Report: Magic apply to exclude Timofey Mozgov’s cap hit due to career-ending injury

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The Magic have gotten expensive.

Perhaps, they’ll get some relief with the salary cap and luxury tax.

After Timofey Mozgov missed all of last season due to a knee injury, Orlando waived and stretched him this summer. He counts $5,573,334 on the books this season and each of the next two seasons.

Mozgov signed with Khimki Moscow this summer. However, he hasn’t played in the Russian team’s first nine games.

In August, Mozgov said, via TASS:

“There is some progress in my knee injury recovery, although not as speedy as it should be since it is an old-time trauma,” Mozgov said in an interview with TASS. “I don’t want to make wrongful accusations in regard to American doctors, but their treatment of my injury was not quite correct.”

“It seems to me at the moment that they have been treating me based on a wrong diagnosis,” he continued. “Nothing terrible has happened, but the injury has aggravated as the time went by.”

Mozgov’s pain could become the Magic’s gain.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Orlando has applied to the league seeking to have Timofey Mozgov’s remaining salary … removed from the books under career-ending injury and illness provisions, league sources say

Mozgov will still get the $16.72 million the Magic owe him. The big question: Will it count toward the salary cap and luxury tax?

An NBA Fitness to Play panel will rule on Mozgov’s health. The Collective Bargaining Agreement requires players to cooperate, including by “appearing at the reasonably scheduled place and time for examination by the jointly-selected physician.”

The NBA must also determine Mozgov’s career-ending injury “became known or reasonably should have become known” while with Orlando. After his last game, Mozgov got traded from the Nets to the Hornets to the Magic in the 2018 offseason. Corroborating evidence for Orlando: Though he didn’t play, Mozgov was available for a 2018 Magic preseason game, according to Dante Marchitelli of Fox Sports Florida.

Mozgov is 33. He could certainly be finished, and perhaps Orlando knows more than is publicly available. Or maybe this is just a stab at gaining flexibility.

The Magic could use it. They’re near the luxury-tax line and could be again next season and maybe even the following season. Orlando could just pay the tax in future seasons, but that seems unlikely. Getting Mozgov’s salary excluded could open the door for using the mid-level exception and upgrading the roster.