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Orlando Magic sign Chuma Okeke

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The Magic have officially signed the 2019 No. 16 overall pick

2019 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Two days before the 2020 draft, the Orlando Magic have officially signed their pick from the 2019 draft.

Chuma Okeke, drafted with the 16th overall pick in 2019, has signed his rookie contract with the Magic, the team announced Monday.

The Okeke pick was a surprise by the Magic given the team’s more pressing needs and limited roster flexibility. Okeke, who averaged 12.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game as a sophomore at Auburn, was recovering from a torn ACL suffered during the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

The surprises continued when it was announced the Magic planned to make Okeke a redshirt rookie in what was seemingly an unprecedented verbal agreement (one that I am still surprised Okeke agreed to given the risks and one-year delay in his free agency). Instead of signing a rookie contract, Okeke rehabbed with the Lakeland Magic, providing the Magic over $3 million in financial relief for the 2019-2020 season. The Magic now have a hopefully healthy Okeke under team control for four years.

He will now be one of two first round picks to join the Magic this season. With Jonathan Isaac’s injury (and with Aaron Gordon trade rumors circulating) there are minutes to be claimed at the forward position. Okeke, a 3-and-D specialist who shot 38.9 percent from deep over two years at Auburn, adds some much-needed perimeter shooting to a Magic team that shot just 34.3 percent from three last season, which was sixth worst in the NBA.

Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman spoke to reporters prior to the signing on Monday and addressed Okeke:

“Chuma has just been a robot,” Weltman said. “He’s been a machine. He’s working his tail off, as well. We are at the point now where we’re hopeful that we can execute a contract for him in the upcoming, I don’t want to put a window on it, but shortly. Once that happens, then he’ll be able to fully participate in all the activities, and he needs that. It’s been a long, long time since he’s played and we need to integrate him into the activities.”