The Orlando Magic had a busy Thursday, trading four players and receiving three others in return. Orlando dealt J.J. Redick, Ish Smith, and Gustavo Ayón to the Milwaukee Bucks for Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb, and Beno Udrih, while the Magic sent Josh McRoberts to the Charlotte Bobcats for cash considerations. Orlando technically received Hakim Warrick from Charlotte, but it will waive Warrick in order to free a roster spot.
The Milwaukee deal happened quickly, Magic general Rob Hennigan said Thursday night in a press conference. "We made the decision at about 2:56 Eastern time, and that's not hyperbolic," Hennigan said. "That's the truth. It came right down to the wire." The trade deadline was set for 3 PM.
Though the Redick trade didn't come together until moments before the deadline, Orlando was active in the days and hours leading up to it. Hennigan said the Magic spoke to "a dozen teams, or so" about various trades, not all of them involving Redick, before making Thursday's moves.
"At the end of the day, we liked the Milwaukee deal because we felt we were able to get back some players who address some needs for us, we get some players who we feel fit the timeline that we're trying to put together to create a competitive window," Hennigan said.
Later, Orlando's GM said "this was a deal we had to do."
Several factors came into play Thursday. Ultimately, the Magic's goals as they rebuild are to soundly manage the salary cap and to add players "who are about the right things," to use Hennigan's term. The Magic want "to create something that's sustainable," and Thursday's moves help them in that respect, according to Hennigan.
Paying Redick a challenge
Redick's pending free agency played a role in the Magic's decision to trade him, Hennigan said, as did the fact that Orlando already has Arron Afflalo under contract at shooting guard. "That was part of the puzzle," Hennigan said. "There are some inherent challenges when you look at the money that you have to spend on a team and at certain positions." When pressed, however, Hennigan said that trading Redick "was not inevitable."
Harris' fit with Harkless
On the surface, Harris might seem redundant for a Magic team which already employs one young small forward, Moe Harkless, with limited shooting range. Hennigan disputed the idea that the players are similar, however.
"We see them as different players," said Hennigan. "We see them as doing different things. In fact, I think they can complement each other fairly well. Our scouting staff felt the same way."
He praised Harkless and Harris for improving at both ends of the floor before summing how Orlando views both youngsters: "We don't necessarily see a lot of overlap, and both players, because of the kinds of workers they are, we feel like they'll continue to improve their shooting ability."
Thoughts on Lamb
Lamb gives Orlando a rookie shooting guard who may be able to shift to point guard in some lineups. Hennigan offered the following assessment of Lamb's game:
I think it gives us some more depth in our backcourt. We were really intrigued with Doron during his college days, and the skill set that he provides. He's savvy, he can make shots, he can handle the ball. He does a little bit of everything at both guard positions.
Lamb joins a Magic backcourt that already includes E'Twaun Moore, another young combo guard. His presence could create a bit of a logjam, but Hennigan said he'll let coach Jacque Vaughn decide the rotations.
"He's gonna play guys based on merit and based on who's working, and who's putting the time in in practice, and who's producing," Hennigan said. "It'll be an equal-opportunity situation, I'm sure."
Familiarity with Udrih a plus
Hennigan's relationship with Udrih dates to 2004, when the San Antonio Spurs, for whom Henningan interned, drafted the Slovenian with the 24th pick in the draft. He acknowledged that his familiarity with Udrih played a role in his willingness to take on the veteran point guard.
"We know Beno," Hennigan said. "We know what he's about. So we were comfortable bringing him into the fold and we're comfortable with the thought that he can help our backcourt. And he's a good person. He can still play. It's always nice when you have a preexisting relationship you can fall back on.
"Definitely, having had that preexisting relationship helped give us some confidence that this makes some sense for us."
After the Spurs drafted Udrih, Hennigan's task was to drive him around San Antonio to hunt for apartments. "We joked today that if he asks me to drive him around to find an apartment here, I probably still will, but I'm not gonna willingly do that for him," Hennigan said.
Udrih will be a free agent when the season ends. Hennigan said he hasn't considered if he'd be interested in re-signing him. "We'll certainly evaluate that possibility throughout the rest of the season," said Hennigan.
When will they play?
Harris, Lamb, and Udrih will report to Orlando on Friday to take their physicals, so they will not be available for that night's game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Hennigan said the plan is for them to play "as soon as possible." Playing Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers might be a realistic goal, but there's no guarantee the newcomers will be available for that game either.
Explaining the Charlotte trade
Orlando's trade with the Bobcats freed a roster spot for the Magic, as they will waive Warrick. Creating that roster spot was the goal for Orlando, and Hennigan mentioned that the Magic could "explore [...] some players out of the D-League or the minor-league system that we may wanna take a look at."
The deal was also about sending McRoberts to a team where he might have a more consistent role. "Josh didn't have a ton of minutes, at least consistently, and we felt that it was important to move him to a situation where he can play and get some more burn."
And yes, Hennigan acknowledged that Charlotte's inclusion of cash considerations "made the deal more palatable for us."
Message for fans
Hennigan recognizes that Orlando's fans may not be happy with the direction the team has taken since the team hired him as general manager in June. In less than a year on the job, Hennigan has traded Dwight Howard, the best player in franchise history; Ryan Anderson, the reigning Most Improved Player winner; and Redick, one of the most beloved players in Orlando history.
"Our job as a management staff is to try to remove that emotion as best we can and focus on decisions that we feel are in the best interests of the organization," Hennigan said. "With the landscape the way it is now, the rules the way they are, I think you have to be strategic and thoughtful and wise in how you build your team and how you spend your money. And we're trying to be really methodical in deciding what that looks like."
The Magic will eventually be able to add big-name players, instead of trading them away. "We'll get there," Hennigan said when specifically asked about adding "proven," "older" players.
A Magic spokesman informed the media that Harris will wear no. 12, while Lamb has selected no. 1 and Udrih chose no. 19. The Magic will not issue Warrick a uniform number.