The Orlando Magic will face a difficult decision in July when starting power forward Ryan Anderson, the NBA's Most Improved Player, becomes a restricted free agent. Orlando will be able to match any offer sheet Anderson signs with another club, but the productive 24-year-old figures to earn a big payday, and Orlando may not have the financial flexibility to match.
"I love it here in Orlando," Anderson said Saturday, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. "This is a place where I've had an incredible opportunity [....] Obviously, I love it here. I think I've made it clear to everybody here that I'm very happy here. But I want to come into this with an open mind," he continued, referring to his upcoming free agency.
Anderson posted career-highs in scoring (16.1 points per game), rebounding (7.7 per game), minutes (32.2 per game), and field-goal shooting (43.9 percent) while matching his career-best in three-point shooting (39.3 percent). He led the NBA in total threes made and attempted en route to taking home the Most Improved Player award.
Orlando has previously matched offer sheets Marcin Gortat and J.J. Redick signed with the Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls, respectively, but Anderson figures to earn a much bigger payday than either of those two. Further, the team lacks long-term financial flexibility: as Robbins notes, Orlando signed Jason Richardson and Glen Davis to four-year contracts in December, while Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Duhon, and and Quentin Richardson each have two years remaining on their deals.
Mike Prada, the editor of Bullets Forever, SB Nation's Washington Wizards blog, foresees Anderson signing an offer sheet in the four-year, $52 million range.
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