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Stein: Orlando Magic Interested in Troy Murphy if He, New Jersey Nets Reach Buyout Agreement

The Orlando Magic figure to be interested in the New Jersey Nets Troy Murphy if the Nets buy out the veteran power forward, reports Marc Stein of New Jersey coach Avery Johnson has played Murphy just 18 times this season, and not once in the last three weeks, as he's focused on developing third overall draft choice Derrick Favors and Kris Humphries. Murphy isn't in the Nets' plans anymore, and as Stein explains, General Manager Billy King has allowed Murphy to step away while the front office works to trade him:

King says he and Murphy had reached a mutual agreement to try to find the 30-year-old Jersey native a new home -- preferably with a playoff contender -- if the [Carmelo Anthony] deal fell through and Murphy’s $12 million expiring contract was not needed to clinch the Pistons’ participation in the trade.

The Nets had agreed to send Murphy to the Detroit Pistons as part of a three-team deal principally involving Anthony, Chauncey Billups, and Richard Hamilton. As that trade is no longer on the table, Murphy's in NBA limbo while the Nets work to find a taker for him. Good luck with that. Though productive over the course of his career, back problems and his infrequent appearances have tanked Murphy's trade value, and it's unlikely the Nets will get more than pennies on the dollar for the Notre Dame product, just one season removed from averaging 14.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.

Stein names the Magic among the teams who will attempt to sign Murphy if the Nets' attempts to trade him fall through, but provides no further details. My expectation is the Magic see him as a reliable, productive veteran who can back up Dwight Howard effectively at center. And Murphy's fantastic three-point shooting--his career mark is 39.1 percent--would give Orlando yet another lethal three-point threat. However, concerns about his all-around defense abound, to say nothing of his health: Murphy's shooting 34.2 percent this season, and 17.4 percent on three-pointers. Further, his per-minute rebounding, though not awful, is well below his career mark.

I brought up Murphy as a potential trade target for Orlando five weeks ago, just before the Magic unloaded Marcin Gortat, Howard's backup, in their major roster overhaul. Magic fans met that suggestion unenthusiastically, and I don't expect the reaction to be any different this time 'round. But if indeed the Nets buy Murphy out, he'll instantly become the best free-agent big man available, and could help the Magic give Howard much-needed relief in the playffs.