The NBA's 2013 free-agent period begins Monday, July 1st, at midnight, after which time teams are permitted to discuss contract terms with free agents. The two parties can enter non-binding agreements during this period, but cannot officially sign any deals until the league's moratorium on player movement--a moratorium which includes trades--lifts on July 10th.
The Orlando Magic are rebuilding their team after the departure of Dwight Howard via trade in August 2012, but don't figure to be significant factors in free agency. Orlando went a league-worst 20-62 in the first year of its rebuilding project and is taking a measured approach to putting itself back together. Committing lots of long-term dollars to any of the top-line free agents available would run counter to that strategy.
Expect the Magic to work around the fringes of free agency, signing maybe one or two young players to cheap, short-term contracts. In his first year helming the Magic, general manager Rob Hennigan took this approach, signing only E'Twaun Moore and DeQuan Jones to minimum-salary contracts in September.
"I think we'll be active, but probably not super active [in free agency]," Hennigan said at a news conference Friday.
Who are the Magic's free agents?
DeQuan Jones: The Magic did not extend Jones a qualifying offer, so he'll be an unrestricted free agent. There is a chance that Jones would return to the Magic on a minimum contract, as he will play for them in the Orlando Pro Summer League.
Beno Udrih: The veteran point guard played admirably after arriving from the Milwaukee Bucks via trade in February, providing steadiness backing up--and, late in the season, starting for--Jameer Nelson. Udrih turns 31 on July 5th and is coming off a season in which he earned more than $7 million. He'll likely want to join a winning team, and it's unclear whether the Magic would even be interested in paying him market value, which could be in the $3 million range. His strong relationships with Hennigan and coach Jacque Vaughn, dating from the trio's time together with the San Antonio Spurs, could play a role in Udrih's decision-making.
How much cap space do the Magic have?
None. As Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com wrote in June, the Traded Player Exception that Orlando received as part of the Howard trade will eat into all of its cap space in 2013, and that's even if the Magic waive or buy out Hedo Türkoğlu and Al Harrington.
The Magic can free cap space by renouncing the TPE, if they want to. It expires on August 10th.
How can the Magic sign free agents?
Even without cap space, the Magic can still make additions via free agency if they choose.
The most valuable exception at Orlando's disposal is the mid-level exception, which Deeks' site says will be worth $4.2 million in 2012/13. Teams can split the mid-level on more than one player, as the Magic did in 2010 when Otis Smith signed Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson with it, or they can spend it all on one player, as Smith did with Mickaël Piétrus in 2008. Annual raises on mid-level contracts can be as large as 4.5 percent. These contracts are capped at four years.
Another tool for Orlando to use is the bi-annual exception, to which Orlando has access because it did not use this exception in 2012/13. It's worth $1.97 million and, like the MLE, can be split between more than one player. BAE contracts are capped at two seasons. The most recent Magic bi-annual signee was Anthony Johnson in 2008.
If the Magic dip below the salary cap, they will lose access to the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions, but they will gain the access to the room mid-level exception. The room exception starts at $2.65 million, according to Larry Coon's NBA salary-cap guide, with maximum annual raises of 4.5 percent and maximum length of two seasons. Like the other above-mentioned exceptions, it can be split on more than one player.
Regardless of whether the Magic are over or under the cap, they'll be allowed to sign players with the minimum exception, which is exactly what it sounds like: a way for teams to add players on minimum-salary deals. These contracts are capped at two seasons, and the second season is always at the minimum salary. As mentioned earlier in this post, Hennigan made the Magic's only free-agent signings in 2012 via this exception.
What are the league's other teams up to?
SB Nation has complete coverage of the 2013 NBA free-agent period in this space.