Under previous general manager Otis Smith, the Orlando Magic routinely carried fewer players than the NBA maximum of 15, a cost-saving measure which had the ancillary benefit of keeping Orlando flexible should it decide to make an unbalanced trade.
But Smith isn't in charge anymore, and Rob Hennigan, his replacement, has indicated he will keep 15 players on the roster when the regular season begins, reports John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com, owing to multiple injuries and to the sheer number of young players he has.
According to Denton, 14 of the 20 players in Orlando training camp are assured of a roster spot: point guards Jameer Nelson, E`Twaun Moore, and Ish Smith; wings Arron Afflalo, J.J. Redick, Hedo Türkoğlu, Quentin Richardson, and Maurice Harkless; and bigs Glen Davis, Al Harrington, Andrew Nicholson, Nikola Vučević, Gustavo Ayón, and Kyle O'Quinn. Each of those players has a guaranteed contract.
Three other Magic players--that'd be swingman Christian Eyenga and forwards Justin Harper and Josh McRoberts--have guaranteed deals, but it's possible none of them will make the team. Orlando also has point guard Armon Johnson and swingmen Chris Johnson and DeQuan Jones on non-guaranteed contracts for training camp.
Add it up and Eyenga, Harper, the Johnsons, Jones, and McRoberts are six players fighting for one roster spot. Denton believes the job is McRoberts' to lose, though Jones has indeed impressed Orlando's coaches with his energy and hustle.
The Magic netted Eyenga and McRoberts from the Los Angeles Lakers in the trade which sent Dwight Howard to tinseltown. The high-flying Eyenga has carved out a reputation as an excellent dunker and solid rebounder for his position, but hasn't impressed in the NBA or in the NBA D-League. McRoberts, a five-year veteran, had a disappointing season in Los Angeles under coach Mike Brown, who kept the athletic lefty on a leash offensively: the Duke product averaged just 6.9 points per 36 minutes and had the second-lowest usage rate on the team.
Orlando traded two future second-round picks to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Harper's draft rights, but the Richmond product had an unimpressive rookie season. Ostensibly a floor-spacing power forward, Harper shot 9-of-31 on the season and just 2-of-13 from deep. In the Orlando Pro Summer League and throughout training camp, the Magic have tried playing him at small forward, with middling results.
At 6-foot-4, Armon Johnson has good size for a point guard, but he hasn't stood out during preseason action and doesn't appear to have much chance of making Orlando's opening-day roster, given that the team already has three point guards. The Magic signed Chris Johnson for wing depth owing to the preseason injuries to Afflalo, Eyenga, and Harkless. Despite his solid three-point shooting and rebounding numbers at Dayton, he's more of a training-camp body than a viable NBA player.
Jones might be the most intriguing player of the bunch, and just might beat out the other five players for that final spot. Though unspectacular in college--apart from his monstrous dunks, anyway--Jones is your prototypical energy wing: he plays hard and quickly, and his 6-foot-8 frame helps him rebound well for his position.
Which player do you foresee Hennigan keeping for the regular season? Which player would you prefer he keep? Please vote in the poll attached to this post.