Magic Star Paolo Banchero Responds to Fan’s ‘Caitlin Clark’ Jab

Caitlin Clark

Getty Indiana Fever #22 Caitlin Clark on the court during a WNBA game against the New York Liberty.

NBA All-Star forward Paolo Banchero had no qualms over WNBA‘s No. 1 pick Caitlin Clark having more nationally televised games than him and his Orlando Magic team.

“Rightfully so! My time [is] coming,” Banchero said on X, formerly Twitter, in response to a fan who pointed out the disparity in national exposure between the two No. 1 picks.

The Magic had only one nationally televised game, both on TNT, in each of Banchero’s first two seasons since he was selected as the top overall pick in 2022.

In stark contrast, Clark and the Indiana Fever have 36 national TV games in her rookie season. Clark has become a box office draw, not only for the winless Fever but for the whole WNBA after her arrival as one of the biggest stars in women’s college basketball history from Iowa.

While the Fever remain winless, Clark has lived up to the hype, averaging 17.0 points, 5.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds.

On the other hand, Banchero is also steadily rising in the NBA after playing for Team USA last summer in the FIBA World Cup in Manila. His momentum spilled over to his second NBA season, earning his first All-Star selection and leading the Magic to their first playoff berth since 2020.

The 21-year-old Banchero averaged 22.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 80 games for the Magic in the regular season. He took his game to the next level in the playoffs, averaging 27.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists as the Magic pushed the Cleveland Cavaliers to the limit in the first round.

Magic Eye D’Angelo Russell in Free Agency

According to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, the Magic “have interest” in signing Los Angeles Lakers starting point guard D’Angelo Russell if he enters free agency. Russell can do that by declining his player option worth $18.7 million for the 2024-25 season.

Banchero hopes the Magic can get a reliable point guard who can set the table for them.

“We have a lot of talented guys who can make shots and make plays: me, Franz (Wagner) and Jalen Suggs. I would rather be more of an offensive hub than the point guard if that makes sense,” Banchero told The Washington Post on May 16.

Russell fits the bill.

The Lakers guard averaged 6.3 assists with 18.0 points and 3.1 rebounds this season. A volume 3-point shooter, Russell could also instantly juice up the Magic’s offense which stalled at critical moments in the playoffs leading to their first-round loss.

Russell shot 41.1% from the 3-point range and hit three 3s per game this season, which could be a welcome addition for the Magic that ranked last in 3-pointers made.

Klay Thompson is Another Option

The Magic could land Golden State Warriors star and four-time NBA champion Klay Thompson this offseason, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

“The [Orlando] Magic can open up in excess of $60 million in cap space this offseason,” Charania reported on “Run It Back” on FanDuel TV on May 6. “So there are gonna be players when you think about free agency and other moves that can be made you look at scoring. In Game 7, obviously the Magic struggled a little bit to score the ball, especially in the second half of the game when the [Cleveland Cavaliers] and Donovan Mitchell kept coming for them. So you look at the point guard position but also shooting and scoring on the wing and one name to keep an eye on is Klay Thompson. I’m told there is mutual interest between the magic and Klay Thompson.”

Thompson, a five-time All-Star, might need a change of scenery after his fluctuating role on a contract year led to his worst season since his second year in the league.

The veteran forward is a 41.3% career 3-point shooter, averaging 3.1 per game, which the Magic need. This season, Thompson normed 3.5 3s per game.