Aaron Gordon

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].’’

Eastern Notes: James, Heat, Gordon, Jackson

When LeBron James returns to Miami this afternoon, he is hoping for a better reception than the one he got from Cleveland four years ago, reports Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. James became a villain in Ohio after leaving the Cavaliers in 2010 to join the Heat. Now that he has returned to the Cavs, he hopes fans in Miami will be understanding. “I’ve got nothing but love for Miami,” James said. “Regardless of what happens, it won’t change how I feel about that city and the organization.” After leading the Heat to four straight NBA Finals, James opted out of his contract and accepted a two-year deal last summer to go back to Cleveland.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Bitterness isn’t a quality that fits South Florida, opines Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report. The columnist urges Heat fans to be gracious hosts to James and to remember the unprecedented heights he helped the franchise reach. He also credits James for being willing to leave the Cavaliers in 2010 and gamble on building a winner in Miami.
  • Guarding James was one of the NBA challenges Magic rookie Aaron Gordon was looking forward to, but Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel reports that will have to wait. Gordon fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in November and will miss his 21st consecutive game when the Cavaliers come to Orlando Friday night. He was recently able to shed his walking boot and got medical permission to shoot set shots, but not jumpers. “My team needs me, and I can help my team,” Gordon said. “But I have two shoes on now. I’m not wearing a boot.”
  • Phil Jackson offered some encouragement to Knicks fans on an otherwise gloomy Christmas, writes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. On a day where the Knicks were embarrassed by the Wizards on national television to fall to 5-26, Jackson sent out a pair of tweets promising 2015 will be a better year. Immediate help from the trade market seems unlikely, as Jackson has said he will only bring in players who fit New York’s long-term plans. So Begley said the team’s main hope is the draft, where the Knicks currently are in line for the second overall pick, as our Reverse Standings show.

Aaron Gordon Out Up To Eight Weeks

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.

Magic Sign Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton

10:01am: Their contracts are indeed for 120% of the rookie scale, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel tweets.

9:44am: The Magic have signed No. 4 overall pick Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton, the 10th overall pick, the team announced via press release. Official signings with first-round picks are one of the few maneuvers allowed during the July moratorium. They’re both presumably getting the standard 120% of the rookie scale, so Gordon will likely make slightly more than $3.992MM this season while Payton will probably draw nearly $2.398MM, as our table of salaries for first-round picks shows.

Orlando pulled a surprise with its choice of Gordon, a power forward from Arizona, while Dante Exum and Marcus Smart were still on the board, but the team filled its need for a point guard not long after, swinging a trade to acquire Payton. Orlando gave up No. 12 pick Dario Saric, a 2017 first-rounder and a 2015 second-rounder to the Sixers in exchange for the point guard from Louisiana-Lafayette.

Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors gave the Magic an A for their draft, one in which they also netted No. 56 overall pick Devyn Marble. Still, he pointed to the risk involved with Gordon when he examined him as part of our Prospect Profile Series.

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