Aaron Gordon

Aaron Gordon Meets With Frank Vogel

A day after a photo showing an list of apparent offseason trade and free agent targets for the Magic went viral, Aaron Gordon met with head coach Frank Vogel to talk things over, per Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Although the leaked dry-erase board primarily features names of players on other teams, Gordon was referenced in an item that reads [Dario] Saric (for AG?),” creating speculation that the Magic would be open to moving him in a trade for Saric.

“Typically, with rumors and stuff like that, we don’t really address them,” Vogel said. “But this is a unique situation, and I talked to him a little bit this morning, and everybody’s good. We’re ready to move on.”

Magic general manager Rob Hennigan downplayed the significance of the leaked board when he was asked about it, suggesting that it’s simply a list of potential options for the Magic, and that it doesn’t necessarily reflect their summer plans. Hennigan also mentioned that the list includes names “which other teams have inquired about,” an apparent reference to the Gordon item.

Nonetheless, it makes sense for Vogel to meet with Gordon to ensure that the young power forward isn’t unhappy. For his part, Gordon said he doesn’t intend to dwell on the revelation, as Robbins details.

“It wasn’t for me to see, so for me to see something like that, it brings something that’s out of my control into my reality,” Gordon said. “But that’s neither here nor there. My plan and my focus is to play basketball and to enjoy the game of basketball. Anything other than that is out of my control. I love this organization and I’m going to continue to work hard and play.”

It’s an unusual situation for Gordon and the Magic, and one that might be rendered moot in the near future anyway. Hennigan is said to be on the hot seat in Orlando, so if the team makes changes to its front office in the coming weeks, it could be a chance for a new front office team to start over with Gordon.

Meanwhile, the player whose name was listed next to Gordon’s is also doing his best to downplay the item’s significance. As Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes, Saric suggested today that he must be doing something right to show up on another team’s board, though he pointed out that the Magic could have had him already if they really wanted him — Orlando and Philadelphia participated in a draft-night trade in 2014 that saw the Magic acquire Elfrid Payton for the rights to Saric and other pieces.

Hennigan: Leaked Board “Not Indicative” Of Magic’s Plans

The agent for newly-signed Magic swingman Patricio Garino created a stir this week when he tweeted out a photo of his client signing a contract with Orlando. The seemingly innocuous photo, which has since been deleted, went viral because of what showed up in the background behind Garino: A dry-erase board that listed apparent free agent and trade targets for the Magic.

Asked by Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel for a comment on the board, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said the lists are “not indicative of plans” and are “simply listing options, including some which other teams have inquired about.”

The lists of players includes three visible headings: “Hybrid Trade,” “Hybrid Free Agency,” and “Spread Bigs Trade.” The first two columns list players capable of playing multiple positions, while the latter column focuses on big men who can shoot from outside. A fourth column appears to list “spread bigs” available in free agency, though it’s partially cut off.

Wilson Chandler, Justise Winslow, and Tobias Harris are among the many names on the “Hybrid Trade” list, with Danilo Gallinari, Paul Millsap, and Otto Porter among the names on the “Hybrid Free Agency” list. The “Spread Bigs Trade” column features names like Nikola Mirotic, Chandler Parsons, and many others.

One of the more interesting items under the “Hybrid Trade” column on the Magic’s board is a mention of Dario Saric with “For AG?” noted in parentheses. “AG” likely refers to Magic power forward Aaron Gordon, so it’s possible Hennigan’s claim that the board includes notes on players other teams have inquired about was meant to explain this item. However, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that the Sixers have never discussed sending Saric to the Magic or any other team.

Ultimately, the leak doesn’t seem overly consequential — the NBA’s other 29 teams likely have similar lists of potential offseason targets. Still, it’s not a great look for a front office that is already under fire. If Hennigan – who is said to be on the hot seat – is replaced after the season, the club could head into the summer with a new management group and a new big board in place.

Southeast Notes: Gordon, McGruder, Wizards

The trade that sent Serge Ibaka from the Magic to the Raptors opened an opportunity for 21-year-old forward Aaron Gordon to slide from the three to his natural position at the four, writes John Denton of the team’s official website. The third-year man is readjusting to the defensive responsibilities of the power forward position.

I need to become a better shot-blocker because I missed plenty of opportunities where I could have at least altered shots,” the Magic big man said of his first game back at power forward on Thursday night. “I was unsure of the timing, when to go and my positioning on the court.

Previously the Magic had been using Gordon as a perimeter defender charged with the task of checking the opposing team’s best scorer. “I’m used to not over-helping and over-committing because I’m usually guarding the best player on the floor,” Gordon said. “Now, that’s not the case and I have the leniency to go help and block shots.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Undrafted rookie Rodney McGruder is making a name for himself as a scrappy, pest of a player, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. The forward has played a substantial role on a Heat team that has done nothing but exceed expectations this season. “He’s always head first, nose first into everything,”  teammate Wayne Ellington said. “He makes it hard for guys when he frustrates guys.
  • Backup center Willie Reed is day-to-day with ankle bursitis and didn’t travel with the team for Sunday’s matchup with the Mavs. With Reed out, the Heat will turn to veteran Udonis Haslem or an out-of-position James Johnson to handle duties at the five, says Winderman in a separate piece for the Sun-Sentinel.
  • The Wizards have some adjustments to make with offseason acquisition Ian Mahinmi back in the lineup and newly acquired Bojan Bogdanovic still settling in, writes J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic. “We’re trying to find some consistency,” said head coach Scott Brooks. “Getting Ian back, hopefully we can get him back to a stretch of games where he can play and build a chemistry with the group he’s out there with. Now Bojan so we can have him out there with that group. It’s consistency and understanding where we can get some points. I got to try to figure out what’s the best minute-wise and who plays and the matchups.

Magic Rumors: Vogel, Vucevic, Gordon

Magic coach Frank Vogel thought he walked into a much better situation than he’s encountered, as John Denton of the team’s website relays. Orlando is 13 games under .500, much to the chagrin of its first-year coach. “I anticipated being as far over .500 as we are under .500 right now,” Vogel told Denton and other reporters. The additions of veterans like Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo have not made the desired impact and Vogel admits the pieces haven’t fit as well as expected, Denton adds. “I thought it had the potential to be a lot better than we’ve shown this year. But in basketball, the names, the faces and the contracts that are put together don’t always equate to a great mix and the pieces fitting,” Vogel said. “What you do is do the best job you can assembling it and hope the pieces fit. Sometimes, it really fits and the rhythm is there and sometimes it’s not there.”

In other developments involving the team:

  • Trade rumors involving Nikola Vucevic and Ibaka show how poorly the team’s roster rebuild has gone, David Whitley of the Orlando Sentinel opines. The club cannot stand pat before the trade deadline but another major reboot is in store for the franchise, Whitley continues. Missing out on star talents like Andrew Wiggins and Kristaps Porzingis, while drafting Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton and Mario Hezonja in the lottery, has put the Magic in this predicament, Whitley adds.
  • Gordon has the potential to be a future Defensive Player of the Year, Denton writes in a separate piece. Gordon has the ability to guard any position because of his 6’9” length, his strength, his superior athleticism and his lateral quickness, Denton continues. Gordon realizes Orlando has to become a winner before he gains more notoriety around the league for his defensive ability, Denton adds. “To be D-POY, you’ve got to get more wins,” Gordon told Denton. “I don’t care how good of a defender you are, if your team isn’t getting wins, you aren’t going to get D-POY.”

Magic Notes: Fournier, Hardaway, Gordon

Fifth-year guard Evan Fournier has spent the past week and a half recovering from a foot injury that he believes he may have made worse by attempting to rush back too early, writes John Denton of the Magic’s official website.

It’s a fine line and [Fournier’s desire to return] probably does work against him,” Magic head coach Frank Vogel said. “We want this to be put behind him. We don’t want him to play a couple and then have to sit another two weeks, play a couple and have to sit. Hopefully when we get him back this time it’s behind him.”

In 36 games for the Magic, Fournier has led the team in scoring with 17.0 points per game. Over the summer, Fournier signed a five-year, $85MM deal.

There’s more out of Orlando:

  • After signing a 10-day contract with the Magic, Anthony Brown expects to bring energy and floor spacing to the frontcourt heavy roster. Brown spoke with Basketball Insiders on Sunday.
  • Former Magic star Penny Hardaway wishes he never left Orlando, says Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. Hardaway was honored by the team on Friday night and inducted into the Magic Hall of Fame. “Every time I watch the footage, man, I just get tears in my eyes because there’s always that what if if we would have all stayed together,” Hardaway said. Earlier this month the trade that sent Penny Hardaway to the Suns was featured in Hoops Rumors Retro piece.
  • The Magic added frontcourt help over the summer that significantly impacted Aaron Gordon, writes Dylan Hughes of 16 Wins A Ring, but the third-year forward has thrived this year at small forward. Hughes cites Gordon’s improved three-point shot as one of the biggest reasons he’s been able to play well out of position, but says that the dunk contest runner-up would benefit from being able to play his own position as Jabari Parker has with the Bucks.

Eastern Notes: Vucevic, Mirotic, Canaan, Pistons

Magic coach Frank Vogel shook up the starting lineup tonight with D.J. Augustin, Bismack Biyombo and Aaron Gordon replacing Elfrid Payton, Nikola Vucevic and Jeff Green, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. The change was prompted by a three-game losing streak, but not much improved with an eight-point loss to the Bucks.

Vucevic promised to keep a professional attitude about the move, but he clearly isn’t endorsing it. “I spoke to Frank about it last night, and obviously I wasn’t happy with the decision they made,” the sixth-year center said to Zach Oliver of OPP Magic Blog. “I didn’t think there was a reason for me to go to the bench, but it’s coach’s decision. All I can do is control what I can control, which is when I’m on the court play to the best of my ability and help the team win. Stay professional and whatever is going on, I’ll keep giving my best and give them my full effort.”

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic hopes to stay in the NBA rather than return to Europe after his contract expires at the end of this season, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. The former Real Madrid star is wrapping up a three-year, $16.6MM deal. He calls Chicago “a great city” and says he wants to continue to take on the challenges that the NBA presents. “I think [the NBA] is the best place I can grow as a player,” Mirotic said. “I was very comfortable in Madrid. … That was a perfect place to stay and be in a comfort zone, to sign another five years. But that’s not who I am. I like the challenges. … And I came here to prove that I’m ready.”
  • A season and a half in Philadelphia has helped Bulls guard Isaiah Canaan appreciate the chance to be on a winning team, writes Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly. Canaan signed with Chicago over the summer after the Sixers declined to submit a qualifying offer. “I say it was a blessing for the opportunity, just to prove I can help a team out and show what I can bring,” Canaan said. “It was a humbling experience for me just to have to go through something like that and learn not to take anything for granted.”
  • A June meeting at a Tigers game between Pistons owner Tom Gores and the Ilitch family, which owns the Red Wings, led to the Pistons’ move downtown next season, relays Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.

Magic Exercise 2017/18 Options On Gordon, Hezonja, Payton

The Magic have exercised three of their four available team options for 2017/18, announcing today (via Twitter) that Aaron Gordon, Mario Hezonja, and Elfrid Payton are now locked in for that season. Gordon’s fourth-year option is worth $5.504MM, Hezonja’s third-year option is worth $4.078MM, and Payton’s fourth-year option is worth $3.332MM.

[RELATED: Full breakdown of decisions on 2017/18 team options]

C.J. Wilcox also has a team option for 2017/18 available on his rookie contract, but he wasn’t mentioned in the press release issued today by Orlando. That likely means that Wilcox’s option will be declined, but the club has a few more days to officially make that call. October 31 is the deadline for teams to exercise ’17/18 options on rookie contracts.

Gordon and Payton are expected to have significant roles in the Magic’s rotation this year after each player took a step forward in 2015/16. Gordon, averaging 23.9 minutes per contest, posted 9.2 PPG and 6.5 RPG, while Payton put up 10.7 PPG, 6.4 APG, and 3.6 RPG in 29.4 minutes per contest. As for Hezonja, he should have the opportunity to increase his role as well, since Orlando isn’t exactly loaded with shooters. In his rookie season, he shot 34.9% from three-point range in 79 games.

With their fourth-year options now exercised, Gordon and Payton will be eligible for extensions in 2017 and restricted free agency in 2018. Hezonja, one year behind them, has one more team option for 2018/19, which the Magic will have to make a decision on next fall.

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.

Magic Pick Up Options On Napier, Three Others

SUNDAY, 1:58pm: The team announced it has exercised the options on each of the players, Robbins tweets.

TUESDAY, 11:24am: Shabazz Napier‘s strong preseason performance has won over the Magic, who plan to pick up their $1,350,120 team option for 2016/17 on his rookie scale contract, reports Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. The team is also planning to exercise its rookie scale options on Aaron Gordon, Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton, according to Robbins, but unlike those three, the team wasn’t quite convinced about the option for Napier heading into camp, Robbins indicates.

The deadline for all four options is Monday, November 2nd, and Orlando is expected to make the moves official soon after its last preseason game on Friday, Robbins writes. The options add up to precisely $14.868MM, lifting the Magic’s payroll for 2016/17 to more than $60.5MM against a projected $89MM cap.

Napier, 24, is fifth on the team in preseason points per game, with 10.2, and is putting up that number in just 17.0 minutes per contest. The point guard whom the Magic acquired for virtually nothing in a trade with the Heat this summer has posted 2.2 assists and 1.2 turnovers per game in his five preseason appearances. That’s slightly better than the 2.2-to-1.6 assists-to-turnover ratio he put up in his rookie season with Miami last year, and he’s scoring at about double the rate he did with the Heat.

The 2014 Final Four Most Outstanding Player went 24th overall in the 2014 draft on the same night the Magic came away with Gordon and Payton, who were top-10 picks. Payton finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting while injury limited Gordon’s impact. Oladipo was the second pick in the 2013 draft and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2014.

I regarded the option pickup for Napier as generally likely, while the same move for Gordon, Payton and Oladipo seemed highly likely. The options for Napier, Gordon and Payton are for the third seasons of their respective rookie scale contracts, which cover four years. The option for Oladipo is for his fourth season, and he’ll be eligible for a rookie scale extension next summer.

Do you agree with the Magic’s plan to pick up Napier’s option? Leave a comment to let us know.

Southeast Notes: Weber, Hardaway Jr., Webster

Martell Webster‘s injury woes may end up costing him some guaranteed salary, J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic relays. The final season of Webster’s four-year, $22MM deal with the Wizards includes an incentive clause that stipulates that he has to appear in a total of 180 regular season contests during the first three years of the arrangement, or else his full guarantee will be downgraded to a partial guarantee of $2MM, which is less than 50% of what Webster’s contract calls for in 2016/17, Michael notes. Webster played 78 and 32 games in the first two years of his deal, which means that he’d need to make 70 appearances this season to meet his contractual goal, an unrealistic expectation given the Wizards’ depth at forward and his current health status, the CSN scribe opines.

Here’s more out of the Southeast:

  • Briante Weber‘s minimum salary deal with the Heat is for one year and includes no guaranteed money, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (via Twitter).
  • Hawks swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. has struggled to find his shooting stroke during the preseason, but he’ll still be given ample opportunities to prove himself this season given the high price Atlanta paid to obtain him, writes Kris Willis of SB Nation’s Peachtree Hoops.
  • Magic coach Scott Skiles believes that second-year combo forward Aaron Gordon will be a difference-maker for the team this season, John Denton of NBA.com writes. Orlando is hoping that Gordon will be able to play small forward full time which would allow the team to shift Tobias Harris to power forward, Denton adds. “I want to get [Gordon] to play with Tobias some. It’s not like we’re doubting that they can play together because we know that they can, but it’s just a matter of actually going out there and doing it,’’ Skiles said. “Then, it’s about figuring out after Friday who we want to start opening night and things like that [with the rotations].’’
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