Magic (22-32), who’ve turned their season around by going 17-13 in their last 30 games after starting 5-19, aren’t expected to make organization-altering moves ahead of the deadline. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be inactive heading into Thursday, even if they aren’t guaranteed to make a trade.
Among the Magic players most likely to be involved in a deal if one is made is third-year guard R.J. Hampton. NBA reporter Marc Stein, citing unnamed sources, reported at the end of January that the Magic are “welcoming trade inquiries for Mo Bamba, Gary Harris, Terrence Ross and R.J. Hampton” ahead of the deadline.
Here are things to know about Hampton ahead of Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline:
Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 175 pounds | Age: 21
Contract: Hampton is in the third season of his 4-year, $11.1 million rookie scale contract after being drafted with the No. 24 pick in the 2020 draft. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent during the offseason after the Magic didn’t exercise Hampton’s rookie scale fourth-year team option for the 2023-24 season.
2022-23 averages: 5.7 points (43.9% from the field — 52.5% on 2s, 34% on 3s), 1.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 13.9 minutes (26 games).
The buzz: Hampton’s spot in the rotation was unpredictable early in the season despite the Magic being down multiple guards because of injuries. He hasn’t been a consistent part of the rotation since Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz made their returns on Nov. 30, and his role has only been diminished even more since the returns of Gary Harris and Jalen Suggs.
Hampton has only played in seven of the Magic’s 32 games since Dec. 1 and played more than 20 minutes once in that span — the Jan. 4 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder when most of the regular guard rotation was sidelined.
He’s requested and received multiple assignments with the organization’s G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic, over the last couple of months to get the playing time he needs to develop and stay in game shape.
The Magic were impressed by his humility and maturity to make the request — one not a lot of former first-round picks would make.
Hampton’s averaged 22.7 points (46.1% shooting) and 4 rebounds in seven games with Lakeland since mid-December. He had a team-high 30 points on 11-of-23 shooting in 31 minutes off the bench during Sunday’s 122-121 home loss to the Mexico City Capitanes.
“Whenever I’m not playing here, I’d rather play there,” Hampton recently told the Orlando Sentinel. “That’s really been my mindset — play whenever I can.”
Hampton’s improved 2-point accuracy (up from 40.5% last season) and finishing around the rim demonstrate the game is slowing down for him and he’s better weaponizing his speed — areas he wanted to improve over the summer. He has the size and athleticism to be an impactful defender. Hampton’s been a solider shooter, especially in spot-up/catch-and-shoot situations.
His talent and potential are evident, but Hampton needs playing time to develop — which has been hard to come by in a crowded backcourt filled with other young guards, including Fultz, Suggs and Anthony.
It appears, for now, that Hampton is the odd man out.
“Not really,” Hampton responded when asked by the Sentinel if there’s been dialogue shared with him about where he stands ahead of the deadline. “People tag you on stuff on social media and you see stuff like that, but that’s about it, for real.”
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.