I'm as devastated by this trade as anyone else, and I understand why the media is scratching their heads and Magic fans are drafting their suicide notes. But now that I've had an hour to decompress, and evaluate the situation, I do think we have some reasons to be optimistic about the future. Here's a quick list.
Afflalo is an athletic wingman, exactly what Orlando has needed for years, who can score and defend. He also leaves everything he has on the floor, which seems to be something Rob Hennigan covets. But for me the best part is his contract. It is decidedly decent. He's locked in through 2015/2016 for roughly $7.8 million per season. He's 26 now, entering his prime, and his deal ends just as the inevitable over-30 wingman decline kicks in.
Keep in mind, Otis Smith re-signed Jason Richardson for over $6 million a season just as he turned 31, locking him in through 2015. Insanity.
To lock up a solid wing for under $8 million per season is a pretty awesome value.
2. Cap flexibility
Al Harrington is basically owed $7 million after next season and can be bought out easily. Vucevic has a team option, and only costs $1.8 million anyway. Alex Kennedy is reporting Christian Eyenga could also come over from the Lakers, another $1.8 million expiring. Not sure what Harkless' contract looks like, but it's a rookie deal, so he'll be cheap.
When you look at the remaining Magic roster, Hedo Turkoglu is only owed $6 million next summer, and will likely be bought out like Harrington. Quentin Richardson has a player option for $2.8 million and can probably be easily bought out, too. Justin Harper has a qualifying offer of just over $1 million, or he can be let go.
Assuming Jason Richardson and Chris Duhon are included, that clears a decent amount of space, particularly with regard to Richardson.
As MagicBBallOnline tweeted earlier tonight, the Magic can essentially put themselves nearly $40 million under the cap next summer. Some of this would be contingent upon parting ways with some of the young, cheap talent we've acquired, like Gustavo Ayon and/or Nikola Vucevic.
Other than Davis, Nelson, and Afflalo (and Nicholson/O'Quinn for chump change) anything goes for Rob Hennigan after this season. He'll have a whole lot of money to play with, our own lottery pick/s and the picks included in the Howard trade.
And isn't that what he wanted? Isn't that the Oklahoma City model?
3. Summer of 2013 in Free Agency
We're not talking 2010 here, obviously. Howard and Bynum are out, Paul is almost certainly out. But there is plenty of talent in this class including, coincidentally, James Harden (restricted).
4. 2014 NBA Draft
I'm skipping 2013 because, as of right now, there's no one in this class I'm terribly excited about. The projected #1 pick according to NBADraft.net is Cody Zeller, Tyler Zeller's brother, a 7 footer who can't block or rebound very well. Huzzah.
2014 brings Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, guys we will more than likely be in the running for.
But in both classes and beyond, I'm holding out hope that Rob Hennigan knows how to evaluate talent and will put his draft picks to work.
So, to sum it up, tonight Rob Hennigan put the Magic in a position to dive back into the lottery, rather than wasting away in First Round Exit Purgatory, while freeing up serious cap space next summer and adding a solid, young wing player at a great value in Afflalo.
It all hinges on what kind of GM he is. But you can't judge that based on this deal, because this deal merely freed him up to show us what he can do.
As far as that goes, all things considered, I'm pretty optimistic.