Chuma Okeke’s rookie season will now be in 2020-2021.
The rookie forward, who the Magic drafted 16th overall, will sit out the season to recover from a torn ACL he suffered during the NCAA Tournament with Auburn.
Sources: The Orlando Magic plan to redshirt No. 16 overall pick Chuma Okeke this season. Creative move by both sides allows Okeke to focus on ACL rehab while still being in team's long-term plans and receiving salary of 16th pick.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 23, 2019
The news comes as no surprise following the moves the Magic made to fill out their roster, and with Okeke remaining the lone unsigned first round pick from the 2019 NBA Draft. It will, however, come as a disappointment to those who preferred the Magic use their draft pick on a player who could make an immediate impact and fill a void on a team looking to return to the postseason.
While details of the arrangement between the Magic and Okeke haven’t yet been released, the benefits of the redshirt season are obvious. It puts no pressure on Okeke to return, giving him ample time to rehab and recover. When ready, he could then get playing time with the Lakeland Magic (assuming he is to sign a G-League contract, ensuring the Magic retain his rights during the redshirt season), rather than sitting on the bench and taking up a roster spot in Orlando, where there is already a frontcourt logjam.
If Okeke is to sign his full rookie contact following the 2019-2020 season, the Magic will have him under contract for four seasons before he becomes a restricted free agent, with hope that his knee issues are behind him. It also gives the financially-strapped Magic flexibility with the roster spot for the upcoming season.
Having Chuma Okeke sit out the season benefits both sides. Okeke will earn an extra $1M by signing next summer under the 20-21 rookie scale. ORL are currently $3.8M below the tax (w/o Okeke- he would have count $3.1M) and can use the 2 open spots on a player(s) that can help now.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) September 23, 2019
Very unique situation for a first-round pick. More to come on this story as the details of the agreement are released.