SATURDAY, 1:59pm: The Magic have officially announced the moves.
FRIDAY, 10:12pm: Having just made their camp cuts this evening, the Magic will pick up their rookie-scale options on four players tomorrow, reports Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. The team is set to guarantee the 2014/15 salaries of Maurice Harkless, Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson and Nikola Vucevic.
Robbins first reported that the team had decided on the option pickups back in July, well ahead of the October 31st deadline and long before most teams make these kinds of moves. Together the exercised options will add $8,565,534 to the team’s 2014/15 commitments, bringing the total to about $33.4MM — the 11th lowest amount of guaranteed salary in the league when I ran the numbers and projected next summer’s cap space for every team earlier this month.
Vucevic and Harris, who’ll be playing their fourth NBA seasons in 2014/15, will receive about $2.75MM and $2.4MM, respectively, while Harkless and Nicholson, who’ll be third-year guys that season, are set to make around $1.9MM and $1.5MM. Check out our tracker for details on 2014/15 rookie contract options for each team as the October 31st deadline to exercise them draws near.
J.R. Smith was not in attendance at the Gary Forbes Foundation Strike Out Diabetes Celebrity Softball Tournament in Brooklyn today. But his brother Chris Smith was, and when he was asked about his brother's five-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug policy, he told the New York Daily News:
"I mean it is what it is. Stuff happens. It’s a little setback, but it’s not the worst thing going on in sports.”
Here's more from around the NBA on a slow September Saturday night less than a month before training camps open in October…
Hoops World's Alex Kennedy wrote about the young core Rob Hennigan has acquired since his term as Magic general manager started in 2012. The Magic's roster has been growing closer this offseason, akin to the young Thunder team Hennigan worked for before joining the Magic.
The youthful Magic players mentioned in the piece, Maurice Harkless, Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic, rookie Victor Oladipo, Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O'Quinn, and Doron Lamb only took a couple weeks off after the season concluded in April before returning to Orlando.
Once in town, they all work out, lift weights and scrimmage five-on-five together before hanging out off the court to grab food, play cards or watch TV at someone's house at night.
Said Harkless of all the time spent together, “I think it’s really important. We pretty much spend all of our time together, whether it’s in the gym or just hanging out at a guy’s house playing video games, watching TV or playing Spades. We just spend a lot of time together. I think it’s really good. It’s going to help us build chemistry, on the court and off of the court.”
It's that same chemistry Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green, James Harden and Eric Maynor developed while they were all growing together in Oklahoma City with Hennigan looking on. Whether the Magic go on to reach the upper-tier as one of the NBA's true title-contenders, remains to be seen, but Magic fans have to like the growing bond between their young players.
- This summer, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported that the Magic were going to pick up the options on four of the players mentioned in Kennedy's piece who are all on their rookie-scale deals: Harris, Vucevic, Harkless and Nicholson.
- Picking up the options on all four – they have until October 31st, but Robbins believed the options could be picked before the 1st of October – means they'll be under contract in Orlando through the 2014/15 season. Next summer, the Magic will decide on fourth-year options for Harkless and Nicholson and an extension for Vucevic.
- Nicholson played well for team Canada tonight during their 81-74 loss to the Dominican Republic at the FIBA Americas qualifying tournament, tweets the Toronto Sun's Ryan Wolstat. Nicolson's play was one of the only bright spots in the game for Canada (Twitter).
- According to another Wolstat tweet, Canada needs Puerto Rico to beat Venezuela tonight and Mexico tomorrow while Canada also needs to defeat Argentina tomorrow to grab a spot in the 2014 FIBA World Championships in Spain next summer.
The Magic will exercise their 2014/15 options on Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson, Nikola Vucevic, and Tobias Harris, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel (via Twitter). For Harkless and Nicholson, the options are for their third years, while for Vucevic and Harris, they're fourth-year options.
Given the promise shown by Orlando's young players on rookie-scale contracts, none of these decisions comes as any surprise, and the moves may not become official for a while. The deadline to exercise team options on rookie-scale contracts is October 31st, so the Magic aren't in any rush. Still, Robbins says the moves could become formally completed prior to October 1st.
Picking up all four options will ensure that Vucevic (due $2.75MM in 2014/15), Harris ($2.38MM), Harkless ($1.89MM), and Nicholson ($1.55MM) will all remain under contract until at least the summer of 2015. In the 2014 offseason, the Magic will face decisions on fourth-year options for Harkless and Nicholson, and will have the opportunity to sign Vucevic and Harris to contract extensions.
With the 2013 draft now just two days away, Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld tackled some of the most frequently mentioned trade rumors, passing along the latest updates he's heard on Eric Bledsoe, Shawn Marion, and others in today's NBA AM piece. Here are the highlights:
- A rumored deal that would send Bledsoe and Caron Butler to the Magic in exchange for Arron Afflalo may also include Andrew Nicholson and/or a 2015 draft pick going to the Clippers, says Kyler. L.A. appears to be exploring all its options for Bledsoe, but if no team tops Orlando's offer, a trade could happen on draft night.
- While the Mavericks are denying that Marion would be attached to a deal involving the No. 13 pick, Kyler is hearing that there are two scenarios on the table that include Marion and the pick. One is with the Cavaliers, while the other is with the Pelicans. A Marion deal isn't necessarily Cleveland's top priority, however, and the fact that Marion has yet to officially exercise his 2013/14 player option may also be complicating discussions.
- The Warriors would like to trade into the draft and pick up a late first-round pick, but given the team's proximity to the tax line, adding a guaranteed rookie salary to the books may not make sense for Golden State.
- Breaking down the latest Luol Deng rumors, Kyler notes that it makes sense for Deng to play out the final year of his contract with the Bulls, but adds that he's heard a couple sources describe an eventual Deng trade as "inevitable."
- Following up on the rumor that the Cavaliers tried to acquire LaMarcus Aldridge, Kyler says there are rumblings the Suns made a play for Aldridge as well. It seems unlikely that the Trail Blazers would move the big man at this point, but there's certainly a market for him.
- Kyler confirms that the Timberwolves, who have been very aggressive over the last few weeks, tried to make a play for MarShon Brooks involving the No. 26 pick.
You can find the miscellaneous links we've gathered up out of the Eastern Conference below:
A handful of players with NBA ties have been invited to a weekend training camp that will take place soon to give Team Canada officials a first glimpse at candidates for their national team, as Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun reports (Sulia link). Tristan Thompson of the Cavs, Joel Anthony of the Heat, Cory Joseph of the Spurs, Andrew Nicholson of the Magic and Kris Joseph of the Celtics are on the list. Robert Sacre, the 60th pick in this year's draft by the Lakers, remains unsigned, but he's been invited as well. The team has officially named former Raptors head coach and current Blazers assistant Jay Triano as head coach, Wolstat also writes, and Rockets assistant coach Kelvin Sampson will also be an assistant with Team Canada. Lakers guard Steve Nash, serving as Team Canada's GM, said he wouldn't have accepted the position if Triano wasn't coming aboard, too, Wolstat notes. Here's more from around the Association this afternoon:
- The Heat conducted a workout with Josh Harrellson today, as we heard earlier, but the Timberwolves have no interest in the 6'10" University of Kentucky product, as they prefer a center with more length, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel notes that Harrellson is just one of several big men the Heat are considering (Sulia link).
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel looks at the options the Magic have at power forward to replace Ryan Anderson.
- The Bulls, Lakers, Clippers, Timberwolves and Warriors all have some significant injury issues with training camp about a month away, and Sam Amick of SI.com checks in on the status of Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard and others.
- Robin Lopez is recovering from left knee surgery that took place a week after the Hornets acquired him in a sign-and-trade, but he's expected to be ready for training camp, as John Reid of The Times-Picayune reports. Lopez expressed his enthusiasm about coming to New Orleans, saying, "I’m excited to be here. We’ve got a young, energetic group. The good thing is we’ve got some youth that has a little bit of experience as well. Hopefully we can parlay that into something special.’’
- Joe Dumars, Pistons president of basketball operations, traveled overseas with assistant GM George David to watch Jonas Jerebko and Slava Kravtsov in FIBA Eurobasket qualifying, as Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press writes.
WEDNESDAY, 10:40am: The Magic have officially announced the completion of the Anderson/Ayon sign-and-trade in a press release.
SUNDAY, 3:21pm: The Hornets will acquire Ryan Anderson in a sign-and-trade deal with the Magic, writes Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski. Once the moratorium ends, Anderson will agree to a four-year, $36MM deal with New Orleans, and the Magic will receive Hornets center Gustavo Ayon.
Anderson had plans to sign an offer sheet with New Orleans that the Magic were unwilling to match, and instead of losing him for nothing, managed to walk away with a decent big man. (Ayon averaged 5.9PPG and 4.9RPG in 54 games with the Hornets last season.)
Coming off a breakout season in which he was named the NBA's Most Improved Player, Anderson will join a suddently intriguing Hornets team that now features two bright lottery picks, Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers, and if the team chooses to match Phoenix's offer sheet for Eric Gordon, one of the league's most talented shooting guards will also be on board.
Orlando's unwillingness to match Anderson's offer sheet signifies that they're officially entrenched in a clear rebuilding effort, and a deal involving Dwight Howard appears to be even more likely now than before—although "before" felt like an eventual certainty anyway. Anderson's departure should also open up some more playing time for Magic first round pick Andrew Nicholson.
The Magic have signed 2012 first-round pick Andrew Nicholson, according to a team release. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the 19th overall pick has a rookie scale amount of about $1.18MM, so Nicholson could sign for up to about $1.42MM (120%) for year one.
Nicholson, 22, spent four seasons at St. Bonaventure, averaging 18.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks in 30.1 minutes per game in his senior season.