If it's late February in the NBA, it's veteran buyout season. Players not waived by March 1st are ineligible to play in the postseason, so veterans on non-contenders quite often offer to pay for their freedom so they can sign with a championship-caliber team. P.J. Brown, Sam Cassell, Stephon Marbury, Mikki Moore, and Joe Smith are among the higher-profile players to switch teams in this way in the last 2 seasons.
The Orlando Magic don't appear to need to add another player so far this year. Coach Stan Van Gundy has established a consistent ten-man rotation and the team is arguably the deepest in the league. Yet one potential buyout candidate might catch their eye for what he can bring to the team in the locker room and on the practice floor.
I'm referring to, of course, power forward Tony Battie. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports and Art Garcia of NBA.com report that he's among the most likely players to gain his release before Monday's deadline, and he has strong ties to the Magic. Battie spent the five seasons prior to this one in Orlando, appearing in 306 games, the 14th-highest total in Magic history. The Magic initially acquired him from the Cavaliers in July 2004, wanting a veteran to mentor Dwight Howard, then a rookie, in his transition from high school to the NBA. Howard and Battie became close friends, and when Orlando dealt Battie to the New Jersey Nets as part of the Vince Carter trade, Howard expressed some sadness:
Tony was like my older brother here in Orlando. He’s been here five years, the same as me. He’s always been in my ear, giving me advice on how to handle things. He was always in my corner, no matter what happened. I’m going to miss him.
The Magic have signed players for their off-court presence before, most recently Adonal Foyle, who re-joined them last year after Orlando sent him to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of the three-team deal which netted it Rafer Alston. Though Orlando is in the luxury tax, signing Battie to a pro-rated minimum deal would not cost it too much money, and it would have a positive effect on the locker room.
Should the Magic consider adding Battie if he's available? About whom else should they inquire?