clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why C.J. Watson is No Longer an Option for the Orlando Magic

Not to rain on any Orlando Magic fan's parade after the all-but-official signing of small forward Matt Barnes, which you can discuss here, but we do need to explain how that signing eliminates the possibility of their signing point guard C.J. Watson to an offer sheet. An NBA source told Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel that the Magic will look at cheaper point guard options.

It is, as you might expect, a matter of money. A report by Tim Povtak of AOL FanHouse surfaced on Friday evening saying the Magic were preparing an offer sheet to tender to Watson, whose free-agent rights belong to the Golden State Warriors. Povtak said Watson could sign the offer sheet as early as the weekend, after which point the Warriors would have seven days to either match the offer, and thus retain him, or to let him join the Magic.

However, the Magic have chose Barnes over Watson, in essence. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that Barnes' deal is worth $3.2 million dollars, split evenly across two seasons, with the second season at Barnes' option. The $1.6 million comes from the mid-level exception money left over from signing Brandon Bass to a four-year deal worth $16 million--an even $4 million per year, according to Marc Stein. Orlando now has a mere $254,000 of the mid-level left to offer a free agent. That's roughly $200,000 less than the minimum salary for a player with no prior NBA experience. In short, that money will go unused.

In theory, the Magic could offer Watson a contract starting at $825,497, which is the minimum salary for a two-year veteran. Watson earned $711,517 last season, and is understandably seeking a raise. According to Marcus Thompson II of the Oakland Tribune, he rejected a one-year deal from the Philadelphia 76ers worth $2.3 million, because he wants a longer-term deal of at least 3 years. Even if we assume he'll take a slightly lower annual salary than Philadelphia offered him in order to ink a three-year deal, he probably wouldn't accept anything less than $6 million. According to Larry Coon's Salary-Cap FAQ (scroll down to the chart, just above Question 20), players signed to minimum contracts can only receive pay increases commensurate with their level of experience in the league--as opposed to some other contracts, where raises are made on a percentage basis--and can only sign for a maximum of two seasons. Thus, Watson would earn $885,120 in his second year with Orlando, Add it up, and you'll see the most he would stand to earn with Orlando is $1,710,617 over two seasons, which is less than one-third of the money he conceivably earn elsewhere, with one fewer guaranteed year. It wouldn't make sense for a player of Watson's age (25) to take such a drastic pay cut, which is why he's out of the Magic's realm of possibility.

So Orlando will go back to the drawing board, likely looking at bargain-bin veterans such as Anthony Carter, Juan Dixon, Brevin Knight, Kevin Ollie, and Jacque Vaughn in order to fill their third point guard role. Nobody else has the sort of dazzling appeal Watson--a young, three-point-shooting, foul-drawing, ace--has. But either way, Magic GM Otis Smith has addressed two dire needs this offseason, as Barnes provides competent backup at both forward positions and Brandon Bass gives the Magic a young, bruising big man to help them tangle with beefier front lines. Count the upgrade Vince Carter provides over Hedo Turkoglu and you'll see Orlando can boast an offseason as good as any other team's, at least so far. All that's left on the shopping list is a third-string point guard.

Otis doin' work, indeed.

After the jump, a look at the Magic's salary commitments for next season, presented without comment.

2009/2010 Orlando Magic Salaries, as of July 21st, 2009
Rashard Lewis $18,010,791
Vince Carter $16,123,250
Dwight Howard $15,202,590
Jameer Nelson $7,700,000
Marcin Gortat $5,854,000
Mickael Pietrus $5,300,000
Brandon Bass $4,000,000
J.J. Redick $2,839,408
Anthony Johnson $2,062,800
Matt Barnes $1,600,000
Ryan Anderson $1,317,120
TOTAL $80,009,959