Orlando Magic

Gordon Readjusting To Power Forward Position

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.

Post-Deadline Housekeeping: New TPEs, Open Roster Spots

There were no superstars on the move on Thursday, but NBA teams made eight trades, and there were many more signings and cuts completed once the deadline passed. In the wake of the deadline, we’ll take a look at a few roster- and cap-related notes, rounding up the new traded player exceptions that teams created on Thursday, as well as examining which teams still have space available on their rosters.

Let’s dive in…

New trade exceptions:

Several over-the-cap teams acquired new trade exceptions on Thursday. They’ll all expire on February 23, 2018, a year after they were created, or until they’re used or renounced by the teams below. If a club wants to use cap room, it must renounce its trade exceptions, but until then, these TPEs can be used in the summer or next season to acquire players.

Here’s the breakdown, in order of TPE value:

  • Dallas Mavericks: $6,642,537
  • Chicago Bulls: $5,462,000
  • Milwaukee Bucks: $5,000,000
  • Atlanta Hawks: $3,333,334
  • Houston Rockets: $3,333,333
  • Dallas Mavericks: $1,514,160
  • Houston Rockets: $612,172
  • Toronto Raptors: $328,000
  • Houston Rockets: $233,880

Some notes related to these TPEs:

  • Multiple teams on this list, including the Rockets and Bucks, could open up cap room by renouncing their trade exceptions. In Houston’s case, this is particularly notable, since the club would create more than $3.5MM in cap space by renouncing these TPEs. That cap room could come in handy very soon if the Rockets are trying to entice a free agent to sign with them instead of another contender that can only offer the minimum.
  • As is always the case with TPEs, some of these exceptions will be more useful than others. The Mavericks could end up doing something interesting with their $6.6MM+ TPE, but the Raptors will almost certainly never use theirs for $328K.
  • The Thunder also came out of Thursday’s action with a new TPE — sort of. Oklahoma City had created a trade exception worth $7.4MM on November 1 when the team sent Ersan Ilyasova to Philadelphia. The Thunder used a portion of that exception at the deadline to absorb Doug McDermott‘s salary, leaving approximately $4.94MM left on it. OKC will have until November 1 to use the rest of that TPE.
  • For the complete list of trade exceptions across the NBA, click here.

Teams with open roster spots:

A day after the trade deadline, the list of teams with open roster spots is incredibly fluid. Some teams that acquired players in trades don’t have any use for those players, and will waive them. Other clubs will fill roster holes with D-League call-ups, while other teams will be a little more patient and wait out the buyout market.

All of this is to say that this list is up to date at the time of publication, but could change quickly as teams make more moves this weekend. Here are the teams that currently have at least one open spot on their 15-man roster, with their player count noted in parentheses:

  • Charlotte Hornets (13): The 10-day contracts for Ray McCallum and Mike Tobey expired overnight, so Charlotte has two open spots. The team reportedly plans to use one on Johnny O’Bryant.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (14): The Cavs have 13 guaranteed contracts, plus Derrick Williams‘ 10-day deal. The team expects to sign Deron Williams as well, so if any other roster additions are coming after that, Cleveland would need to clear a roster spot.
  • Dallas Mavericks (13): The Mavs have two openings after completing a two-for-one trade with the Sixers, then waiving Deron Williams.
  • Houston Rockets (14): The Rockets opened up a roster spot by trading K.J. McDaniels, and may waive Marcelo Huertas as well. Houston is expected to be active on the buyout market.
  • Milwaukee Bucks (14): The Bucks created a roster opening by sending Roy Hibbert to Denver, and they’re expected to fill it by signing Axel Toupane to a 10-day contract.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (14): Unlike most of the teams on this list, the Wolves have carried an open roster spot for a while, and that didn’t change at the deadline.
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (14): The Thunder traded three players to Chicago and received just two in return, creating an opening. They have their eye on free agents and buyout candidates.
  • Orlando Magic (14): Like Minnesota, the Magic were carrying an open roster spot prior to the deadline and didn’t make a move on Thursday.

The Suns will join this list as soon as they officially waive Mike Scott and Jared Sullinger, as is expected. They’ll fill one of those two newly-open spots with Ronnie Price. There are also three teams that have full 15-man rosters with at least one player on a 10-day contract. The Hawks, Warriors, and Pelicans fall into this category, with Briante Weber‘s second 10-day deal in Golden State set to expire soon.

For a full breakdown of NBA roster counts, check out our list.

Latest On Pistons Point Guard Reggie Jackson

Reggie Jackson is likely to stay put because of the Pistons’ high asking price, league executives told Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (Twitter link).

The team’s front office — headed by president of basketball operations and coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Jeff Bower — has been aggressively shopping the point guard, Chris Mannix of The Vertical tweets, and is seeking a first-round pick, young player and an expiring contract in return.

The large package that the Pistons want for Jackson could indicate that they believe his inconsistent play this season is injury-related and that he’ll return to top form next season, Rod Beard of the Detroit News speculates (Twitter link). Jackson missed the first 21 games after receiving a plasma-rich injection for knee tendinitis during training camp. Jackson is averaging 15.2 PPG and 5.6 APG since his return after posting averages of 18.8 PPG and 6.2 APG last season when Detroit won 44 games and made the playoffs.

Jackson has been the subject of trade speculation for weeks, with the Timberwolves and Magic at the forefront of potential suitors. A Jackson-for-Ricky-Rubio rumor surfaced last month, though Van Gundy quickly shot it down.  The Orlando discussions involved D.J. Augustin and Jeff Green but the Magic currently have nothing cooking for either Jackson or Rubio, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets. However, Jake L. Fischer of SI.com tweets that Orlando can get Jackson if it’s willing to part with a valuable first-rounder.

Trade Rumors: KCP, OKC, Afflalo, Knight, Ezeli

While the Pistons have been open to listening to inquiries on anyone, few – if any – players on their roster have received as much interest as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Speaking to reporters, including Rod Beard of The Detroit News, Stan Van Gundy confirmed that KCP’s future has been one of the main topics discussed as of late by the Pistons, who will have to make a big long-term commitment to the shooting guard this summer if they keep him.

“That’s something you have to make decisions about and deal with. I’m not getting into specifics at this point, but that has been a significant part of what we’ve talked about,” Van Gundy said of the RFA-to-be. “He was probably the most urgent decision because of that and the money coming and what it means in terms of the cap and the (luxury) tax. We’ve talked about it internally and we’ve talked about it with (team owner) Tom (Gores). We know exactly what’s coming and we’re making informed decisions.”

Here are several more trade rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • The Thunder are being aggressive as the trade deadline nears, according to Royce Young of ESPN.com (Twitter links), who adds Doug McDermott to the list of players on Oklahoma City’s radar. OKC was linked to another Bulls forward – Taj Gibson – earlier today.
  • League executives believe the Kings will move Arron Afflalo today, says Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee adds (via Twitter) that Afflalo is more likely to be dealt than Ben McLemore, who has impressed some people within the organization lately. Afflalo has been linked to Indiana and Oklahoma City this week.
  • Brandon Knight wouldn’t mind a change of scenery, but the Suns have set their asking price too high in the past in talks with the Magic, Kings, Sixers, and Bulls, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. As Amick observes, it remains to be seen whether that will change today.
  • The Trail Blazers continue to try to find a taker for Festus Ezeli‘s contract, per ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter link).
  • Although Bucks general manager John Hammond likes to make trades, league executives say Milwaukee has been “low key” in trade talks this week, according to Jeff Zilgitt of USA Today (Twitter link).
  • The Cavaliers continue to work on deals that could fortify their roster, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team ultimately rely on the buyout market instead, tweets Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.

Southeast Notes: Porter, Heat, Plumlee, Magic

The Wizards may not be finished dealing after a multi-player trade with the Nets this afternoon, tweets Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Washington will continue to look for help through Thursday’s trade deadline at 3 p.m. Eastern. Today’s deal, which sent Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton and this year’s first-rounder to Brooklyn in exchange for Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough, clears cap space to help the Wizards re-sign Otto Porter this summer, notes David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link). Nicholson, who had fallen out of the rotation in Washington, still has three seasons and nearly $20MM left on his contract.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Bogdanovic has a 15% trade kicker, notes Bobby Marks of The Vertical (Twitter link). That amounts to $157K, which Brooklyn will pay, but his cap hit for the Wizards is now $3.73MM.
  • The Heat will avoid any deadline moves that would tie up their future cap space, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. That makes them unlikely to pursue the Nuggets’ Wilson Chandler or the Nets’ Trevor Booker, who both have contracts that extend beyond this season. Jackson cites a rival GM who has spoken to Miami about a deal and believes “they seem content to stand pat.”
  • Miami expects to have Josh Richardson back in the lineup for Friday’s game, according to a tweet from the team. A foot injury has kept him out of the lineup since January 8th. “He’s had a healthy approach the last 4-5 weeks to prepare,” said coach Erik Spoelstra. Justise Winslow won’t be back this season, but he is making progress from shoulder surgery, the Heat noted (Twitter link), as his sling has been removed.
  • Hornets center Miles Plumlee will be out of action for at least two weeks with a right calf strain, the team posted on its website. An MRI revealed the second-degree strain, and Plumlee will be re-evaluated in 14 days. He has played just five games for Charlotte since being acquired from the Bucks in a February 2nd trade.
  • Despite a 21-37 record, the Magic have no plans to tank the rest of the season, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando is currently fourth in our Reverse Standings and would have an 11.9% chance of winning the lottery. Coach Frank Vogel believes it would be a mistake to try to improve those odds by losing on purpose. “As a coach, you worry about one thing, and that’s getting a group of guys that haven’t won in five years to learn how to win,” Vogel said. “That’s more important than any one player you can add.”

No Traction For Magic In Reggie Jackson Talks

  • It doesn’t appear that the Magic and Pistons have any traction on a Reggie Jackson swap at this point, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Kyler notes that things could change by Thursday, but the latest round of Jackson rumors had the Pistons in talks with the Timberwolves and Knicks. While they’re not on the verge of anything with Jackson, the Magic are on the lookout for a point guard upgrade, Kyler tweets, adding that Suns guard Brandon Knight is on Orlando’s radar to a lesser extent.

Magic Had 'Nominal' Interest In DeMarcus Cousins

  • Given the underwhelming nature of the trade package the Kings received, Kristian Winfield of SBNation.com wonders where the other offers for Cousins were. According to Mannix, a handful of teams, including the Magic and Celtics, expressed “nominal interest” in Cousins, though Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald tweets that Boston wasn’t one of the clubs actively engaged with Sacramento on Sunday.

Northwest Notes: Mudiay, Thibodeau, Stephenson

The performance of Nuggets rookie guard Jamal Murray has made Emmanuel Mudiay expendable, writes Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. Veteran Jameer Nelson has become the starting point guard as Denver pushes for a playoff spot, and Kiszla sees Murray as a better backup to both Nelson and Gary Harris than Mudiay is. That leaves little playing time for last year’s first-round pick, who may now be more valuable to the Nuggets as a trade chip. Kiszla would like to see the Nuggets pursue Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, but admits that Denver doesn’t have the pieces to make that happen. He also mentions Atlanta’s Thabo Sefolosha as a target, but not in a one-for-one deal for Mudiay.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Tom Thibodeau’s new dual role as Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations leaves no time for a vacation during the All-Star break, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Zgoda lists seven possible targets for Minnesota before Thursday’s trade deadline: Chicago’s Taj Gibson, Orlando’s Bismack Biyombo, Denver’s Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler, Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert, Phoenix’s P.J. Tucker and Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel.
  • Lance Stephenson is looking at a two-week recovery from his Grade 2 ankle sprain, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis. Stephenson’s 10-day contract expired this weekend, and it’s uncertain whether the Timberwolves will be interested in signing him again once he has recovered.
  • The Jazz may add short-term salary to help them get above the cap floor, but they will be reluctant to take on long-term salary in any deal, writes Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News. Utah’s top priority this summer will be to re-sign Gordon Hayward, who will want a max contract with an annual salary in the $25MM to $30MM range. The Jazz also want to keep free agent point guard George Hill, who will demand about $20MM per season, and Rudy Gobert‘s extension will kick in next season, starting at more than $21.2MM next year. That ties up three players making more than $70MM, which limits Utah’s roster flexibility.

Celtics May Pursue Danilo Gallinari

The Celtics may try to pick up Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari before Thursday’s trade deadline, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald.

Boston GM Danny Ainge has long been a fan of Gallinari, according to Bulpett, and has tried to deal for him before. There haven’t been any trade rumors linking the Celtics and Gallinari this year, but the author notes that was also true with Isaiah Thomas before Ainge dealt for him two years ago.

Gallinari has been slowed by a groin injury and hasn’t played since February 1st. He has a player option worth $16.1MM next season.

Boston is hoping to add another scorer through trade, and Ainge has been active in talks during All-Star Weekend, both as a main participant and a facilitator, according to Bulpett. So far, Ainge hasn’t found a deal worth giving up his most valuable assets, which include the Nets’ first-rounders this season and in 2018.

“Danny’s let it be known that he’s willing to talk about the Nets’ picks,” said an unidentified executive. “But you want one of those guys, you have to be willing to give up a star.”

Ainge would also prefer to stay away from players whose contracts expire this year or next year. The Celtics had some interest in Serge Ibaka before Orlando traded him to Toronto, but they weren’t willing to part with much because they weren’t sure they could re-sign him in free agency.

Bulpett adds that the Celtics are very protective of their cap space and are reluctant to make a move that would hurt them on the free agent market. He speculates that it would take someone like Jimmy Butler or Paul George to tempt Boston to add significant salary in a pre-deadline trade.

The Celtics are also significantly less interested in trading for Jahlil Okafor than they were a year ago, Bulpett notes. They had talked to the Sixers about an Okafor deal at last year’s deadline, but after signing Al Horford the Celtics only want front-line players who they believe are compatible with him. Boston might have more interest in Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel, but the team won’t offer as much as it would have in 2016.

The author believes the Celtics would love to pick up Andrew Bogut from Dallas if the Mavericks decide to be sellers, but again wouldn’t pay a high price in a deal.

Southeast Notes: Battier, Beal, Ibaka, Ross, Mahinmi

Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel wondered if Shane Battier, recently hired as the Heat‘s Director of Basketball Development and Analytics, will eventually assume leadership of the franchise from Pat Riley. For the interim, Winderman writes, Battier’s position will be the “first step” toward a post-Riley front office. Battier will work alongside Andy Elisburg and Nick Arison, executives with an advanced “business-of-basketball” acumen. While there is no reason to believe Riley is ready to step away from the game, Winderman could see Riley moving into a role similar to Jerry West’s with the Lakers; an executive board member who isn’t accountable for mundane, day-to-day front office operations.

More from around the Southeast…

  • Jared Dudley of the Suns stuck up for his former teammate, claiming Bradley Beal was snubbed of an All-Star roster spot. “The @NBA tells us players that winning matters! Wizards are the hottest team in the NBA! Bradley Beal is healthy and balling!”, Dudley tweeted on Thursday. (Twitter link) Keely Diven of CSN Mid-Atlantic argued that Carmelo Anthony received the All-Star nod due to his ability to attract media attention. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today gave further insight to ‘Melo’s selection, noting that Anthony received more votes from coaches than Beal.
  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders described it as “a little obvious” that Serge Ibaka did not bond with his teammates in Orlando. Ibaka, who was dealt to Toronto on February 14, didn’t mesh with the playing styles of Orlando’s younger players (Twitter link). By Kyler’s account, it seems that Ibaka’s teammates “had real issues” with the 27-year-old, and welcomed a change.
  • Terrence Ross told Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders that he embraced the “fresh start” in Orlando. “I was kind of aware that something could have been happening before the deadline so it wasn’t too shocking,” Ross said. “At the same time, being drafted to a team and playing for one team, it’s a little different, but I’m enjoying the process. It’s a good opportunity. It’s a new fresh start for me and I’m looking forward to it. I just kind of hope we can bring some of that experience I got in Toronto and bring it here, and really just helping wherever I can.” Ross, who has averaged 10.4 points through 54 games in 2016/17, is in the first season of a three-year, $31.5MM contract.
  • Jason Smith will likely see a dip in minutes as the Wizards ease Ian Mahinmi into the lineup, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes. Smith, who has averaged 7.8 points with 4.8 rebounds over his last six games, has been a serviceable back-up to starter Marcin Gortat“What he’s [Smith] done the last two or three months is what he’s done his entire career and he’s been terrific,” said Coach Scott Brooks. “But if you have a good team, everybody’s going to have to sacrifice. It’s not just Jason, starters are going to have to sacrifice.”
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