- Jameer Nelson ($8,600,000)
- Arron Afflalo ($7,750,000)
- Glen Davis ($6,400,000)
- (Quentin Richardson – $2,808,600)1
- Maurice Harkless ($1,809,840)
- Nikola Vucevic (1,793,520)
- Tobias Harris ($1,545,840)
- Andrew Nicholson ($1,482,000)
- Doron Lamb ($788,872)
- Hedo Turkoglu ($12,000,000)2
- Al Harrington ($7,148,600)3
- Kyle O’Quinn ($788,872)4
- E’Twaun Moore ($884,293)5
Free Agents / Cap Holds
- Beno Udrih ($11,058,300)
- No. 2 pick ($3,969,800)
- DeQuan Jones ($988,872 – QO)
- (Fran Vasquez – $1,827,400)
- (Jeremy Richardson – $884,293)
- 1st Round (2nd overall)
- 2nd Round (51st overall)
- Guaranteed Salary: $42,552,972
- Options: $0
- Non-Guaranteed Salary: $11,247,465
- Cap Holds: $18,728,665
- Total: $72,529,102
Trading away a superstar and finishing with the league’s worst record would leave most teams in dire straits. That’s not so for the Magic, who exhibited glimmers of brighter days ahead during an otherwise lost season. Second-year center Nikola Vucevic, acquired last summer as part of the four-team blockbuster that shipped Dwight Howard out of town, ripped off a pair of 20-point, 20-rebound games against the Heat, and was one of only seven players in the NBA to average a double-double. Trade deadline pickup Tobias Harris thrived when given the minutes he never saw as a member of the Bucks, and rookie Maurice Harkless gathered steam as the season wore on.
There remains much work to do for GM Rob Hennigan, the 31-year-old wunderkind and former Spurs employee whom the Magic hired away from the Thunder’s front office a year ago. The draft is the first item on the agenda, and there’s no easy decision with the No. 2 overall pick. There’s been talk that the Magic could trade down, though they’re reportedly “far from desperate” to do so. If they keep the pick, multiple reports note that Victor Oladipo has overtaken Ben McLemore on the team’s draft board, which suggests Oladipo could be the pick. Chad Ford of ESPN.com, who provided one of those reports, says the Magic would strongly consider Nerlens Noel if the Cavs take a pass on him. Many mock drafts have linked the Magic to Trey Burke over the last couple of months, but Burke isn’t part of the group of a half-dozen players considered likely to be drafted first in some order or another, so perhaps he could be Orlando’s target if the team trades down.
One of the reasons for the Burke talk has been the widespread perception that point guard is a position of weakness for the Magic, which seems incongruous given that one of Hennigan’s first acts after assuming the job was to give Jameer Nelson a three-year, $25.2MM contract. Though Nelson posted the worst field goal shooting of his career, he did so on his greatest number of shot attempts, and he also had more assists than ever. The 31-year-old isn’t an elite point guard, but he’s not the worst, either, and after 2013/14, there’s only $2MM guaranteed on his contract for the next season. The Magic may want to bring a young point guard aboard for Nelson to mentor, but I doubt they’d reach for one in the draft.
The Magic appear much more willing to trade for a young point guard, given their pursuit of Eric Bledsoe that dates back nearly a month, at least. It seems like the Clippers aren’t quite as sold on such a deal, which could include Caron Butler and Arron Afflalo, which makes sense considering the Clips appear to have hopes that Bledsoe can help them net a much greater return. Afflalo, like Nelson, suffered a decline in shooting but an increase in other numbers amidst a greater offensive role this past season, but his contract has three more years and $23,437,500 left on it, including a nearly $8MM player option for 2015/16. Afflalo's production last season was similar to Nelson’s, but it came tied with a more expensive — and lengthier — contract. If the Magic can unload Afflalo for a reasonable return, they’d probably do it, and that helps explain why they’re targeting a shooting guard in the draft.
Of course, Afflalo’s deal is relatively team-friendly compared to some of the baggage on the team’s payroll. Hedo Turkoglu’s regrettable five-year, $52.8MM contract is entering its final season, and Turkoglu has admitted he wouldn’t be surprised if the Magic waived him, triggering a partial guarantee worth just $6MM. The final year of Turkoglu's deal doesn’t become fully guaranteed until January, so I could see the Magic keeping him around for a while this summer in hopes of somehow trading him. It nonetheless seems likely that the 13-year veteran has played his final game with Orlando.
That could be the case for Al Harrington, too. Harrington responded to a report that he was considering retirement with the insistence that he wants to play five more years, but with the Magic reportedly set to allow him to work out for other teams in hopes of showcasing him for a trade, it doesn’t look like he’ll be sticking around Orlando. His deal has two more seasons left, worth a total of $14,758,400, but both years are only 50% guaranteed. Harrington was a valuable contributor on a playoff team as recently as a year ago in Denver, and he’s probably slightly more likely than Turkoglu to open the season on the Magic’s roster. If the Magic can’t find a taker for Harrington this summer, they could again try to showcase him before the trade deadline next season.
It appears the Magic will also try to trade Glen Davis. Injuries limited Big Baby to 34 games this past season, but when healthy, he took advantage of his newfound role as a full-time starter, posting 15.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG and a 15.0 PER, all career highs. The team was 12-13 when he went down with a shoulder injury, and though he returned for nine games in January before suffering a season-ending broken foot, the Magic went 8-49 after his initial injury. Despite his relatively positive impact last season, he’s under contract for a total of $13MM the next two years, all of which is fully guaranteed. I’m not sure that less than half a season of productivity is enough to convince another team that he’s ready to pick up where he left off, so the Magic could encounter difficulty in trading Davis similar to their trouble with Turkoglu and Harrington.
The most prominent free agent on the Magic roster is probably Beno Udrih, picked up in the deadline deal that sent J.J. Redick away. Udrih won’t get anything close to the $7.372MM he made this past season, but if the team doesn’t draft its point guard of the future this summer, the veteran who averaged 10.1 points with a tidy 6.1/2.0 assists-to-turnover ratio after the trade could find his way back to Orlando.
The Magic will have plenty of room under the cap this summer, but I don’t expect them to try to sign any of the prominent free agents to a long-term deal. Orlando’s pleasant weather and lack of state income taxes figure to interest a few notable players, but I don’t think any superstars are willing to be a part of the rebuilding there, and the Magic are probably content to move forward with their young players, a la Hennigan’s old team in Oklahoma City. The free agents the Magic sign are likely to come in on one-year deals, or multiyear deals with team options that allow Orlando to open cap room again next summer, when another high draft pick and another year of development for their young core could make the franchise more attractive to 2014’s long list of prominent free agents.
Going 20-62 is not fun, and the team’s trio of inflated contracts present Hennigan with plenty of challenges. Yet there’s reason for optimism in the middle of the Sunshine State, even if the team can’t find takers for its overpaid talent. Four players who made at least 20 starts last season are on rookie-scale contracts, and the team figures to add another to that list through the draft this year. The foundation of a competitive team is already taking shape. The ultimate question is whether Hennigan and the Magic can build a team that will compete for titles, as the Dwight-centric squads of recent vintage did. The franchise's patient approach ensures the answer to that one won't be discovered this offseason.
- Undrafted rookie DeQuan Jones was a surprise starter early in the season, but he drifted in and out of the rotation. He was only under contract for one year, so the team can extend a nearly $1MM qualifying offer to have the right to match any offer he gets from another team this summer. I'm not sure the Magic would need to go that length, since Jones might not command more than the minimum salary, which for him would be $788,872. Since the Magic gave Jones his chance, I'd imagine he'd be inclined to take that offer from them over the same money elsewhere, though that's just my speculation.
- The Magic retain the rights to Fran Vasquez, the 11th pick in the 2005 draft, even though it seems decreasingly likely that he'll play in the NBA. Unless the team signs him this summer, his cap hold will disappear once the season starts.
- The Magic waived Richardson at the end of training camp this past year, even though his contract runs through the end of next season. Richardson signed his deal under the old CBA, so he and the Magic aren't necessarily subject to the stretch provision, which would allow Orlando to spread his payment out over five years. The amount Orlando owes Richardson next season could be reduced via set-off rights if he signs with another team.
- Turkoglu’s contract is partially guaranteed for $6,000,000.
- Harrington’s contract is partially guaranteed for $3,574,300.
- O’Quinn’s contract becomes fully guaranteed if he’s not waived on or before opening night.
- Moore’s contract becomes fully guaranteed if he’s not waived on or before June 30th.