Orlando Magic Rumors

Eastern Notes: D-League, Jenkins, Magic

October 31 at 7:31pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Chris Babb, Tim Frazier, Rodney McGruder and Christian Watford are joining the Celtics D-League affiliate, the team announced (Twitter links). The Celtics are using their ability to retain the D-League rights to up to four camp cuts to keep Frazier, McGruder and Watford out of the D-League draft, but they don’t have to do so with Babb, since he played for Boston’s D-League team last season.

Here’s more from the east:

  • The Magic‘s D-League team has signed Seth Curry, Peyton Siva, Kadeem Batts and Drew Crawford, the club announced, meaning Orlando used all four of its available spots to keep the D-League rights to the foursome, whom the Magic waived during camp last week.
  • The first two years of Anderson Varejao‘s extension with the Cavs are fully guaranteed with the third year being a team option, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link).
  • Varejao will make $9,638,554 the first year; $10,361,446 the second year of the deal, with $9.36MM guaranteed; and the third season is set at $10MM,  Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). If Varejao is on the Cavs‘ roster past August 1st, 2017 then $4.5MM of the third year will become guaranteed, adds Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • John Jenkins admitted he’s upset that the Hawks decided to decline his rookie scale team option for 2015/16, but he called it “part of the game” and a potential blessing in disguise, observes Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • While it’s still a bit too early in the season for any coaches to truly be on the hot seat just yet, Fran Blinebury of NBA.com takes a look at eight coaches who are under the most pressure this year, including David Blatt (Cavs), Mike Budenholzer (Hawks), and Derek Fisher (Knicks).

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Extension Unlikely For Tobias Harris, Magic

October 31 at 1:49pm CDT By Chuck Myron

OCTOBER 31ST: The Harris camp has tried to revive talks, but the Magic aren’t biting, according to Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link).

OCTOBER 28TH: The Magic made an offer to Harris last month and the two sides haven’t engaged in talks since, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter).  Things can always change, but Kennedy says it’s unlikely that they will and Harris appears headed for restricted free agency (link).

OCTOBER 24TH, 5:31pm: The league doesn’t permit financial incentives in outside endorsement contracts that pertain to playing for specific teams, but it does allow for bonuses tied to the number of national television appearances a player makes, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders clarifies (Twitter link). Large-market teams usually show up more often on national TV than their small-market counterparts, though the quality of the on-court product has recently proven more influential than market size in network programming decisions.

1:19pm: Tobias Harris is eligible for a rookie scale extension with the Magic, but he doesn’t intend to sign one before the deadline to do so a week from today, tweets Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. The forward’s deal with Nike gives him an “upgrade” if he’s playing for a team in Los Angeles, New York or Chicago, according to Broussard. Harris is set for restricted free agency in the summer assuming he doesn’t sign an extension.

Harris nonetheless said recently he wanted to remain in Orlando, and Magic GM Rob Hennigan has indicated his preference to do an extension. The Henry Thomas client and the team were reportedly still in talks as of a week ago, shortly before the Magic struck a deal with fellow extension-eligible Nikola Vucevic. Hennigan said earlier this month that he couldn’t imagine the club not holding on to the 22-year-old, and Orlando will have the right to match all offers should Harris hit restricted free agency.

Vucevic’s extension pushed the Magic’s commitments for 2015/16 to about $26.1MM, though Orlando is about to add nearly $12.755MM in rookie scale team options to that figure. Still, that’s plenty of room beneath a projected $66.5MM salary cap for a Harris extension. The math gets trickier in the future, since the Magic have six players still within the first three seasons of their rookie scale contracts. Orlando’s payroll probably would escalate quite a bit if it were to retain all or most of them, forcing the team to make difficult decisions. Drastic rises in the cap tied to the league’s new $24 billion TV deal that starts in 2016 will help ease that blow, however.

I predicted in July that Harris and the Magic wouldn’t reach an extension, explaining as I looked at his extension candidacy that the team figured to prioritize flexibility and a commitment to Vucevic, who plays at a position of greater scarcity. It appears instead that the primary resistance to a deal is coming from the player rather than the Magic. The Knicks and Lakers are nonetheless the only teams set up for significant cap room next summer among the clubs that would presumably trigger the clauses in Harris’ shoe deal, and he’s not alone among potential targets for those franchises.

And-Ones: Hornets, Celtics, D-League

October 29 at 10:33pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The contracts of Alonzo Gee (Nuggets) and James Ennis (Heat) both became fully guaranteed today, and a partial guarantee of $250K has kicked in for Dewayne Dedmon (Magic), since both Dedmon and Ennis were on their teams’ respective rosters come opening night, and Gee was still on his team’s roster past October 29th, as is shown on our schedule of contract guarantee dates.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Celtics look to improve upon their 25-win season of a year ago, and began their quest at home tonight with a 121-105 victory over the Nets. In his season preview, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com believes Boston’s outlook has improved, and Rajon Rondo will have a strong season as he looks to silence his doubters and maximize his value heading into next summer.
  • In a separate article, Blakely looks at the top five players who changed teams and donned new uniforms this summer. Blakely also examined the five best rookies making their debuts this season, including Elfrid Payton, Jabari Parker, and Marcus Smart.
  • Hornets owner Michael Jordan believes that the addition of Lance Stephenson gives his team a legitimate shot to contend in the Eastern Conference, the Associated Press reports. Jordan especially likes Stephenson’s “fight,” saying, “One of the reasons why I admire his game is he takes on challenges. For us to get any place in the East, we need someone to challenge LeBron. He challenged LeBron.”
  • Former Sixers coach Larry Brown slammed the organization’s rebuilding through “tanking” plan, John N. Mitchell of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “I hate what’s going on in Philly,” Brown said. “They don’t have a basketball person in the organization. It makes me sick to my stomach.”
  • Malcolm Turner of Wasserman Media Group has been hired as the president of the NBA D-League, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link).
  • Roger Mason has been hired as the NBPA’s director of player relations, Howard Beck of Bleacher Report tweets. It is unclear if accepting this position would prevent Mason from continuing his playing career. The 34-year-old Mason made 25 appearances for the Heat last season, averaging 3.0 PPG in 10.4 minutes-per-game.

Magic Pick Up 2015/16 Options On Four

October 26 at 2:11pm CDT By Chuck Myron

OCTOBER 26TH: The Magic confirmed that they have exercised the options via press release.

OCTOBER 20TH: The Magic will exercise their team options to keep Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson on their rookie scale contracts through 2015/16, tweets Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. The moves have been widely expected, as Robbins suggests. Oladipo’s nearly $5.2MM salary for that season is the most expensive of the bunch. Harkless will make nearly $2.9MM, Nicholson almost $2.4MM, and Fournier close to $2.3MM, as our Rookie Scale Team Option Tracker shows.

Oladipo, the No. 2 overall pick in 2013, earned an All-Rookie First Team selection last season even as the Magic experimented with having the shooting guard play point guard. Fournier spent the past two seasons with the Nuggets and saw his minutes jump to 19.8 per game last season before Denver shipped him to Orlando in the Arron Afflalo trade. Harkless also came to Orlando via trade as part of the package the team sent out for Dwight Howard, though the production of the small forward took a step back last year. Nicholson also saw a dip in his scoring output as an NBA sophomore in 2013/14, though he, like Harkless, was a rotation mainstay.

Picking up the options on all four will give Orlando nearly $12.755MM on top of the meager $14.87MM in commitments the team already had on the books for 2015/16. That leaves plenty of room for extensions with Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris, deals that the team is working toward, though the preponderance of rookie scale contracts on the Magic’s ledger will force GM Rob Hennigan to be cautious as he commits long-term money.

And-Ones: Oladipo, Jordan, Bryant

October 25 at 10:30pm CDT By Cray Allred

There are a number of young up-and-coming small forwards in the league. John Zitzler of Basketball Insiders profiles the ones he thinks will have breakout seasons in 2014/15. Here’s more from around the league:

  • Victor Oladipo underwent surgery to repair a facial fracture and is expected to be out for a month, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The Magic guard said that the surgery went well and vowed to come back strong in a pair of tweets.
  • $100K of Jerome Jordan‘s minimum salary was locked in today, as he remained on the roster beyond the partial guarantee date, as noted on the updated Nets salary sheet maintained by Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.
  • The Nets used their trade exception of $788,872 to receive Casper Ware‘s $816,482 contract in the trade that sent Marquis Teague to the Sixers, tweets Pincus. The incoming salary is allowed to exceed the exception within $100K. The Nets created a new exception equivalent to Teague’s salary, as we noted last night.
  • If Kobe Bryant has indeed scared away potential free agents, then Lakers management is to blame for the state of the franchise, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com writes. One league executive tells Berger, “They’re [the Lakers] the ones that gave him a $48MM extension knowing that nobody wanted to play with him. And they were also the ones that gave away multiple first-round picks for an over-the-hill Steve Nash. Not to mention firing every coach that Magic [Johnson] decided he didn’t like.”
  • The WarriorsKlay Thompson has two outspoken allies in his quest for a contract extension, writes Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group. Thompson’s father Mychal, a former NBA player, has insisted that his son is worth a maximum-salary extension. The senior Thompson’s opinion was echoed earlier this week by former Warriors coach and current ESPN broadcaster Mark Jackson. “It’s good to hear from guys like that because they both played in the NBA, and both were successful in the NBA and [have] been around the game for so many decades,” Klay Thompson said. “So if they think I’m that quality type of player, it makes me think highly of myself as well.”

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Magic Waive Batts, Crawford, Curry, Siva

October 25 at 4:31pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Magic have waived Kadeem Batts, Drew Crawford, Seth Curry and Peyton Siva, the team announced via press release. The moves bring Orlando’s roster to the regular season maximum of 15 players, so the Magic don’t have to make any more cuts. All four had small partial guarantees that add up to $425K, so that total will stick on the team’s books for the season assuming they go unclaimed on waivers. Orlando’s other 15 contracts are fully guaranteed.

Siva has the most NBA experience of the foursome, having played 24 games last season with the Pistons, who made him the 56th overall pick in 2013. The report of his deal with the team over the summer indicated the Magic brought him on board to secure his D-League rights more so than to have him make a run at a regular season roster spot, and presumably that’s the case with all four of today’s cuts. Siva’s partial guarantee is worth $100K.

Batts has the largest partial guarantee, worth $150K, though he has a low profile, having gone undrafted out of Providence this year. He averaged 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 19.7 minutes per game across four preseason games with the Magic. Curry has brief NBA experience from a short stint with the Grizzlies last season as well as a 10-day contract with the Cavs. He only played in one game at each stop, however. Curry, the brother of Stephen Curry, had a partial guarantee for $100K. Crawford only had $75K guaranteed. The son of NBA referee Danny Crawford went undrafted out of Northwestern this year and didn’t appear in a preseason game for the Magic.

Southeast Notes: Stephenson, Nelson, Wizards

October 24 at 12:00pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Magic have more money that counts against the cap for players who are no longer with the team than any other NBA franchise this season, notes Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. That $14.2MM figure is likely to escalate soon with partial guarantees out to four of the team’s camp invitees. It also doesn’t include the cash going to the amnestied Gilbert Arenas, which doesn’t affect the cap. Still, Orlando isn’t alone, since “dead money” is piling up around the league as teams make cuts in advance of opening night. There’s more on the Magic amid the latest from the Southeast Division:

  • Lance Stephenson admits he wanted to re-sign with the Pacers, but he told Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star that he wasn’t ready to commit when the team set a tight deadline for him to accept its offer. The team quickly moved on and struck a deal with C.J. Miles on the second day of free agency, depleting its limited room against the luxury tax line, and that sealed Stephenson’s departure, as the new Hornets guard said to Buckner. “They didn’t have nothing else. They had no more money or anything. That was basically it right there,” Stephenson said. “Soon as I said no to that offer, they went and signed C.J. I figured they thought I had no chance of coming back, they just went on and signed C.J. … I felt like it was a wrap after that.”
  • The Pacers did follow up their five-year, $44MM offer to Stephenson with offers of three and four years, Buckner writes, refuting an earlier report.
  • Jameer Nelson‘s agent, Steve Mountain, said as recently as June that the point guard wanted to remain with the Magic for this season, but Nelson tells Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com that he instead felt it was time to leave Orlando. The Mavs signee referred to his departure from the Magic, who waived him at the end of June, as a mutual decision.
  • Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld doesn’t think the lack of a one-to-one D-League affiliate significantly hinders his team, but he nonetheless told Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post that the Wizards are looking into the possibility of having a D-League partner for future seasons.

Magic Sign Nikola Vucevic To Extension

October 23 at 3:43pm CDT By Alex Lee

THURSDAY, 3:43pm: Vucevic has signed the extension and the deal is official, the team has announced.

7:11pm: The base salary of the deal is for $48MM with incentives that could push it to $53MM, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (via Twitter).

TUESDAY, 6:21pm: The Magic are finalizing a four-year, $53MM contract extension with Nikola Vucevic, reports Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. The year-by-year salary breakdown is the only detail still up in the air, according to Robbins (via Twitter). The pact does not include any opt out clauses and will thus keep him in Orlando through the 2018/19 season. The 23-year-old Montenegrin is a former first round pick entering his fourth season in the NBA, which gave the Magic until October 31 to come to an agreement that would prevent him from becoming a restricted free agent next summer. Vucevic is scheduled to make $2.751MM this season in the final year of his rookie deal.

Vucevic exploded in 2012/13 after coming over from Philadelphia in the Dwight Howard blockbuster. He averaged 13.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per game in his sophomore season, making him the league’s second leading rebounder behind Howard. While Vucevic was again excellent last season, his overall numbers seemed to plateau more than an improving young player’s should in his third year, as our Chuck Myron pointed out in Vucevic’s entry in our Extension Candidate series. Chuck also predicted a four-year, $48MM pact for the center in our 2014 Rookie Scale Extension Primer.

We heard in July that the Magic would prioritize extending Vucevic and teammate Tobias Harris, also entering his fourth season, once the season approached. Those rumors proved true even before tonight’s news broke, as there was neutral interest reported last month and  just last week there was word that Vucevic and the Magic were in talks.

Eastern Notes: Pierce, Vucevic, Stephenson

October 22 at 12:37pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Paul Pierce figures coach Jason Kidd‘s departure from the Nets helped dampen the team’s enthusiasm to re-sign the forward to a new deal this summer, as Pierce tells reporters, including Andy Vasquez of The Record. Pierce cites Kidd as one of the primary reasons he encouraged the Celtics to trade him to Brooklyn in 2013, as Vasquez notes. There’s more on key figures who changed places as well as one who’s committed to stay where he is among the news from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Nikola Vucevic is careful to point out that he hasn’t put pen to paper on an extension with the Magic, but he nonetheless made it clear that he’s ecstatic about the agreement that agent Rade Filipovich and the team have reached, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel details.
  • Representatives for Lance Stephenson urged the Pacers to offload other players to find room for the shooting guard under the tax line this summer, with the names of Luis Scola and Donald Sloan arising in the talks, but Indiana held firm against doing so, reports Shams Charania of RealGM. The Alberto Ebanks client has said he cried when he told the Pacers he was signing with the Hornets instead, but Stephenson tells Charania that he hasn’t spoken to Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird since he made up his mind to join Charlotte.
  • Charania also hears from a source who confirms that Jason Maxiell is the leading contender for a regular season roster spot among the Hornets camp invitees, as the RealGM scribe writes in the same piece. Coach Steve Clifford seems in favor of keeping Maxiell, writes Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
  • Christian Watford will play for the Celtics‘ D-League affiliate assuming he clears NBA waivers, reports David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link). That means the C’s are following through on their plan to keep Watford’s D-League rights, though Pick hears that the power forward turned down many offers from European teams to instead go to the D-League.
  • Phil Jackson shared his scouting report on every Knicks player with Charley Rosen, writing for ESPN.com. The coach-turned-executive admits camp invitees Langston Galloway and Travis Wear are destined for the D-League.

Pacific Notes: Hill, Price, Thomas

October 22 at 11:04am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Clippers tied for third among the teams most likely to win the NBA title as the league’s GMs see it, as John Schuhmann of NBA.com details amid the results of the league’s annual GM survey. Still, they figure to receive a strong challenge in their own division from the Warriors. While we wait to see how it plays out, here’s the latest from the Pacific:

  • Jordan Hill confirmed rumors from this past spring that he wouldn’t have re-signed with the Lakers if Mike D’Antoni were still the coach, as he tells Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Medina adds the Heat, Spurs and Magic to the list of suitors who went after the power forward this summer.
  • Byron Scott stopped short of acknowledging that Ronnie Price is a lock to make the opening-night roster for the Lakers, but the coach said that injuries to the team’s other point guards would make it tough to let him go, Medina notes in a separate piece“If you look at it that way, we have to [keep him],” Scott said. “Ronnie gets more of an opportunity. So far in my opinion, he has taken full advantage of it.”
  • The Suns told Isaiah Thomas when they pitched him in free agency this summer that they valued him as a starter even though they made it clear they wanted to retain Eric Bledsoe, as Thomas tells Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Thomas isn’t concerned with whether he starts, but he did express continued bitterness toward the Kings, telling Kennedy he wasn’t surprised that they didn’t re-sign him and that he always felt the Sacramento organization underappreciated him.