The Magic and Al Horford share interest in each other with free agency looming for the big man and Orlando having opened plentiful cap room with its trades this week, a source told Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Zach Lowe of ESPN.com tweeted Wednesday that he expects the Magic to push hard for the Jason Glushon client this summer. Horford remains with Atlanta, though he was reportedly in play for a trade as late as two hours before Thursday’s deadline.
Atlanta was nonetheless setting a high price in trade talks for the former University of Florida standout who holds the Hawks in high regard. His Bird rights are tied to Atlanta, meaning the Hawks are the only team that can offer him a fifth year in a contract, a factor that Lowe hears will be of utmost importance to the 29-year-old. The Hawks can also give him 7.5% raises instead of the 4.5% raises other teams are limited to, so a five-year package from Atlanta would be worth $36.852MM more than a four-year deal from the Magic or anyone else, based on the NBA’s projection of a $24.9MM maximum salary for players with Horford’s level of experience. However, Florida’s lack of a state income tax mitigates that difference, at least to some degree.
Deveney speculates about the prospect of Horford and fellow soon-to-be free agent Joakim Noah, Horford’s college teammate, joining forces in Orlando. Noah is unlikely to re-sign with the Bulls, Deveney writes, a view that conflicts with Bulls GM Gar Forman‘s optimism on the matter, which Forman expressed Thursday to reporters, including Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com (Twitter link). Noah and Magic coach Scott Skiles didn’t always see eye-to-eye when they were together on the Bulls, but much has changed since then, according to Deveney, and players generally like working under coach Scott Skiles despite his reputation as a hard-liner, Deveney writes.
The Magic have the flexibility necessary to spend on multiple high-profile free agents if they can attract them to Orlando. They have only about $36MM in guaranteed salary against a salary cap for next season that’s estimated to be between $89MM and $95MM. The Magic will also go after DeMar DeRozan, according to Deveney, but he’s consistently made it clear he wants to re-sign with the Raptors.