Note: In this series, Orlando Pinstriped Post examines some free agents who may be options for the Orlando Magic as they continue their rebuild. This installment, which Tyler Lashbrook wrote before the Magic signed Jason Maxiell, focuses on Cole Aldrich. We're placing it in the FanPosts in order to keep the main page focused on the latest news. - Ed.
Cole Aldrich's ceiling isn't very high. He's never going to be a top big man in the NBA. But he's a really big dude. And if he can find the right home, then he might develop into your lunch-pail, gritty big man who can give you decent-to-good reserve minutes.
NBA career so far:
Aldrich's junior season at Kansas was a major disappointment after a promising sophomore season in which he averaged 14.9 points and 11.8 rebounds on 59.8 percent shooting from the floor and 79.2 percent shooting from the free throw line. Each of those stats took a dip in his junior season. He salvaged his positioning by entering the 2010 NBA Draft rather than return to Lawrence, Kan., and risk his stock dropping even further.
The Oklahoma City Thunder took him 11th in that Draft. In his rookie year, the Thunder shipped him back and forth between themselves and the Tulsa 66ers, OKC's NBA D-League affiliate, throughout the entire season. That playing time remained stagnant in his second season, though he did appear in five playoff games. In eight and a half minutes, he scored seven points and grabbed six rebounds in Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the 2012 playoffs.
In October 2012, Aldrich, 24, the Thunder included Aldrich in the controversial trade that sent Thunder star James Harden to the Houston Rockets. Aldrich appeared in 30 games with the Rockets before they shipped him to the Sacramento Kings in February of 2013. He played 175 minutes for the Kings, but Sacramento renounced his rights in the offseason, making the former Kansas big man an unrestricted free agent.
Why he might fit in with the Magic:
Aldrich is going to do two things: rebound and foul. He's not going to force his own offense -- his 12.3 percent usage rate will not go up or down significantly. For his career he averages nine points and 10.4 rebounds per 36 minutes on 54 percent shooting. He also shoots over 70 percent from the free-throw line for his career, which is always good to see out of a big man.
His problem comes with his fouling. He averages 5.7 fouls per 36 minutes for his career. It was a glaring problem at Kansas and it's continued to the NBA. He can't get enough minutes on the floor because he gets himself in foul trouble so quickly.
Why he might not fit in with the Magic:
The front court is really crowded. At power forward the Magic have Maxiell, Glen Davis, Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson, and, until they buy him out, Al Harrington. At center there's Nikola Vucevic and Kyle O`Quinn. Conventional wisdom would suggest that Aldrich could come in and become the third center. From there he could help out if Vucevic and O'Quinn get in foul trouble. Problem with that is how often Aldrich finds himself in foul trouble. Ironic, right?
Like everyone else we've profiled, Aldrich would be a cheap pickup. He's got great size at 6-foot-11 and 240 pounds with a 7-foot-4.75 wingspan, per DraftExpress. Big men tend to develop later in their careers and if Aldrich can get his foul trouble under control, then he might become a long-term backup big who could come in and give you defense, rebounding, and hard pick-setting. And he can do all of that while being reliable at the free throw line. Low-risk, decent reward. Why not? Will Orlando's signing of Maxiell to a two-year, $5 million deal mark the end of the Orlando's presence in free agency? Only time will tell.