Carmelo Anthony and DeQuan Jones - USA TODAY Sports
Magic general manager Rob Hennigan signed only two free agents to his club in the offseason, but his minimum-salary investments in DeQuan Jones and E'Twaun Moore have paid off.
The Orlando Magic overhauled their roster in the summer of 2012, but did so primarily via trade. Its only free-agent additions were point guard E'Twaun Moore and swingman DeQuan Jones, two inexpensive complementary pieces who have produced well relative to their cost.
Orlando signed Moore, the Boston Celtics castoff and 55th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, in early September to a minimum-salary contract for two seasons, the second of which is fully unguaranteed. Moore has responded by leading the Magic in three-point shooting (39.1 percent), no mean feat for a second-year player on a team featuring snipers J.J. Redick, Arron Afflalo, and Jameer Nelson. Though Moore's still learning how to run an offense, his shooting and floor-spacing abilities are boons to the second unit. And when he's had to fill in for Nelson as a starter, he's come through, averaging 13.3 points on 43.2 percent shooting, and a scorching 46.7 percent from three-point range, in seven starts.
Jones, meanwhile, went from an afterthought in his senior season at Miami to winning a final NBA roster spot from, in Quentin Richardson, an established NBA veteran with a guaranteed salary. Jones' performance with Orlando's summer-league squad and in the preseason impressed Magic management to such a degree that it agreed to eat Richardson's contract in order to keep Jones, who, like Moore, will earn the league's minimum salary.
Jones isn't nearly as productive as Moore, but his defensive instincts on the wing, coupled with struggles from Hedo Türkoğlu and Maurice Harkless, have made him a starter for coach Jacque Vaughn's team. As a starter, Jones has averaged five points and 2.4 rebounds while playing dogged defense on All-Stars like Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, and Luol Deng.
Neither of these players will ever be a star, but credit Rob Hennigan, Orlando's new general manager, for finding this reasonably productive pair and a price that is, in the most literal sense, unbeatable.