Orlando Magic Trade Deadline Primer, Part Four: Earl Clark and the Magic's Cheap Prospects

Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE

The Orlando Magic find themselves in a difficult spot as the 2012 NBA trade deadline approaches. The future of the franchise hangs in the balance as it decides what to do with All-Star center Dwight Howard. Does management heed the trade request he made during training camp, or instead retain him, hoping he can be convinced to re-sign when he becomes a free agent in the summer? Can the team make a trade for a high-level star before Thursday to appease Howard's request for a stronger supporting cast and boost its chances of competing with the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls atop the Eastern Conference?

In this series, Orlando Pinstriped Post runs down the roster to look at the Magic's assets. All salary information comes from ShamSports.

Part four focuses on Earl Clark, Justin Harper, DeAndre Liggins, Daniel Orton, Ish Smith, and Von Wafer, the Magic's young and cheap deep bench.

  • Earl Clark

    • Age: 24; Position: Power Forward/Small Forward

    • Contract details: On a veteran contract worth $1.24 million through 2012/13, at his option.

    • Key career stats: 8.8 Player Efficiency Rating, 11.6 points per 36 minutes, 7.3 rebounds per 36 minutes, 1.6 blocks per 36 minutes, 42.8 percent True Shooting.

    • My take: Now in his third season, Clark is still searching for that one bankable skill that'll ensure he'll be able to stick in the NBA. Yes, he rebounds reasonably well--especially on the offensive glass, where the lack of attention he commands enables him to get great position--and he's developing as a shot-blocker, but he's such an offensive liability it's hard for Van Gundy to play him more than merely situationally. Clark is simply brutal offensively, with a career field-goal percentage of 39.3 percent despite rarely shooting threes.

      There probably isn't much demand for Clark around the league. The Magic might be able to get a future second-round draft choice for the former lottery pick, but teams may be reluctant to even part with that much, knowing Clark can be had this summer, if he opts for free agency, without needing to sacrifice a pick.

  • Justin Harper

    • Age: 22; Position: Power Forward

    • Contract details: On a minimum contract worth $762,195 through 2012/13.

    • My take: The Magic rated Harper highly in the 2011 NBA Draft, sending two future second-round selections to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the rights to the former Richmond Spider. However, Harper hasn't been able to carve a role for himself, and as a result has played just 17 minutes--none of them meaningful--over six games in his rookie campaign. There isn't a market for Harper by himself--he likely wouldn't even fetch a second-round pick, given how low his stock is--but it's not difficult to imagine him as ballast in a larger deal.

  • DeAndre Liggins

    • Age: 23; Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward

    • Contract details: On a minimum contract worth $473,604 through this season.

    • My take: Liggins has made the most of his limited opportunities, logging 38 minutes in five games thanks to his energy and willingness to defend; on a Stan Van Gundy -coached team, there's no better way for a young player to earn time than to defend and play hard. Though it's hard to draw too many conclusions from 33 minutes' worth of data, Liggins grades out as an above-average defender with great athleticism. He's a long-term prospect, and certainly worth a close look.

      Because Liggins is making the smallest possible NBA salary, it's very unlikely he'll be traded on his own.

  • Daniel Orton

    • Age: 21; Position: Center

    • Contract details: On a rookie contract worth $1.1 million through this season.

    • My take: Orlando didn't exercise the third-year option on Orton's contract, which sends a strong signal that the project center simply isn't in the team's plans, even if it loses Howard. A report last week indicated the Magic would look to move Orton for a future draft pick. If the Magic included enough cash in the deal to cover the former Kentucy Wildcat's remaining salary, it'd enable another team to get a free look at a young big-man prospect. Still, I don't think the chances of the Magic getting anything of value for Orton are terribly good.

  • Ish Smith

    • Age: 23; Position: Point Guard

    • Contract details: On a minimum contract worth $762,195 through 2012/13.

    • Key career stats: 9.5 Player Efficiency Rating, 9.1 points per 36 minutes, 6.4 assists per 36 minutes, 2.5 turnovers per 36 minutes, 41.3 percent True Shooting.

    • My take: Orlando signed Smith out of the NBA D-League as an emergency point guard when it realized playing Larry Hughes rotation minutes behind Chris Duhon while Jameer Nelson was hurt wasn't a viable solution. In the month since, Smith has played sparingly, logging just 38 minutes over five games. Given the surplus of similar-caliber players in the D-League and free-agent pool, Smith isn't likely to fetch anything via trade. If dealt, it'll only be as salary ballast, something to which Smith is accustomed: the Houston Rockets sent him to the Memphis Grizzlies in a trade package at the 2011 trading deadline.

  • Von Wafer

    • Age: 26; Position: Shooting Guard

    • Contract details: On a veteran contract worth $2.4 million (none guaranteed) through 2013/14.

    • Key career stats: 11.8 Player Efficiency Rating, 15.5 points per 36 minutes, 51.3 percent True Shooting, 32.3 percent three-point shooting.

    • My take: The Magic acquired Wafer on the cheap in the Brandon Bass-for-Glen Davis swap with the Boston Celtics, and he played well for them in the season's early going. He's since fallen out of the playing rotation, but given his overall solid productivity and fair price--he can be waived in either of the next two offseasons, with no penalty, as his contract is fully unguaranteed--he might have value around the league as a trade chip.

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