Aaron Gordon

Extensions Appear Unlikely For Nurkic, Gordon, Payton

With the October 16 deadline for rookie scale extensions just three days away, it appears unlikely that Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, Magic forward Aaron Gordon, or Magic guard Elfrid Payton will agree to new deals with their respective clubs.

Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link) has the latest on Nurkic, reporting that the fourth-year center is preparing to reach restricted free agency in 2018. The Trail Blazers have yet to make an extension offer to Nurkic, according to Charania, so it would take a major last-minute push from both sides to get something done.

As for the Magic duo, Gordon’s agent tells Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel that he doesn’t anticipate his client reaching an extension agreement. Payton’s rep doesn’t weigh in with his thoughts, but Robbins is bearish on the point guard’s chances of securing a long-term deal within the next few days.

In the Blazers’ case, it makes some sense that the team would be willing to wait to finalize a new deal for Nurkic. Although the former Nugget looked great in 20 games for Portland last season, he has battled multiple injuries this year, including a broken leg, and the team likely wants to take a longer look at him before making a major long-term commitment. The Blazers’ cap situation also complicates matters, since the club may need to dump another contract if Nurkic signs an extension.

The Magic, meanwhile, have had years to evaluate Gordon and Payton, but the current management group wasn’t around for the duo’s first few seasons. As Robbins notes, new president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and GM John Hammond have said they want to use the 2017/18 season to get more familiar with the franchise’s players, so they may be reluctant to invest major money in either Gordon or Payton quite yet.

Assuming Nurkic, Gordon, and Payton don’t negotiate a last-minute extension by Monday’s deadline, they’ll all be eligible for restricted free agency next July.

Extension Rumors: LaVine, Capela, Smart, Randle

Earlier today, Andrew Wiggins became the fourth 2014 first-rounder to reach an agreement on a rookie scale extension with his current team, joining Joel Embiid, Gary Harris, and T.J. Warren. That still leaves 17 players eligible for a rookie scale extension up until the October 16 deadline.

Not all of those players are strong candidates for a new deal. It’s extremely unlikely, for instance, that the Raptors will extend Bruno Caboclo within the next few days, and we shouldn’t bet on Shabazz Napier getting a new long-term deal from Portland. Still, a number of viable candidates remain unsigned.

Here are the latest notes and rumors on some of those extension-eligible players:

  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider link) identifies Aaron Gordon (Magic), Elfrid Payton (Magic), Zach LaVine (Bulls), Jusuf Nurkic (Trail Blazers), and Rodney Hood (Jazz) as the most logical candidates for extensions among the group of remaining eligible players.
  • There’s “nothing substantive” so far between LaVine and the Bulls, but that could change by next Monday, TNT’s David Aldridge writes in his rundown of extension candidates at NBA.com. Aldridge – who examines each 2014 first-rounder individually – is also somewhat bullish on the possibility of new deals for Nurkic, Hood, and Rockets big man Clint Capela.
  • Marcus Smart said earlier this week that his agent has yet to hear from the Celtics about a possible extension. Today, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge didn’t exactly offer clarity on the subject, indicating that he has had “talks” about a new contract for Smart, but no “negotiations” (Twitter link via Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald).
  • Julius Randle is extension-eligible, but his future with the Lakers is linked to the team’s pursuit of 2018 free agents, as Bill Oram of The Orange County Register details. Although Randle says his reps have been in touch with the Lakers, an extension this year is an extreme long shot.

Kyler’s Latest: Parker, Embiid, A. Gordon, Hood

Andrew Wiggins‘ case for a contract extension has received most of the attention so far this summer, but Wiggins is just one of 21 players heading into the final year of their respective rookie contracts who are eligible for rookie scale extensions this offseason.

In his latest piece for Basketball Insiders, Steve Kyler takes a closer look at several of those extension-eligible players, so let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • There’s a sense that the Bucks are open to getting something done this offseason with Jabari Parker, since they’re confident he’ll make a full recovery from his latest ACL tear, sources tell Kyler. However, Milwaukee would almost certainly ask Parker to accept a team-friendly rate, so he’s more likely to play out his final year and seek out a new deal next summer as a restricted free agent.
  • There’s a “growing sense” that the Sixers will extend Joel Embiid, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll accept an offer worth less than the max, writes Kyler. A deal structured like Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s four-year, $100MM extension might make sense if Embiid doesn’t want to push hard for a max contract.
  • With a new management team in place in Orlando, the Magic are expected to take a wait-and-see approach to a new deal for Aaron Gordon, unless he’s willing to sign at a discounted rate for the sake of long-term security, says Kyler.
  • If the Celtics lock up Marcus Smart to a long-term deal, it’s more likely to happen in 2018 than this offseason, per Kyler.
  • With the Lakers looking to maximize their 2018 cap room, Julius Randle has a better chance to be traded at some point before February’s deadline than he does to be extended before the season, according to Kyler.
  • Sources tell Kyler that Rodney Hood and his camp are “very open” to negotiating an extension with the Jazz. The Basketball Insiders scribe estimates that something in the Evan Turner range (four years, $70MM) might be an appropriate price point for Hood.

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.

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