Orlando Magic

Eastern Notes: Fournier, Embiid, Brown, Nene

Evan Fournier turned down a four-year, $32MM extension offer from the Magic before this month’s November 2nd rookie scale extension deadline, league sources told Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. Orlando and the Bouna Ndiaye client reportedly never came close to a deal, and Fournier is poised for restricted free agency this summer.

“To be honest, I did not even expect to be extended,” Fournier said. “I had no pressure about that. If there was something good, I will take it. If not, I can wait until the summer. I don’t have to worry about it and make the wrong decision. I have confidence in myself and the season that I’ll have. The contract will take care of itself. You can’t go on the court and think about a deal. You must be focused and you must have the right mindset.”

Fournier doesn’t have his sights set on becoming a No. 1 option for a team, but he’s motivated to put his days as an afterthought behind him, as Charania examines. See more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Joel Embiid appears to be carrying himself with more maturity and seriousness than before, knowing he must commit to his rehabilitation, a source tells TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. The Sixers had reportedly been concerned about his conditioning, among other worries about the former No. 3 overall pick, but he’s been keeping himself in shape, Aldridge writes. It’s a dose of positive news for the 0-14 Sixers, who remain committed to their loss-laden rebuilding plan, as Chris Crouse of Hoops Rumors wrote as he examined the team’s moves from the past several months.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown wondered if his job was in jeopardy a year ago amid an 0-17 start for the team, but GM Sam Hinkie assured him then that he’s a major part of the plan, and the coach has earned respect within the organization for his persistence, Aldridge writes in the same piece.
  • Nene has been a starter for most of his career and has expressed disdain for playing center in the past, but so far, he’s accepted his role as backup center on the Wizards, and his team-leading 18 points Sunday helped show his value, writes Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. Nene is set for free agency at season’s end.

Eastern Notes: Bulls, Hezonja, Knicks

Joakim Noah, a 2016 free agent, hasn’t started a game, has career lows in nearly every statistic and is not in position to contribute more because the Bulls have changed into more of a 3-point shooting team, Sam Smith of NBA.com notes. While Pau Gasol, who has a player option on the final season of a three-year, $22.3MM contract that brought him to Chicago in 2014, has not struggled as much as Noah has, his production is much lower than it has been in recent years, Smith adds. Both players, of course, are getting up there in age (Noah is 30 and Gasol is 35), but feel healthy, Smith writes, and that adds to the frustration of not being able to help the team more.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Magic rookie swingman Mario Hezonja has shown flashes of the potential that made the Magic select him fifth overall in the draft, but his rookie mistakes on defense have led to a cut in his minutes, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel details. To his credit, Hezonja has been willing to learn from his mistakes and has fit in well with the Magic’s young locker room, Robbins adds. “Oftentimes, he’s just not ready,” Magic coach Scott Skiles said. “He’s not aware and he’s not ready. He knows it.”
  • The Bulls assigned Cameron Bairstow to the Austin Spurs of the D-League, Chicago announced in a press release. Bairstow is headed to Austin as part of the flexible assignment rule since Chicago is without a one-to-one partnership with a D-League team.
  • Carmelo Anthony is not surprised by Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis‘ hot start, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Porzingis has six double-doubles in his first 14 NBA games, as Berman points out. “Man, he’s 7’3″,’’ Anthony said. “There was only concern because people didn’t know and nobody ever saw him before. People were all so upset the Knicks drafted him. When you’re 7’3″, you just put your hands up and block a shot. For him to have seven blocks, it didn’t surprise me. [But] nobody expected [24] and 14, seven blocks. Nobody expected that, but I’ll take it.’’

And-Ones: Towns, Magic, Raptors

Karl-Anthony Towns has been able to contribute right away for the Wolves and he credits his experience playing for Kentucky for his ability to succeed, Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders writes.

“It feels like I already played a full professional season having been at the University of Kentucky,” Towns told Brigham. “Put that with the amount of away games we had there and we were also never home, so I transitioned well into the NBA with the travel and everything. It just has come easier for me than for a lot of people.”

New additions Andre Miller and Tayshaun Prince as well as Kevin Garnett, who came back to Minnesota via trade at last season’s deadline, have also helped Towns avoid a learning curve.

“When you talk about a mentor like KG, for me, [he] just teaches me a lot of the knowledge that he possesses,” Towns said. “That’s a lot more valuable than any of the shots that I might shoot in the gym. His experience, his talent, his ability to do things that so many people in this game have never figured out how to do, having him here to teach me those things is a blessing.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Magic are unlikely to seek out trades or make major changes this year, as they will use this season to figure out which players are long-term pieces, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes. Kyler examines the roster and believes the team is still one major piece away from becoming a real contender.
  • Jonas Valanciunas will forgo surgery on his left hand and will instead opt for rehab, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reports.  The center fractured his hand during Friday’s win over the Lakers and he will miss an extended period of time, though no timeline for his return has been given.
  • The Raptors have recalled Lucas Nogueira from the Raptors 905, the team’s D-League affiliate, according to a team press release. The center played four games during his assignment, averaging 9.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.

Offseason In Review: Orlando Magic

Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team’s offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.



  • None


Waiver Claims

  • None

Draft Picks

Camp Invitees

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

The Magic’s most significant offseason acquisition has not appeared in a game with them since 1994. The reason they brought him back was that many of the players on the current roster weren’t even born when he was wearing the Magic uniform.

Orlando spent the last few years acquiring young talent. GM Rob Hennigan needed a defensive-minded taskmaster to mold that group into a cohesive unit. Hennigan and the rest of the Orlando front office sought a proven NBA head coach who fit that description and chose an old fan favorite in Scott Skiles. “Our young roster will benefit greatly from Scott’s extensive head coaching experience and commitment to teaching smart, physical, unselfish basketball,” Hennigan said when he announced the decision. “We believe in Scott’s ability to establish a culture of winning habits and accountability that will help guide our team in a positive direction.”

The Magic also interviewed Mike Woodson for the job and a number of high-profile coaches, including Tom Thibodeau, Alvin Gentry and Scott Brooks, were reportedly potential candidates. Skiles received a four-year deal in late May, with a team option on the last season. It’s fair to wonder whether Skiles will last that long, or whether he’ll live up to his reputation of improving his team in the short run and then quickly wearing out his welcome.

That’s essentially what happened with Skiles in his previous head coaching stints with the Suns, Bulls and Bucks. But as Steve Aschburner of NBA.com recently noted, none of his successors won championships. He also had the chance to step back after those experiences and learn from his mistakes, which will theoretically make him a better coach as he tries to get the most out of his youth-laden roster.

Orlando is so young that reserve center Dewayne Dedmon, who is in his third NBA season, is the fourth-oldest player on the team. That a 26-year-old with 90 games of experience entering the season would be considered a graybeard by Magic standards shows just how green a group Skiles has inherited. The Magic have 10 players 25 or younger, while just two players have reached their 30th birthday.

Instilling a defensive mentality was the most crying need for the kiddie corps. The Magic finished 28th in defensive field-goal percentage last season at 46.3% and second-to-last in defensive 3-point percentage (36.8%). Thus far, the results have been promising. Through their first 11 games, the Magic are holding opponents to 42.3% shooting overall and 31.9% from long range.

Orlando added another top-five draft pick to its collection in June, choosing swingman Mario Hezonja. The 6’8″ Hezonja provides depth at both wing positions and has jumped right into the rotation. Hezonja’s athleticism and outside shooting elevated him to the top of the draft among shooting guard/small forward prospects but there’s no obvious starting spot for him in the foreseeable future unless the Magic fail to re-sign impending restricted free agent Evan Fournier.

The Magic made a couple of under-the-radar signings to bring in some experienced players, inking point guard C.J. Watson to a three-year deal and big man Jason Smith to a one-year pact. Watson not only gives starter Elfrid Payton a voice of experience to consult as he learns the intricacies of the position, he’s also a valuable rotation piece. Watson is averaging 19.5 minutes per game.

Smith has also gotten some minutes in a backup role at power forward and center, mainly due to an early-season injury to center Nikola Vucevic. But Smith seems more like an insurance policy, especially since Skiles has often used a smaller lineup.

The biggest development in free agency was the Magic’s decision to retain forward Tobias Harris. Orlando opened its vault and locked him up with a four-year, $64MM deal three days into free agency, rather than waiting for a suitor to extend an offer sheet and being forced to match those figures. The Magic were reportedly unwilling to match a maximum salary offer sheet, but Harris didn’t receive such an offer when the free agent signing period officially commenced. Several teams, including Hawks, Knicks, Pistons, and Celtics, had interest in him.

The club could find itself in a similar spot next summer with Fournier becoming a restricted free agent. The two parties passed on a rookie scale extension, setting up the scenario of Orlando doling out a sizable deal to retain him. Fournier has gotten off to such a strong start that his foray into free agency could determine the direction of the franchise, according to Keith P. Smith of RealGM.com.

By adding Hezonja and re-signing Harris, the Magic didn’t have a role for another young swingman, Maurice Harkless. They found a new home for him, shipping him to the Trail Blazers for a future second-rounder. They also fortified their backcourt by acquiring Shabazz Napier from the Heat. Napier, who recently had a 22-point outing with Watson sidelined by a minor injury, made them deep at the point guard spot at the cost of a protected second-round pick for next season.

Personnel moves aside, the biggest change for the Magic this season is the man running the show. It’s almost certain that a team loaded with so many young players will improve. The extent of that improvement — and Skiles’ ability to learn from the past and stick around long enough to turn this core group into a perennial playoff contender — will decide how meaningful this offseason was for the Magic.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post. The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of it.

And Ones: Gasol, Nuggets, Drummond, Hawks

The BullsPau Gasol could miss out on a major payday if he doesn’t opt out of his current deal next summer, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Gasol has a player option on the final season of a three-year, $22.3MM contract that brought him to Chicago in 2014. He is owed a little less than $7.77MM for 2016/17, when increased TV revenues are expected to greatly raise the salary cap. Two unidentified executives from rival teams told Johnson that even at age 36, Gasol could land two more years of guaranteed money if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. “I’ll wait to make that decision,” Gasol said. “All I’m focused on now is trying to play the best I can so that if I do opt out and explore, I have options. If I have the best season possible and work on my body and stay healthy and help this team accomplish its goals, I’ll go from there.”

There’s more from around the world of basketball:

  • The league has taken steps to reduce the unique home-court advantage the Nuggets possess because of Denver’s location and altitude, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Denver is at least a two-hour flight from nearly all NBA cities, which gives the home team a decided advantage against an opponent playing back-to-back games, especially when the thin mountain air is factored in. “I didn’t like it when I had to come here,” said Michael Malone, who is in his first season as Nuggets coach. “But I love it now.” Dempsey reports that the NBA has tried to cut into that edge by making Denver the first stop for teams traveling from the east and building an off day into the schedule for teams coming from the west.
  • The PistonsAndre Drummond tops a list of six players exceeding expectations compiled by Jonathan Concool of Basketball Insiders. Drummond was averaging 20.3 points and 20.3 rebounds per game heading into Saturday’s action. Rounding out the list are the BlazersC.J. McCollum, the Pistons’ Marcus Morris, the Bucks‘ Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Magic’s Evan Fournier and the LakersJordan Clarkson.
  • The Hawks will recall Edy Tavares and Lamar Patterson from the D-League Sunday, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Both are expected to be in Atlanta in time for the game with the Jazz.

2015/16 Salary Cap: Orlando Magic

The NBA’s salary cap for 2015/16 has been set at $70MM, which is an 11% increase from this past season, and the luxury tax line will be $84.74MM. The last cap projection from the league had been $67.1MM, and the projection for the tax line had been $81.6MM.

With the October 26th cutoff date to set regular season rosters now past, we at Hoops Rumors are in the process of running down the current salary cap commitments for each NBA franchise for the 2015/16 campaign. Here’s the cap breakdown for the Orlando Magic, whose regular season roster can be viewed here:

  • 2015/16 Salary Cap= $70,000,000
  • 2015/16 Luxury Tax Line= $84,740,000
  • Fully Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $68,110,002
  • Partially Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $350,000*
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $0
  • Total Salary Cap Commitments= $68,460,002
  • Remaining Cap Room= $1,539,998
  • Amount Below Luxury Tax Line= $16,279,998

*Note: This amount includes the $100,00 due both Jordan Sibert and Keith Appling, as well as the $150,000 owed to Melvin Ejim, all of whom were waived by the team.

Cap Exceptions Available:

  • Room Exception= $2,814,000

Cash Available to Send Out In Trades= $3,400,000

Cash Available to Receive Via Trade= $2,221,300

Last Updated: 11/14/15 @5:15pm

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Southeast Notes: Durant, Wittman, Dedmon, Payne

Kevin Durant didn’t give the media much to go on as he spoke this morning in Washington, where the Thunder will play the Wizards tonight, but he elaborated on the remark in which he called the attention he received the last time he played in Washington “disrespectful,” as The Oklahoman’s Anthony Slater relays. The Wizards showed a photo of Durant edited to depict him in a Wizards jersey on their scoreboard when the Thunder visited Washington last season, but Durant doesn’t pin any blame on the adulation from Washington fans.

“Nah, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with what the fans do,” Durant said. “Me, I’m just thinking as a player on the other side. Fans gonna do what they gonna do. I appreciate all the support going our way. But I’m just looking at it as an opposing player and if I was on that team and they came in here and did that, I wouldn’t like it. But the fans, hey, they support us. Throughout the whole league, they make it what it is.”

See more on the Wizards and other news from the Southeast Division:

Southeast Rumors: Winslow, Green, Magic

Justise Winslow has already shown signs of being a lockdown defender through the first seven games of his career, Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald reports. Navarro cites advanced metrics to illustrate Winslow’s prowess, pointing out that among players to defend at least 50 field goal attempts, the Heat small forward ranks tied for third in the league in defensive field goal percentage (32.8%). He’s also holding opponents to 21.1% shooting from 15 feet or deeper. “You always want to kind of be easy on the rookies, but he is raising the bar every game with his maturity and ability and knack to play defense,” Heat power forward Chris Bosh told Navarro. “I’ve never seen anything like it as long as I’ve been in this league from a rookie. He’s not making many mistakes. He’s playing solid defense. He’s already built like a tank. Him just being able to move his feet is helping us out a lot.”

In other news around the Southeast Division:

  • Gerald Green is expected to return to the Heat soon, a source told Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, even as the team remains tight-lipped about his status, other than to say that he’s safe and healthy. Green is reportedly out of the hospital following an incident last week that apparently left him bleeding and unconscious.
  • The pattern of NBA coaching tenures for Scott Skiles suggests he’ll help the Magic improve for a short while before wearing out his welcome and giving way to another coach who can take the next step, but none of his successors guided his old teams to championships, notes Steve Aschburner of NBA.com. Skiles has also had the opportunity to learn from his mistakes to better prepare for his latest gig, Aschburner writes.
  • Evan Fournier, a restricted free agent after the season, could determine the direction of the Magic franchise, Keith P. Smith of RealGM.com opines in a detailed examination of the team’s roster. Fournier, who failed to reach an rookie scale extension agreement with the club before the Nov. 2 deadline, is attacking the rim with greater force, finishing through contact and drawing more fouls this season, Smith continues. He’s also been very active as a perimeter defender and that’s why the swingman’s decision next summer could impact his team more than any other free agent besides Kevin Durant, Al Horford and Mike Conley, Smith adds.

Eastern Notes: Celtics, Nets, Hawks

The Nets are still feeling some negative effects from the team’s big acquisitions and moves in the past (Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, for example) and severely need help at the point guard position, Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com writes. The Nets are one of only three teams in the league that remain without a win. While it is obviously still early in the season, Mazzeo does not see a turnaround for the Nets in the near future with the way the roster is currently composed.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Celtics assigned power forward Jordan Mickey and shooting guard/small forward James Young Sunday to their D-League affiliate, the team announced in a press release. It is the second time the pair has been sent to Maine already this season. Young and Mickey were assigned to the D-League on Tuesday, but were sent back up to the Celtics later in the week. Mickey played three minutes in Friday’s NBA game while Young has yet to play this season.
  • Kent Bazemore, who is entering the final season of his current deal, has long been known as a defensive player, but the Hawks‘ new starting small forward is producing offensively as well so far this season, as Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution details.
  • Jason Smith, whom the Magic signed to a one-year, $4.3MM deal in July, has supplied Orlando with some energy and toughness, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel writes. Smith, as Robbins adds, has taken on a larger role since starting center Nikola Vucevic suffered an injury.

Southeast Notes: Green, Beal, Skiles

Gerald Green is “safe and healthy,” according to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who offered little else about the swingman who was hospitalized early Wednesday with an undisclosed illness, as Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald details. Sources told fellow Herald scribe Barry Jackson that the local rescue department in Miami requested assistance from police because of a “combative patient” at the address where Green lives, but the police didn’t write a report or make any arrests. A recording of a 911 call indicated that Green was unconscious and bleeding during the incident, Navarro relays. Green missed Tuesday’s game and isn’t with the team for Thursday’s game in Minnesota against the Timberwolves.
I talked to him today and he said he was doing better,” Dwyane Wade said, according to Navarro. “That’s all I can ask for.” Wade added that he and other Heat players still don’t know exactly what’s going on with Green but that they’re glad Mario Chalmers was with him when the incident took place, Navarro notes.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • It appears to be a good thing that the Wizards reportedly intend to re-sign Bradley Beal for the maximum next summer, seeing as the shooting guard certainly considers himself worthy of that sum, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post relays (on Twitter). When asked if he thinks he’s a max player, Beal responded, “Yeah. I do,” Castillo notes. The Wizards reportedly intend on utilizing their available cap space next summer prior to finalizing a new contract with Beal.
  • New Magic coach Scott Skiles has gotten the most out of his young team so far this season, and despite the team’s 1-4 start, the early returns have been positive, writes Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel. Swingman Evan Fournier‘s strong play has also been encouraging, but the downside is that it may be more difficult to re-sign him next summer when he is eligible to become a restricted free agent, Schmitz notes.
  • Hawks shooting guard Justin Holiday has made the most of his extra playing time as Thabo Sefolosha continues to work his way back from injury, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. “He’s gotten a couple of opportunities and has taken advantage of those opportunities,” coach Mike Budenholzer said of Holiday. “We went with him tonight without Kyle Korver suiting up. He got more minutes and more opportunities. I think it’s his defense, his activity and his length. He’s making some shots and making some plays. We’ve got a good group there with wings all fighting for opportunity.” Holiday inked a two-year, $1.963MM deal with Atlanta this past offseason.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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