The Orlando Magic are parting ways with third-year pro R.J. Hampton, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Hampton was drafted with the No. 24 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and later traded to the Denver Nuggets. Instead of going to college, Hampton opted to play for the New Zealand Breakers of the NBL. Upon entering the NBA, Hampton had a slow start to his career, averaging 2.6 points and two rebounds over his first 25 games.
A trade to the Magic boosted Hampton’s production, as he became a regular in their rotation, averaging 11.2 points, five rebounds and 2.8 assists in 25 minutes per game.
For the past two seasons, Hampton’s production has steadily declined along with his playing time. Prior to the trade deadline, the Magic housed Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs in the guard rotation, as well as Gary Harris and Franz Wagner at the guard/forward slots, creating a stiff competition for minutes.
Since Jan. 5, Hampton has only played in 55 seconds of game action. He’s been inactive or did not play for 20 of their last 21 games, including 14 consecutive.
According to HoopsHype, Hampton is under contract for north of $2.4 million this season, as his team option was declined. The Detroit Pistons were the first to strike, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Hampton will be signing with the rebuilding Eastern Conference team.
After clearing waivers, guard R.J. Hampton plans to sign with the Detroit Pistons, sources tell ESPN. Hampton, the 24th overall pick in 2020, averaged 5.7 points in 13.9 minutes for the Magic this season.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 21, 2023
Hampton will be ingratiated into a system with two other young point guards — Jaden Ivey and Killian Hayes — and will likely compete for minutes with back up point guard Cory Joseph in the second unit if not challenging for Hayes’ starting gig with rookie standout Cade Cunningham sidelined.