Orlando Magic

Magic GM Talks Expectations, Offseason Moves

It was an eventful offseason for the Magic, who traded former second overall pick Victor Oladipo and the No. 11 selection in this year’s draft in a deal for Serge Ibaka, then landed Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Green, and D.J. Augustin in free agency, while signing Evan Fournier to a lucrative new extension.

Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel sat down with Magic general manager Rob Hennigan to discuss the team’s offseason moves, expectations for the coming season, and a handful of other topics. The whole conversation is worth reading, particularly for Magic fans, but here are a few of Hennigan’s comments from the discussion:

On expectations for the Magic in 2016/17:

“I think first and foremost our expectation is that we’ll cement an identity for ourselves as a smart, physical, unselfish, defensive-minded team. And we expect to make the playoffs. … I prefer not to [predict a win total] just because I’m not sure how relevant that is. What’s important is getting into the playoffs.”

On whether there will be enough minutes to go around for Ibaka, Biyombo, and Nikola Vucevic:

“We think there are, and we think that’s going to sort itself out with our team’s play and their individual play. What’s important to us is making sure that we’re winning games and that our collective mindset is just that. We don’t see that as a threat. If anything, we see that as a strength.”

On whether the Magic have enough shooting:

“You can never have enough shooting, right? But we’re confident we’ll be a better shooting team this season. I think we’ve improved our perimeter shooting and our ability to make shots from distance since last season both with the additions we made in D.J. Augustin and Jodie Meeks and C.J. Wilcox and Serge Ibaka and also the internal shooting development of Elfrid [Payton] and Mario [Hezonja] and Aaron [Gordon] and Evan and Nik. So we feel like we’ve improved in that area, and we’ll continue to look to improve in that area. But we certainly don’t see it as much of a weakness heading into the year.”

On the Ibaka trade:

“I’ve always talked about being opportunistic and I think that trade was emblematic of an opportunity we felt was available to us to accelerate the progress of the team. Again, we’re always going to do what we feel is in the best interests of the organization. We’re trying to win. We’re also trying to make sure we can continue to build in a fashion that will allow us to be competitive for a long time. All of that has fallen under the umbrella of seeking out opportunities and making sure that we’re responsible in whatever decisions we make.”

On adding depth throughout the roster this offseason:

“We made it a priority this summer to ensure that we have competition at all positions across the board. That will be the first time we’ve had that since this rebuilding began. We see that as a healthy dynamic and as something that will make all of our players better. I think if you ask the players, that’s how they want it to be: really having a competitive daily situation to earn minutes.”

Latest On Jodie Meeks

Magic guard Jodie Meeks is progressing well in his recovery from a mid-July surgery to stabilize the fifth metatarsal in his right foot, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel relays. Meeks will likely be available to play at some point in November, a team official told Robbins, though his exact return date will depend on how well he continues to progress.

Meeks had fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot in the Pistons’ second regular-season game last year. That injury essentially cost him the entire 2015/16 season, with the player undergoing surgery in late October and not suiting up again until Detroit’s final regular season contest. Meeks wasn’t part of the team’s playoff rotation and the Pistons traded him to Orlando in late June. The 29-year-old then underwent a second surgery on July 19th, despite passing his required physical as part of the swap, as Robbins notes.

Orlando will be counting on Meeks to provide a boost with his outside shooting this season, an area the team is sorely lacking in, Robbins adds. The former second-round pick, No. 41 overall in the 2009 NBA Draft, owns a career 37.3% mark from beyond the three-point line. Through 418 career regular season games, Meeks has notched averages of 9.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists. He is in the final year of his current deal and will earn $6,540,000 in 2016/17.

Alex Davis Will Return To D-League

Alex Davis, who played for one of the Magic’s summer league teams, has committed to return to the D-League this season, tweets international basketball writer David Pick. Davis will join Orlando’s D-League affiliate, the Erie Bay Hawks.

The 6’9″ forward appeared in 50 games for Erie last season, averaging 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per night.

The 24-year-old, who played college ball at Fresno State, was part of the Orlando White team in the Orlando Summer League. He averaged 5.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in five games.

Traded Second-Round Picks For 2017 NBA Draft

The 2017 NBA draft is still more than nine months away, but with the start of the regular season fast approaching, it’s worth taking stock of how this season’s results will affect next year’s draft. Depending on how certain teams perform during the 2016/17 campaign, other clubs will have the opportunity to pick up an extra selection or two.

Earlier this week, we looked at the first-round picks that could change hands during the 2017 draft. A few more first-rounders will likely be involved in trades prior to the trade deadline, or leading up to next year’s draft night, but there are already several picks that are ticketed for new teams, depending on where they land.

That’s even more true of the second round — more than half of the league’s second-round picks for 2017 have been involved in trades so far, and while some of those picks will ultimately remain with the sending teams due to protection conditions, many will move to the receiving teams.

Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the second-round picks that could (or will) change hands. For each selection, we make a note of which team is sending and receiving it, the protection or conditions on the pick, and what will happen if the protection language prevents the pick from being conveyed. For instance, the Heat will send their second-rounder to either the Hawks or Grizzlies, depending on where it lands. The team that doesn’t get a pick from Miami this year will get the Heat’s second-rounder in 2018.

Here are 2017’s traded second-round picks:

Atlanta Hawks

  • From: Brooklyn Nets
  • Protection: None

Atlanta Hawks

  • From: Miami Heat
  • Protection: 31-40
  • If not conveyed: Hawks will receive Heat’s 2018 second-rounder (unprotected).

Boston Celtics

  • From: Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Protection: None

Boston Celtics

  • From: Los Angeles Clippers
  • Protection: None

Boston Celtics

  • From: Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Protection: None

Brooklyn Nets

  • From: Boston Celtics
  • Conditions: Nets will receive pick (protected 31-45) if Celtics swap first-rounders with Nets.
  • If not conveyed: Celtics’ obligation to Nets is extinguished.

Brooklyn Nets

  • From: Indiana Pacers
  • Protection: 45-60
  • If not conveyed: Nets will have opportunity to get Pacers’ second-rounder (protected 45-60) in 2018.

Denver Nuggets

  • From: Memphis Grizzlies
  • Protection: 31-35
  • If not conveyed: Nuggets will receive Grizzlies’ 2018 second-rounder (unprotected).

Denver Nuggets

  • From: Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Protection: 31-35
  • If not conveyed: Nuggets will receive Thunder’s 2018 second-rounder (unprotected).

Houston Rockets

  • From: Denver Nuggets
  • Protection: None

Houston Rockets

  • From: Portland Trail Blazers
  • Protection: None

Memphis Grizzlies

  • From: Miami Heat
  • Protection: 41-60
  • If not conveyed: Grizzlies will receive Heat’s 2018 second-rounder (unprotected).

New Orleans Pelicans

  • From: Philadelphia 76ers
  • Protection: None

New York Knicks

  • From: Chicago Bulls
  • Protection: None

New York Knicks

  • From: Houston Rockets
  • Protection: None

Philadelphia 76ers

  • From: Two of Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, and Utah Jazz.
  • Conditions: Sixers will receive the most and least favorable of these four picks.

Utah Jazz

  • From: Two of Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, and Utah Jazz.
  • Conditions: Jazz will receive the second- and third-most favorable of these four picks, including their own.

The following teams technically acquired second-round draft picks via trade and could receive those selections in 2017. However, these picks are heavily protected and won’t be conveyed to the receiving team unless the sending team finishes with a top-five record in the NBA. If that doesn’t happen, the receiving team is out of luck. The details:

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • From: New Orleans Pelicans
  • Protection: 31-55
  • If not conveyed: Pelicans’ obligation to Timberwolves is extinguished.

Orlando Magic

  • From: Sacramento Kings
  • Protection: 31-55
  • If not conveyed: Kings’ obligation to Magic is extinguished.

San Antonio Spurs

  • From: Atlanta Hawks
  • Protection: 31-55
  • If not conveyed: Hawks’ obligation to Spurs is extinguished.

RealGM’s database of future traded pick details was used in the creation of this post.

Will Ibaka Bring A Winning Culture?

  • Serge Ibaka may help bring a winning culture to the Magic, writes Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders in a preseason look at Orlando. Ibaka, who was acquired from the Thunder in a June deal involving Victor Oladipo, was part of a very successful team in Oklahoma City and will give the Magic the rim protector they have needed since they lost Dwight Howard. However, many of the Basketball Insiders writers were confused by Orlando’s offseason moves and are concerned that they don’t have enough scorers to be a contender.

Magic Should Be Improved Defensively

  • After adding a number of veterans this offseason, the Magic aren’t necessarily more talented than they were a season ago, but their current roster should be smarter and better defensively, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes in his season preview of Orlando. The scribe does question the team’s logic in trading away Tobias Harris and adding Jeff Green for roughly the same salary, even if Green’s deal is only for one season.

And-Ones: Fredette, Alexander, Hunter

Jimmer Fredette, who signed a one-year deal to play for the Shanghai Sharks in China, is disappointed he isn’t playing in the NBA this season, but looks at his overseas trek as the next chapter in his career, Dick Harmon of The Deseret News writes. “I’m anxious to get it started,” Fredette said. “It is very similar to an NBA style of play with the Sharks,” Fredette said. “And in a city three times the size of New York City, it will be a lot of fun. I can’t imagine a city that size after being in New York last year.

The guard hopes his experience overseas will make him a better player and help him land another NBA shot in the future, Harmon relays. “I just want to get better. My goal is to improve everything I do,” Fredette said. “As an American, they want you to go over there and score the basketball, to be free and play your game and try to produce. That’s my game, to be aggressive, to score, make the right play. I think it will continue to grow my confidence and get me prepared for my future.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Magic training camp signee Cliff Alexander is a decent pick-and-roll player, has good hands and is physical around the rim and in the paint area, NBA.com’s Josh Cohen opines in his analysis of the player. The 20-year-old will compete for one of the remaining two regular season roster spots in Orlando during the preseason.
  • LeBron James, James Jones and Chris Paul have been served with notices of deposition in former NBA players’ union executive director Billy Hunter’s wrongful termination lawsuit against the NBPA, Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN.com reports. Paul is the union president, James serves as vice president and Jones as secretary treasurer. Hunter is suing the NBPA for $10.5 million in addition to attorney’s fees, for compensation he allegedly did not receive after his ouster in February 2013, Strauss notes.
  • The Bulls, who completely overhauled their roster this offseason, could struggle mightily this season if the team is unable to get consistent production from its reserves, Bobby Marks of The Vertical opines in his look back at Chicago’s summer.

Mario Hezonja Changes Agents

Magic forward Mario Hezonja has made a change to his representation, according to a report from SportsBusiness Journal. Having previously been represented by Wasserman, Hezonja has hired Creative Artists Agency to represent him going forward, per SBJ.

The fifth overall pick in 2015, Hezonja had a somewhat underwhelming rookie season, averaging just 6.1 PPG and 2.2 RPG in 79 contests for the Magic. However, he’s also only 21 years old, and will be given plenty of time to develop in Orlando.

The Magic will have to make a decision on Hezonja’s 2017/18 team option by October 31, and it’s virtually a lock that the club will exercise that $4.078MM option. Assuming Orlando also picks up the Croatian’s fourth-year option next year, Hezonja will become eligible for an extension for the first time in the summer of 2018. So barring a disappointing 2016/17 performance, or a surprising decision by the Magic, CAA likely won’t be negotiating a new contract for its new client for at least a couple more years.

Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer recently examined how the Magic might use Hezonja in his sophomore season, and how much patience the team will have with him, noting that some of Orlando’s recent veteran additions could eat into Hezonja’s minutes.

Magic Add Six Camp Invitees To Roster

SEPTEMBER 8: The Magic officially confirmed that they’ve signed the six players listed below (Twitter link).

SEPTEMBER 7: The Magic entered the day with just 13 players on their roster, but will add six more names to that list with a group of training camp invitees. According to Brian K. Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel (via Twitter), the Magic are bringing the following six players to camp:

  • Cliff Alexander, F/C: Alexander signed with the Blazers as an undrafted rookie out of Kansas last July, but only saw action in eight games for the club during the 2015/16 season, playing a total of 36 minutes. He was waived in July before his 2016/17 salary became guaranteed.
  • Branden Dawson, F: Waived by the Clippers in July, Dawson faced felony domestic violence charges earlier this year, but the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office didn’t pursue those charges, due to insufficient evidence. On the court, the 2015 second-rounder out of Michigan State appeared in just six games for the Clippers, spending most of the season in the D-League.
  • Nick Johnson, G: The 42nd overall pick in the 2014 draft, Johnson spent a year with Houston, appearing in 28 games for the team. He was sent to Denver in last year’s Ty Lawson trade, and was subsequently waived by the Nuggets, eventually landing with the D-League’s Austin Spurs for 34 games.
  • Kevin Murphy, G: Since being selected by the Jazz in the second round of the 2012 draft and playing 17 games in his rookie season, Murphy has bounced around, spending time with three D-League teams, as well as in China and Japan.
  • Arinze Onuaku, F/C: Although he appeared in regular-season games for three different teams – New Orleans, Cleveland, and Minnesota – from 2013 to 2015, Onuaku saw action in just 11 total contests. The former Syracuse big man spent time with teams in Israel and the Phillippines last season.
  • Damjan Rudez, F: Rudez’ training camp invite from the Magic was first reported last month. The 30-year-old Croatian saw a decent amount of playing time in Indiana during his first NBA season in 2014/15, averaging 15.4 minutes in 68 regular-season contests for the Pacers. However, he was traded to the Timberwolves last July in a deal for Chase Budinger, and never carved out a consistent role in Minnesota last season. The Wolves declined their team option on his contract in June.

Contract details on the Magic’s new additions aren’t yet known, but the team is over the cap and short-term, minimum-salary deals seem likely. Orlando does still have its $2.898MM room exception available if it needs to offer more than the minimum to secure a player’s services.

With 13 guaranteed contracts on their books, the Magic could be looking to fill two more roster spots for the regular season, with the players listed above vying for those openings.

Aaron Gordon On: Vogel, New Additions, Offseason

Aaron Gordon, who was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, is entering his third season in the league despite being just 20 years old. The forward sat down with Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders to discuss a number of topics regarding himself and the Magic. We’ve relayed a number of the highlights of the chat below, but the entire piece is certainly worth a look:

On how the league’s new emphasis on positional versatility has benefited him:

Oh man, it’s huge. We can play small, we can play big. I can play the two, the three or the four, and it all depends on what my coach sees. He’ll say, ‘Aaron, we have an advantage at the four, go get him.’ The foundation is defense though. If you can’t guard the position, you can’t play the position. I’m able to guard all of those positions so therefore I can play them and it opens things up.

On what new head coach Frank Vogel will expect from him:

I think he wants me to do a whole lot of everything, from defending to distributing to scoring. We’re going to need to score the ball this year and I’m looking to take on a bigger scoring role. Defensively, I want to guard the best player on the other team every night. These are things that I want, but they are also things I want from my teammates. I want them to say, ‘No, I want to guard the best player.’ And we have those type of players. Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Green, EP [Elfrid Payton] are guys who would love to do that. They all want that challenge and I love playing with guys like that. It’s always team-first with me and I’m going to do whatever I can to help my team win.

On the Magic’s veteran offseason additions:

It’s just exciting to me. I’ve always trusted [GM] Rob Hennigan and I’ve always trusted [assistant GM] Scott Perry. To me, it validates my trust in them. They made moves that other people couldn’t have made. They were confident, aggressive moves. Now, it’s on us. We’re ready to play. We have the coach, the staff, the players, the organization. We have a foundation of players who have been there and been through the losing, and now it’s time to start winning.

On what he worked on this offseason:

My training regimen has been absolutely hectic. I’ve being doing two-a-days and three-a-days to try to get ready for the season. I’m ready. I’ve been ready. I was ready the day that we lost to Charlotte on our last day of the season – I wanted to start another 82 games right then. I knew that it couldn’t happen, but I wanted it. Now, I’ve taken this offseason to work on my ball-handling, passing, shooting. Also, being able to shoot over defenders’ hands when they’re closing out on threes or being able to take one dribble and rise to pull up over everybody. I’ve been working on making decisions out of the pick-and-roll. I know with with Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka, I’m going to have a roll guy and a pop guy. And with Vooch [Nikola Vucevic], I’ll have a little bit of both – a guy who can roll and pop. It’s going to be on me to either score off of the pick-and-roll or make the right read to get the ball to my guy in the best spot. I’m ready.

On what he feels his ceiling as a player is:

It’s really hard to say. It really is. I think if I continue to work diligently and I’m smart about it… One of my problems is that I work a little bit too hard and come game time, my body isn’t ready. This year, I was able to take [time] off and make sure my body was ready for 82 games. If I stay healthy… When I stay healthy and when I stay in the present, I think my potential is limitless. I basically get to decide how great I can be.

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