Magic Rumors

2021 NBA Offseason Preview: Orlando Magic

Losing Jonathan Isaac to a torn ACL during last summer’s restart at Walt Disney World set the Magic back in a major way for the 2020/21 season, but the team still entered the year hoping to make the postseason for a third straight time. That wasn’t in the cards, however, as another ACL tear – this time for Markelle Fultz – and a handful of lesser injuries set Orlando back even further.

After a solid 6-2 start, the Magic cratered, falling to 13-27 by mid-March. That was around the time that top basketball executives Jeff Weltman and John Hammond decided a full-fledged teardown was in the franchise’s best long-term interests.

Nikola Vucevic? Gone. Aaron Gordon? Gone. Evan Fournier? Also gone. By the time the dust settled, the Magic were left with a few extra future first-round picks and an intriguing group of young players, with Isaac, Fultz, Chuma Okeke, and Mohamed Bamba joined by Wendell Carter and R.J. Hampton.

After the last retooling of the roster culminated in nothing more than a middle-of-the-pack squad, Magic fans may feel a bit discouraged to see their team start building from the ground up again. But Weltman, the team’s president of basketball operations, is optimistic about the outlook in Orlando. He told reporters last month that, since joining the organization, he’s never felt more excited about its future than he does right now.


The Magic’s Offseason Plan:

The Magic’s previous rebuild stalled out in part because the club either whiffed on some top picks (like Mario Hezonja) or failed to properly develop them and ultimately sold low (like Victor Oladipo).

No team has better odds than Orlando to land a top-four pick in this year’s draft, so the club is in a great position to secure a long-term cornerstone piece, and it’s important to get that pick right. If the Magic receive the Bulls’ top-four protected pick this year (it has better than 70% odds to land at No. 8 or No. 9), nailing that second lottery selection would a big step forward for the rebuild as well.

Otherwise, the Magic’s offseason could look a lot like that of the Rockets and Pistons — like those teams, Orlando doesn’t have much cap flexibility yet and shouldn’t be a major player in free agency, but could be more active on the trade market.

Gary Harris‘ $20MM expiring contract isn’t necessarily a net positive, but Harris remains a useful role player and that cap number isn’t too onerous to move — the Magic could probably get a modest asset in exchange for him if they’re willing to take on multiyear money in return.

Terrence Ross, who has two years and $23MM left on his deal, is the more attractive trade chip, since there will be no shortage of teams looking to add outside shooting at a reasonable price. While his dip in three-point percentage in 2020/21 (33.7%) may hurt his value, getting a first-round pick in a deal for Ross isn’t entirely out of the question, especially if Orlando takes an unwanted contract back for him.

Michael Carter-Williams, on an expiring $3.3MM contract, could be a trade chip as well, though the Magic might want to keep him around as a veteran mentor for Fultz.

It’s also worth noting that Carter and Bamba will be eligible for rookie scale extensions this offseason. I could see the Magic trying to work something out with Carter, like they did a year ago with Isaac and Fultz, but Bamba will probably have to show more next season to earn a second contract from the team.


Salary Cap Situation

Note: Our salary cap projections are based on a presumed 3% increase, which would result in a $112.4MM cap for 2021/22.

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

Two-Way Free Agents

Draft Picks

  • First-round pick (cap hold TBD) 3
  • First-round pick (cap hold TBD) 4
  • No. 33 overall pick (no cap hold)

Extension-Eligible Players

  • Mohamed Bamba (rookie scale)
  • Wendell Carter (rookie scale)
  • Gary Harris (veteran)
  • Terrence Ross (veteran)

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Offseason Cap Outlook

Although the Magic only have about $94MM in guaranteed salaries on their books for the time being and aren’t assured of bringing back any of their free agents, various cap holds and exceptions will likely push them over the cap, especially if they receive Chicago’s first-round pick.

Landing the No. 3 and No. 9 overall selections, for instance, would result in a combined cap hold of nearly $13MM. The team also had a trade exception worth $17MM+ that it won’t forfeit just to claim a small piece of cap space.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Mid-level exception: $9,536,000 7
  • Bi-annual exception: $3,732,000 7
  • Trade exception: $17,150,000
  • Trade exception: $4,272,060
  • Trade exception: $2,000,000

Footnotes

  1. Bacon’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after August 9.
  2. Because he’ll have four years of NBA service, Randle is ineligible to sign another two-way contract.
  3. The Magic’s own first-round pick is lottery-dependent. It could end up anywhere between 1-7.
  4. The Magic control the Bulls’ top-four protected first-round pick and have a 79.8% chance of receiving it. Assuming it doesn’t land in the top four, it could end up anywhere between 8-12.
  5. This is a projected value. Porter’s cap hit will be the maximum salary for a player with 7-9 years of NBA service.
  6. The cap holds for Afflalo and Speights remain on the Magic’s books from a prior season because they haven’t been renounced. They can’t be used in a sign-and-trade deal.
  7. These are projected values.

Salary and cap information from Basketball Insiders and RealGM was used in the creation of this post. Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nuggets’ Unseld Drawing Interest From Magic, Wizards

The Magic have requested permission to interview Nuggets associate head coach Wes Unseld Jr. for their head coaching vacancy, reports Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link).

While Singer doesn’t clarify whether Denver granted Orlando permission, there’s no reason to believe the Nuggets wouldn’t do so. When Unseld received a promotion last December, head coach Michael Malone said in a statement that his top assistant was “ready and deserving of a head coaching position in the NBA,” adding that it would only be a matter of time before that opportunity came.

Unseld is also expected to be in the mix for the Wizards‘ newly-opened head coaching job, a league source tells Singer (Twitter link).

Unseld has previously worked as an assistant coach for both the Wizards (2005-11) and Magic (2012-15), so he’s already familiar with both franchises.

It’s worth noting that his father, Hall-of-Famer Wes Unseld Sr., was a D.C. icon. The elder Unseld earned five All-Star nods and an MVP award in Baltimore and Washington for the then-Bullets, then coached the team and later held a front office role. However, it remains to be seen whether that history would make his son more inclined to pursue the Wizards’ job over an opportunity with the Magic or another team.

Southeast Notes: Hunter, Young, Dragic, Thornwell, Adebayo

Hawks‘ second-year forward De’Andre Hunter underwent surgery today for a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee, according to a team press release. He is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for the start of preseason.

Hunter had a breakout start to his second year in the NBA, but his season was derailed by knee injuries after just 18 games and several attempts at an early return went poorly. He looked to be rounding back into shape during the Hawks’ first-round series against the Knicks, but started experiencing swelling that caused him to miss the first two games of the team’s series against the Sixers before the injury was announced.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks guard Trae Young is being listed as probable for Game Five due to right shoulder soreness, tweets Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Young said that he injured the shoulder in Game Three but kept it to himself due to a desire to play in Game Four, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “I wasn’t gonna tell nobody anyways other than the training staff,” he said, which may explain why head coach Nate McMillan claimed to have not known about the injury prior to tip-off. Young finished the game with 25 points and 18 assists, tied for second-most in Hawks history, as he helped lead the team to a comeback victory to tie the series at two games apiece.
  • Heat guard Goran Dragiccoming off a magical Finals run, had a disappointing season by his own standards, much of which was due to a string of injuries that prevented him from getting any real rhythm. The Slovenian guard opened up about his struggles with injuries, as Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. “I think I opened the season pretty well. I played well,” Dragic said. “Then just nagging injuries, a couple of injuries, COVID protocols, players in and out of the lineup. Sometimes you’re starting, sometimes not. It’s tough to catch a rhythm like that when you play two or three games and then you’re out for nine.” He’s hoping that this offseason will give him time to get his body right and be ready for next season. Dragic has a $19.4MM team option this summer, which the Heat will have to make a decision on.
  • Sindarius Thornwell may not have had a huge impact on the Magic in his seven games with the team, but he proved himself a capable defender and physical player, writes Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. But Orlando is going into the offseason with a roster filled with promising guards, and Thornwell is likely the odd man out. Parry writes that Thornwell could parlay his play with the Magic into a deal with another team.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald examines whether it could be worth it for the Heat to explore trading Bam Adebayo in a package for a star such as Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal, and what the ramifications of such a move could look like.

Magic To Interview Jason Kidd For Head Coaching Job

The Lakers have granted permission to assistant coach Jason Kidd to interview with the Magic for their head coaching position, reports Melissa Rohlin of FOX Sports (Twitter link). According to Rohlin, Kidd will interview with Orlando this week.

It’s the second time today we’ve heard Kidd mentioned in connection with the Magic’s head coaching vacancy. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said this morning that the Lakers assistant is being linked to that job more and more frequently by people around the NBA.

[RELATED: 2021 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Kidd has two stints as a head coach under his belt, having led the Nets for a single season in 2013/14, then the Bucks from 2014-18. He had a combined regular season record of 183-190 (.491) during his four-and-a-half years as a head coach in Brooklyn and Milwaukee, with a playoff mark of 9-15 (.375), including a lone series win in 2014.

The Lakers have reportedly been impressed with Kidd’s work on Frank Vogel‘s staff during the last two seasons and believe he should be a head coaching candidate again this offseason. He has already been linked to multiple vacancies, though he withdrew his name from consideration for one position, pulling out of the Blazers’ search after being publicly endorsed by Damian Lillard.

Teams with interest in Kidd figure to take a close look at his past run-ins with the law. He pleaded guilty to a domestic abuse charge in 2001 and to a misdemeanor DWI charge in 2013. However, his legal history hasn’t prevented him from being hired for multiple jobs since then.

Coaching Rumors: Magic, Bucks, Pacers, McMillan, Borrego

Of all the active head coaching searches around the NBA, the Magic‘s appears to be the most fluid, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Kenny Atkinson, identified last week as a candidate for the job, has been the named most frequently linked to Orlando’s vacancy, says Fischer, but the search is expected to be wide-ranging.

Lakers assistant Jason Kidd has been connected more and more to the Magic’s opening, per Fischer, who notes that Kidd has a connection to Orlando general manager John Hammond — the two worked in Milwaukee together from 2014-17 after Hammond hired Kidd as the Bucks’ head coach.

Former Warriors assistant Jarron Collins has talked to the Magic, sources tell Bleacher Report. Fischer says Nets assistant Ime Udoka is another candidate league sources have “strongly linked” the Orlando job, though there’s a sense Udoka may have more interest in the Celtics‘ job. Sixers assistant Sam Cassell may also be on the Magic’s radar, according to Fischer, who says Cassell would be popular among Orlando’s returning players.

Here are several more coaching-related notes and rumors from Fischer’s latest report:

  • With the Bucks tied at 2-2 in their second-round series, Mike Budenholzer is in a better position now than he was a few days ago, but if Milwaukee falls short of the Finals, there’s an expectation the team may make a change, per Fischer. In that scenario, Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee could be candidates for a promotion, since the team may just want a change at the top rather than an overhaul of the entire coaching staff, Fischer notes.
  • If the Bucks make a change, Mike D’Antoni would likely have interest in the job, and Olimpia Milano coach Ettore Messina would be another name to keep an eye on, Fischer writes. Rick Carlisle could also receive interest from Milwaukee, Fischer adds, though Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has said Carlisle’s not going anywhere.
  • Among the teams seeking a new coach, the Pacers appear to be the club most focused on hiring someone with previous head coaching experience, Fischer reports. Given how badly the hire of first-time head coach Nate Bjorkgren worked out, that’s not a huge surprise.
  • All indications are that Nate McMillan will sign a new contract with the Hawks to become the team’s permanent head coach, but until that happens, he’ll likely receive interest from other teams with coaching openings, including the Celtics, says Fischer.
  • Sources tell Fischer that the Hornets and head coach James Borrego are expected to work out a contract extension this offseason.

Terrence Ross Found New Ways To Score This Season

Becky Hammon To Interview For Trail Blazers’ Head Coaching Job

Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is among the candidates who will be interviewed for the Trail Blazers‘ head coaching vacancy, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Sources tell Charania that other names on Portland’s list include Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni, Spurs vice president of basketball operations Brent Barry and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.

Either Hammon or Staley would make history by becoming the NBA’s first-ever female head coach. Hammon will also interview for the head coaching job with the Magic, Charania adds.

Hammon, 44, has been on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio since 2014. She became the first woman to serve as a head coach in the Summer League in 2015 and was the first female on an All-Star Game coaching staff in 2016.

Staley, 51, is a member of both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She has coached the South Carolina women’s team since 2008 and has been coach of the USA national women’s team since 2017.

A report this week identified Billups and D’Antoni as candidates in Portland, with Billups considered to be the front-runner. He is also rumored to be in contention for the Celtics’ coaching vacancy.

After retiring from the NBA, Barry spent several years as a broadcaster before joining the Spurs in a front-office role in 2018. He has no previous coaching experience.

How Randle Helped Orlando; Magic Rebuild/Coaching Hire Timelines

Magic reserve point guard Chasson Randle, who signed a two-way contract with the club in February, helped shore up the Orlando bench’s ball-handling and shooting needs, writes Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. In 41 games with Orlando (including five starts), Randle averaged 6.5 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.8 APG and 0.5 SPG across just 20.4 MPG. He posted a slash line of .388/.338/.792. Randle, 27, played for the Sixers, Knicks, and Warriors prior to his Magic tenure.

  • The Magic announced their intentions to enter full rebuild mode with a trio of trades this season, dealing veterans Nikola Vučević, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier for young players and future draft equity. In a mailbag, Josh Robbins of The Athletic takes a look at timelines for the team’s rebuild and hiring a new head coach, plus other items. Robbins anticipates that the Magic will take as long as they need to accrue players with All-NBA ceilings, and that they’re in better position to take a chance on a more inexperienced coach than some other “win-now” clubs with similar vacancies.

Porter Jr. Barely Suited Up For Magic

  • Otto Porter Jr. didn’t get much of a chance to show what he could do for the Magic due to injuries, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel writes. Porter was acquired by Orlando from Chicago at the trade deadline to make the salaries match up in the Nikola Vucevic blockbuster. Porter, an unrestricted free agent this summer, was limited to three games with the Magic due to a foot injury.
  • The first step in the Magic’s latest rebuild begins with the return of starters Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz from major knee injuries, Parry writes in a separate story. The draft is another key, since the Magic could have two top-10 picks, if the Bulls’ pick they own doesn’t move into the top four. They could also move Gary Harris or Terrence Ross for more cap flexibility or assets, Parry adds.

Penny Hardaway Drawing Interest As NBA Coaching Candidate

NBA teams are making calls to gather intel on University of Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that Hardaway is expected to get offers to interview for NBA jobs this offseason.

A four-time All-Star as an NBA player, Hardaway has slowly been climbing the coaching ladder over the last decade. After several years in the high school ranks, he was hired by Memphis in 2018 and has landed top recruits like James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa in recent years. The Tigers haven’t made the NCAA tournament since Hardaway joined the program, but had a 20-8 record and were NIT champions in 2020/21.

It’s not clear which teams might offer Hardaway an interview – or if he’d be open to leaving Memphis – but the Celtics, Pacers, Magic, and Trail Blazers currently have head coaching openings.

Another noteworthy college coach, Juwan Howard of Michigan, continues to draw NBA interest as well, but he has been telling teams that he has no interest in leaving the Wolverines, according to Wojnarowski. Howard, who was specifically identified as a potential Blazers candidate, also rebuffed NBA interest in 2020.