Sunday night, the Golden State Warriors bought out the contract of power forward Troy Murphy, freeing him to sign with a playoff team, reports Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. However, Murphy will not sign with the Orlando Magic, says ESPN's Marc Stein, despite rumors linking Murphy with Orlando dating back over a month. Instead, both Kawakami and Stein say, Murphy will sign with the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat.
As detailed on this site before, Murphy has a strong connection to the Orlando franchise. He spent the earliest days of his career alongside Magic guards Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas in Golden State, where Magic President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith served in the front office. Murphy, Richardson, and Magic superstar Dwight Howard share an agent, Dan Fegan, who also consults with Arenas from time to time. And, with Orlando's well-documented desire to add another big man to its roster, the Notre Dame product would seem to be a natural fit.
But Kawakami and Stein believe Murphy will choose between Boston and Miami only, which runs counter to what we used to expect; one well-regarded NBA writer told Orlando Pinstriped Post less than two weeks ago that Murphy would "probably" choose the Magic over any competitior due to Fegan's influence.
To be eligible to appear in the playoffs for a team other than their current one, a given player must become a free agent by Tuesday, March 2nd. He need not have signed with a new team by that date, however, which is a common misconception. The passing of that date will give us a final look at the list of players from whom Orlando may choose if indeed it decides it needs an additional power forward or center to boost its chances of winning a championship.