Wendell Carter eager to return, enjoying the ride of Orlando Magic's win streak

Wendell Carter took a big step toward returning to the court on Tuesday as he eyes his return soon. But he has enjoyed the ride like everyone else as the Orlando Magic keep building on this winning streak.
Wendell Carter and Markelle Fultz are still working their way back from injury as the Orlando Magic's win streak continues.
Wendell Carter and Markelle Fultz are still working their way back from injury as the Orlando Magic's win streak continues. / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Wendell Carter said he knew immediately something was wrong as he skied for a rebound late in the Orlando Magic's game against the Utah Jazz on Nov. 2.

The Magic were leading by just one point with one second left in the game when Talen Horton-Tucker missed a three-pointer and Wendell Carter was the one to secure the rebound and secure what turned into a win.

But Carter came down with the board and immediately went toward the locker room holding his left hand. He said he immediately got frustrated fearing that this would be an injury that would keep him out for a while.

He fractured the third metacarpal in his left hand. He would indeed have to miss significant time once again. But here he is now, eagerly waiting for his chance to return to the court.

Tuesday then was a good day as the cast around his left hand was removed and he took a critical step toward returning to the court.

"Today was probably one of the best days of my life when he said I didn't have to wear the cast anymore," Carter said after practice Tuesday. "It's just another step in the right direction. I'm just super excited to get back out there at some point and continue to help this team win."

Carter has mostly been doing some work on the bike to keep his cardio and conditioning up. He has done some dribbling with his right hand but that is about it.

He still will not be able to do much basketball work now. But with his hand out of a cast, he will be able to start strengthening his left hand again.

The unfortunate part of this injury is that it is waiting for the bone to heal. Carter revealed that he had some screws and wires placed in the bone with surgery and so he and his doctors are waiting for the healing process to finish.

Carter said he will see the doctors again in 1.5-2 weeks and he is hopeful that at that meeting he will be given the clearance to begin basketball activities and ramping back up toward playing. There is still a process to go through for Carter.

It just takes time.

It is taking time too for Markelle Fultz to get back from his left knee tendinitis. He has been out for 12 of the past 13 games with left knee tendonitis, playing only in the loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

He has been alongside Carter off to the side at practices working on some conditioning and very basic exercises. But it is not clear if he is any closer. Coach Jamahl Mosley said both players were "progressing slowly."

But that has not taken them out of the process of helping this team or being part of this team, especially with the Magic on such a long win streak.

"They are talking, they are communicating, they are in with the guys with everything that we are doing when it comes to huddles, when it comes to meals when we are on the court doing things," Mosley said after practice Tuesday. "They have not skipped a beat in that sense. Their voices have been great communicating with this group even though they are not playing."

Both Fultz and Carter remain big presences on the bench. And hte Magic are eagerly awaiting their returns to the team.

If there is a strength for this roster, it is that everyone is so eager to cheer for each other and work with each other. Everyone has stepped up in the process and the Magic's injured palyers are eager to join in on the fun.

They are along for the ride at the moment and doing what they can from the sidelines to provide encouragement and perspective.

But the Magic are making good on what they all believed they could do from the start, even without two starters.

"Everyone has been locked in from Franz [Wagner] to [Paolo Banchero] to Cole [Anthony] to J[alen] Suggs," Carter said after practice Tuesday. "Everyone has elevated themselves to a point where they are doing whatever they have to do to win. We all bought in from the beginning of the year. Some nights it's Paolo's night, some nights it's Franz's night, some nights it's Cole's night as we saw the last couple of games. It just shows everyone has bought into just winning and whatever it takes to win."

There are definitely some people who are concerned about disrupting the chemistry when these players do return. To be sure, both Carter and Fultz are likely to slot back into the starting lineup once they return (whenever that might be). But they will also undoubtedly make the team better -- Carter especially was playing stellar defense before his injury.

This team though has been remarkably resilient. And everyone has filled in and everyone has supported each other. That has helped make this ride so much fun.

It is still crazy to think how much better the Magic will get when Carter and Fultz return. That time is coming soon as Carter took a big step Tuesday.

Next. Magic keep making waves. Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic keep making waves. dark

Until then, they are along for the ride and enjoying it like everyone else.