Orlando Magic Rumors

Southeast Notes: Payne, Hornets, Harris

November 23 at 3:27pm CST By Zach Links

Heat rookie Shabazz Napier never had any doubt that he belongs in the NBA, writes Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel. “Even though Chris Paul is a guy I looked up to growing up, I just thought this was a chance for me to have a good opportunity to play against him and try my best,” Napier said after scoring 17 points against Paul in Thursday’s loss to the  Clippers. “I’m never in awe of anybody. I don’t let the moment get to me at all.” Napier entered the league with a reputation for confidence after leading Connecticut to the NCAA title last season.  Here’s more from the Southeast..

  • The Hawks have recalled Adreian Payne from the D-League, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter).  Payne was went down to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, an affiliate that they share with a dozen other teams, late last week.  The Michigan State product averaged 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds with 42.3% accuracy from behind the three-point line as a senior.
  • Even though they haven’t saved the Hornets from a disappointing start, coach Steve Clifford told Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer that he likes what he sees in the team’s three key offseason signees. Lance Stephenson, Marvin Williams and Brian Roberts joined the Hornets in the offseason in hopes of helping the team improve on last year’s No. 7 playoff seed. Charlotte has stumbled to a 4-9 start, but Clifford said his three newcomers need time to adjust to his system. “I think they’re all getting acclimated,” Clifford said. “All three of them I like. All three do things that can help us play better and win.”
  • The Magic’s Tobias Harris could always score, but he has responded to a challenge from the Orlando front office and coaching staff to expand his game, as John Denton of Magic.com details. Harris, a fourth-year player who will become a restricted free agent next summer, is doing his best to make a positive impression on the team. After getting 24 points, five steals, five rebounds and four assists in Monday’s win over the Pistons, he emphasized the victory over his individual accomplishments. “I’ve told all of the guys on the team, ‘You look better individually when we win as a team,’” Harris said. “So it really is all about winning.’’

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Aaron Gordon Out Up To Eight Weeks

November 21 at 5:27pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Aaron Gordon underwent successful surgery today to repair damage to the the fifth metatarsal in his left foot and will be out of action indefinitely, the Magic announced in a press release. Gordon will miss a minimum of six to eight weeks, at which time he will be re-evaluated, but the exact timetable for his return hinges on how well he responds to rehabilitation. The 6’9″ rookie out of Arizona fractured his foot during last Friday’s contest against the Wizards.

The injury to Gordon is among a rash of early season maladies that have sidelined a number of NBA stars, including Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, Ricky Rubio, and Marcus Smart. This injury is certainly a setback in the development of the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s NBA draft. Gordon is still trying to establish his NBA position, and has been used primarily at power forward, though he has the skillset to play small forward as well.

Gordon appeared in 11 games this season for Orlando, averaging 5.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 0.6 assists while logging 15.0 minutes per night. His slash line is .581/.500/.667.

Pacific Notes: Gay, Clippers, Kerr

November 20 at 11:59am CST By Chuck Myron

The Kings were in a position of power when DeMarcus Cousins signed his rookie scale extension last year, but Rudy Gay‘s decision to sign a veteran extension with the team this week is demonstrative of the strides the franchise has taken, as Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee examines.

“Obviously, when my contract was ending, I thought about going into free agency and maybe seeing what happens, but why search it when you have what you want right here?” Gay said.

Owner Vivek Ranadive and GM Pete D’Alessandro convinced the forward that the Kings were no longer the disorganized club that he’d heard stories about, Gay said, adding that having spent the offseason with Cousins helped influence his decision, too, Jones tweets. A bond with new point guard Darren Collison and comfort with the Sacramento community were also factors, Gay acknowledged, as fellow Bee scribe Ailene Voisin notes (Twitter link). There’s more on the Gay extension amid the latest from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers planned to re-sign Willie Green after waiving him this summer, but the Magic stymied that when they claimed him off waivers, writes Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. “We were not very happy with the Magic on that one,” Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers said.. “We just assumed that no one would pick him up. Willie’s one of those guys you just want around.” Rivers also said that Green can serve as an assistant coach for him after he retires, Woike notes.
  • Turning down Knicks president Phil Jackson to take the Warriors job instead was “probably the hardest thing that I had to do professionally,” Steve Kerr tells Michael Lee of The Washington Post. “He basically made my career. From my experience in Chicago, that allowed me to have the success to sign as a free agent in San Antonio, where I had another incredible experience. My career path, started with Lute Olson [at Arizona] … but Phil’s the guy who got me rolling and gave me all the opportunities that I have in front of me right now.”
  • The Gay extension was a positive step for the Kings, and one the team had to make to move toward playoff contention, Voisin opines.

And-Ones: Silver, Harris, Bryant, Celtics

November 13 at 10:12pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Commissioner Adam Silver fired back at union executive director Michele Roberts, who held up players as the linchpins of the league while calling the salary cap “incredibly un-American.” The NBA sent remarks from Silver to media, including John Schuhmann of NBA.com, just hours after Roberts made her comments, “We couldn’t disagree more with these statements,” Silver said. “The NBA’s success is based on the collective efforts and investments of all of the team owners, the thousands of employees at our teams and arenas, and our extraordinarily talented players. No single group could accomplish this on its own. Nor is there anything unusual or ‘un-American’ in a unionized industry to have a collective system for paying employees – in fact, that’s the norm.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Tobias Harris says his first choice would be to remain with the Magic in restricted free agency this summer, according to John Denton of Magic.com. A report Wednesday indicated that Harris has strong interest in signing with the Knicks, so perhaps New York is Plan B.
  • Kobe Bryant has the same amount of championship rings as Tim Duncan (five), but that doesn’t stop the Lakers star from being envious of how the Spurs have kept their core together for so many years, Dan McCarney of The San Antonio Express-News writes. Bryant told Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, “I’m extremely jealous of that. I don’t know if I can express to you how jealous I am of the fact that Tim [Duncan], Tony [Parker], Manu [Ginobili] and Pop [Gregg Popovich] have been together for all those years. Like, I can’t even. It would be like if me, Pau [Gasol], L.O. [Lamar Odom] and Phil [ Jackson], if we were all here still. It’s crazy.”
  • The Celtics were one of the teams reportedly interested in acquiring Kevin Love this past summer, but Boston wasn’t able to entice the Wolves into making a deal. Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com believes that with the way the franchise’s young core is performing it may end up being a blessing that no trade came to pass. Forsberg does add that the team still needs another star player to pair alongside Rajon Rondo, and Love would have certainly fit that bill.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Griffin, Lakers, Draft, Harris

November 12 at 7:45pm CST By Alex Lee

Clippers star forward Blake Griffin was officially charged with a misdemeanor count of battery today stemming from an October incident at a Las Vegas night club, reports Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times. We’re sure to hear more on this in the very near future. For now, though, let’s take a look at what else is happening around the league:

  • Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times provides some additional detail around the disabled player exception the Lakers were granted for Julius Randle on Monday, including a list of players that the team could pursue within the guidelines of the exception. In addition to the 15 players they could target via trade, Pincus also mentions Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor and Quincy Miller as free agents worth considering. Meanwhile, though it’s not Laker-specific, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders has compiled his own list of notable players that are still unsigned.
  • The crop of freshman talent in the 2015 draft class pales in comparison to last year’s group, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports hears. Utilizing opinions collected from various NBA scouts, Spears compiles his own top 10 prospect list which is topped by Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, Kentucky’s Karl Towns and Texas’ Myles Turner.
  • Orlando forward Tobias Harris reiterated his commitment to the Magic tonight when asked about the New York Post report from earlier today that indicated he’d have interest in joining the Knicks this offseason, reports John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com (via Twitter). Harris will be a restricted free agent next summer.

And-Ones: Howard, Waiters, Johnson, Pacers

November 12 at 4:22pm CST By Chuck Myron

Dwight Howard makes several candid comments in an EPIX.com documentary about his departure from the Magic, his year with the Lakers, and the 2013 back injury that one of his surgeons believes had a decent chance to end his career, notes Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Howard also delved into his relationship with Kobe Bryant.

“Before I got to the Lakers, I would talk to him [and] he would really help me out on the [down] low about how to become everything that I said I wanted to be. And I looked up to him and I looked up to everything he, as a basketball player, stood for,” Howard said, as Stein transcribes. “… [By the end of that season] I just felt so hurt and disappointed in the fact that the guy that I was expecting to be somebody who was gonna pass the torch, somebody to say, ‘Dwight, I’ll take you under my wing and I’ll show you how to get it done’ … it was none of that.”

Howard remains a fascinating figure even as his long-term deal with the Rockets has quieted the rumors that surrounded him. Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Cavs shopped Dion Waiters this past August but found no takers, according to Bradford Doolittle of ESPN.com, who writes in an Insider-only piece. That conflicts with a report from early August that indicated the Cavs weren’t trying to trade the shooting guard.
  • Ivan Johnson has drawn offers from NBA teams and clubs overseas, a source tells HoopsHype’s David Alarcón (Twitter link and translation). He plans to make a decision about whom to sign with in the next couple of weeks, Alarcón adds.
  • Frank Vogel believes Lance Stephenson would have chosen to re-sign with the Pacers if he’d known Paul George would suffer his broken leg, as Vogel tells Ian Thomsen of NBA.com. “I think he probably — and we probably — would have approached it differently,” Vogel said. “The money would have to have been right, and we would’ve had to figure that out. But he would have had much more incentive to stay.”

Tobias Harris Interested In Joining Knicks

November 12 at 8:57am CST By Chuck Myron

Tobias Harris has keen interest in signing with the Knicks next summer, a source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post. Harris is set for restricted free agency after the Magic failed to sign him to a rookie scale extension before last month’s deadline. Berman’s source points to the relationship that Harris, a Long Island native, has with Carmelo Anthony after the two worked out several times this past summer at Anthony’s gym in New York. Both Anthony and Harris are clients of the Creative Artists Agency.

An October report indicated that Harris would receive an “upgrade” in his shoe deal with Nike if he were to join a large-market team, though the NBA doesn’t permit players to receive any financial bonuses in their endorsement deals based on the teams that they play for. However, those contracts can give players a bump based on the number of national television appearances that their teams make.

The Magic have reportedly informed Harris’ camp that they’re likely to match any offers for the combo forward, who turns 23 in July. The same dispatch indicated that the Magic were eyeing salaries of around $9MM earlier this fall. Magic GM Rob Hennigan has said that he can’t imagine not keeping the former 19th overall pick, and Harris said at about the same time that he would like to stay in Orlando.

It’s unclear if the Knicks have strong interest in Harris. They have about $32.7MM in commitments for 2015/16, though that doesn’t count a nearly $6.34MM player option for J.R. Smith.

Eastern Notes: Cavs, Patterson, Wade

November 11 at 8:40pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders runs down some possible options the Cavs have to fortify their struggling roster. Given Cleveland’s proximity to the luxury tax line, their spending flexibility is somewhat limited, so Duncan isn’t convinced that extending Anderson Varejao was the right decision.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Earlier this week I ran down the highest paid players in the NBA and Kobe Bryant topped the list with his salary of $23.5MM for 2014/15. Chris Johnson of SI.com took a look at this same topic, but factored in taxes (city/state/Federal), NBPA fees, as well as the cuts that the players’ agents receive. According to Johnson’s new calculations the player who is actually taking home the most cash this season is the NetsJoe Johnson.
  • Patrick Patterson said that he was “very tempted” to sign with the Magic this past summer, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports reports (Twitter link). Orlando’s pitch tried to sell Patterson on an opportunity to be a starter, but in the end the forward wanted to play for a contending team, something re-signing with the Raptors gave him a much better chance at this season, notes Lewenberg.
  • Miami’s Dwyane Wade is much happier this season despite the Heat having lost LeBron James to the Cavs via free agency this past summer, Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald writes. This isn’t because of any issues Wade had with James, but now Wade gets to have the ball in his hands more often, notes Goodman, something that makes Wade more comfortable as a player.

Charlie Adams contributed to this post.

Offseason In Review: Orlando Magic

November 11 at 6:11pm CST By Eddie Scarito

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.

Signings

Extensions

Trades

  • Acquired 2014 pick No. 10 from the Sixers in exchange for 2014 pick No. 12, Orlando’s 2015 second-round pick, and Philadelphia’s 2017 first-round pick that the Sixers had given up in a previous trade.
  • Acquired Evan Fournier and 2014 pick No. 56 from the Nuggets in exchange for Arron Afflalo.
  • Acquired Anthony Randolph, the more favorable of Chicago’s and Portland’s 2015 second-round picks, the more favorable of Chicago’s and Portland’s 2016 second-round picks, and cash from the Bulls in exchange for the rights to Milovan Rakovic. Randolph was subsequently waived.

Waiver Claims

Draft Picks

  • Aaron Gordon (Round 1, 4th overall). Signed via rookie exception to rookie scale contract.
  • Elfrid Payton (Round 1, 10th overall). Signed via rookie exception to rookie scale contract.
  • Devyn Marble (2013, Round 2, 50th overall). Signed via cap room for three years, $2.71MM. Second and third years are non-guaranteed.

Camp Invitees

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

The Magic entered the offseason looking to continue onward with their plan of rebuilding through young, athletic talent. Orlando isn’t a realistic playoff contender for the 2014/15 campaign, despite playing in the Eastern Conference, nor do the Magic necessarily expect themselves to be in the postseason mix this season. Success this year will be measured more in player development rather than in the standings. With that mission in mind, the team’s offseason should be considered mostly a success.

NBA: Orlando Magic at Chicago BullsOrlando began the summer by agreeing to a trade with the Nuggets that sent Arron Afflalo back to Denver for the younger, cheaper Evan Fournier and a second-rounder. I must admit at first blush that I wasn’t a fan of the deal. Afflalo had two solid seasons in Orlando in which he averaged 16.5 and 18.2 points per game, respectively. His salary was extremely reasonable at $7.5MM with a player option for the same amount in 2015/16. So, there was no real need to get him off of the books, despite Orlando having a league leading $14,705,259 in dead money against the salary cap for this season.

But at second pass the deal makes complete sense given the team’s youth movement. The 29-year-old Afflalo has probably peaked as a player, and with the Magic a year or two away from the playoffs, he wasn’t likely to be a major contributor by the time the team made it to the postseason anyway. Fournier is only 22 years old, and his skill set is similar enough to Afflalo’s that he’ll slot in nicely to Orlando’s system. So far the move has worked out rather well, with Fournier averaging 16.0 PPG compared to Afflalo’s 10.8 PPG on 38.7% shooting.

When rebuilding around younger players, one of the most important aspects of the process after development is the retention of that talent and not letting another franchise reap the rewards of your coaching staff’s hard work. To this end, the team met with mixed results.

Orlando and Nikola Vucevic reached an agreement on a four-year, $53MM contract extension that will keep the seven-footer in the Magic Kingdom through the 2018/19 season. Vucevic had a solid 2013/14 campaign but didn’t quite show the improvement from the previous season that the franchise and its fans had hoped for, though injuries certainly played a part in that result. He’s still only 24 years old and hasn’t hit his prime, and the early returns this year are very encouraging with averages of 18.6 PPG and 12.3 RPG.

On the negative side of the equation, the Magic failed to come to terms with their young forward Tobias Harris. Though the 22-year-old has said that he wants to remain in Orlando, at least one report indicated that his eye is wandering. Also not helping Orlando’s cause is that Harris is playing like he’s in a contract year, putting up 16.7 points and 8.1 rebounds through the first seven contests. Harris will become a restricted free agent this summer, so the Magic will have an opportunity to match any offer sheet Harris signs, though if another team jumps in and is willing to overpay similar to the Mavericks’ deal with Chandler Parsons, I would speculate that Orlando would let Harris walk.

This year’s NBA Draft was a boon for the franchise, and landing both Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton laid the groundwork for some exciting basketball in the seasons to come. Gordon was a bit of a surprise at the fourth overall pick since a number of mock drafts, including DraftExpress, had Gordon going somewhere between the seventh and tenth picks. But his upside was too good to ignore, and he’s shown flashes of the player he can become even though he doesn’t have a well-defined position yet.

While I like the selection of Gordon, I absolutely love the team nabbing point guard Elfrid Payton as the fruit of a draft-night swap with the Sixers. Payton is far from a finished product, and his jump shot mechanics are a major work in progress. But as a ballhandler and distributor, he’s already NBA-caliber, though his 3.0 turnovers a game will need to be improved upon. The true value of Payton though is that he will allow the team’s star player, Victor Oladipo, to return to his natural shooting guard position. While Oladipo was serviceable at the point, he and the team will be much better served long-term if Oladipo doesn’t have to wear himself out being the primary ballhandler and having to play defense against the likes of Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook on a nightly basis.

This summer wasn’t all about youth for the Magic, and that’s where the team’s strategy showed some cracks. Signing Luke Ridnour to replace the departed Jameer Nelson as backup point guard was a decent signing, though Nelson’s leadership in the locker room will be missed. The second year of Ridnour’s deal is non-guaranteed, so the team limited its risk and allowed itself some flexibility moving forward.

The other two free agents the team added are a bit more puzzling to me. While Orlando didn’t guarantee the second year of its deal with Ben Gordon, a two-year, $9MM arrangement for an oft-injured aging veteran for whom there wasn’t stiff competition is a head-scratcher. But the four-year, $32MM fully guaranteed deal they gave to Channing Frye was downright confounding.

Stretch fours are all the rage in the league nowadays, but for a young rebuilding team like Orlando, Frye is an unneeded luxury, especially with the team having drafted Aaron Gordon, and also given the ability of Harris to fill that same role. Paying that stiff a price for a relatively one-dimensional player like Frye has all the earmarks of a contract that the team will regret in a year or two. This deal looks even worse to me when compared to the two-year, $14MM contract the Hornets inked with Marvin Williams.

Things will be brighter in Orlando in the coming seasons, and the franchise did well to extend Vucevic while making the most of draft night. Top free agents don’t see Orlando as a desirable free agent destination just yet, which may help explain the gross overpay for Frye. But with Oladipo, Vucevic, Payton, and Aaron Gordon, the franchise does have an exciting young core to build around.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post. Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: Waiters, Frye, Thomas, Powell

November 10 at 6:58pm CST By Arthur Hill

Dion Waiters may have been moved out of the starting lineup, but Cavaliers coach David Blatt tells Alex Kennedy of  Basketball Insiders that the third-year guard should think of himself as a “second starter.” “I just don’t like the term ‘bench player’ because I don’t think that’s what he is,” Blatt said. “He’s a player who plays important minutes in the game when we need them. To me, whether he begins the game [as a starter] or not is less significant. It’s about the minutes he plays and what he does in those minutes.” Still on his rookie contract, Waiters is under the Cavaliers’ control through the 2016/17 season.

Also in the Eastern Conference:

  • The Magic know what Channing Frye can do for them, but his new teammates don’t always know where he is, reports Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. “When I’m watching film, he’s open more times than he’s receiving the basketball,” lamented Magic coach Jacque  Vaughn. “That’s just guys not knowing where he’s going to be yet, not knowing how the defense is going to play him.” The growing pains are to be expected for the Magic, who brought in eight new players during the offseason. Frye, a big man with three-point range, came to Orlando as a free agent, signing for $32MM over four years.
  • Malcolm Thomas, who was waived Monday by the Sixers, has opted to undergo knee surgery, according to Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com. Thomas, who was playing about 14 minutes per game, suffered a left knee effusion and will be out of action for four to five weeks.
  • The CelticsDwight Powell has no complaints about his short stint in the D-League, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. Powell, who was recalled by the Celtics Monday, scored 29 points in a Maine Red Claws scrimmage. “It’s very important for me or any player really, to work on your skills,” Powell said. “I’m glad I was able to get down there.”  Powell came to Boston this summer as part of a three-team deal with the Nets and Cavaliers. He has yet to appear in a regular-season game for the Celtics.