Monday marked one of the important in-season dates for the NBA, and no, I'm not talking about the trade that sent Dion Waiters to the Oklahoma City Thunder and J.R. Smith to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Instead, I'm talking about the ability for teams to sign players to 10-day contracts.
Most of the time, teams use 10-days as a way to fill a roster spot while someone else is hurt. However, there are times when teams, most notably rebuilding ones, use them as an asset, as a way to see what kind of players they might want to grab out of the NBA Developmental League, or free agency, and try to develop.
Especially in 2014/15, the Orlando Magic could be looking to take advantage of 10-day contracts as a high rate.
Last season, the Magic signed two players--Adonis Thomas and Dewayne Dedmon--to two 10-day contacts apiece, with Dedmon sticking around with the team for the remainder of the season, and he's lasted through 2014/15 as well. Prior to last season, the last time the Magic had used 10-days was during 2004/05, when they signed small forward Mark Jones and point guard Andre Barrett. Both players finished the season with the team.
With the Magic adding the Erie BayHawks as an NBA D-League affiliate this past offseason, and the team currently in a state of flux with their recent poor play, bringing someone up from the BayHawks could be something Orlando soon considers. However, for them to be able to do so, they'll have to make a move to open up a spot on the active roster. With 14 of their 15 players on guaranteed deals--the aforementioned Dedmon's deal becomes fully guaranteed for the remainder of the season on January 10th--the team is going to have to make a potentially tough decision on how they go about opening that roster spot.
Dedmon could be an option as someone they could waive, but, with his recent emergence into a force on the court, it would seem unlikely the team waives him, especially with their need for a third center in case of foul trouble or injury. Another option could be waiving veteran guard Willie Green, whom the team brought in this offseason to bring a veteran presence to an other wise very young roster. Green, who has struggled mightily whenever he's been on the court, would be best fit playing for a contender who has a chance to win a title, something Green has yet to achieve in his 12-year career. The team could also turn to a trade, which could involve the likes of Maurice Harkless or Andrew Nicholson, who have both been stuck at the end of coach Jacque Vaughn's bench for the majority of the season.
A source with knowledge of the situation said that the Magic had plans to call up at least one of their four main D-Leaguers--Peyton Siva, Seth Curry, Drew Crawford and Kadeem Batts--who were all with the team during their month long training camp, at some point this season. Given the state of Orlando's roster, Curry or Siva would make the most sense for the Magic to call up, due to their ability to play point guard.
As someone who hasn't gotten a chance to really sit down and watch the D-League, and more specifically the BayHawks, I went to someone who I knew had. Our friends at Ridiculous Upside do a fantastic job of covering the D-League, along with the NCAA, so, of course I went to one of their great writers. Chris Reichert, who's contributed at a handful of places including Ridiculous Upside and Crab Dribbles, was kind enough to answer some questions for me about Curry, Siva, Crawford and the team as a whole.
In his second season in the D-League, Curry has emerged as one of the young stars in the league, lighting it up on a nightly basis. Curry was always known as a sharpshooter, but this season he's taken that to the next level, putting up shooting splits of 51.9/52.7/92.9, while averaging over 26 points a night.
Reichert told me that the main improvement that he's seen from Curry this season is his ability to get shots inside the arc on his own. "You can tell that Seth is being much more aggressive in getting to the basket and maneuvering inside the arc," he said. "Last year it seemed like he was only a three-point shooter, while this season he’s getting to the line--4.9 attempts per game--more than ever and that has allowed him to sustain these ridiculous shooting numbers." Chris also talked about the second-year guard's ability to get his teammates more involved, even if it isn't resulting in higher assists numbers every night.
Even if the Magic don't call Curry up, Reichert believes that the he will end up on an NBA roster. "I definitely think we will see Seth in the NBA this season. He’s too talented offensively not to get a shot with someone," he told me, citing the New Orleans Pelicans as a team that Curry could potentially fit well with.
Outside of Curry, the player who would seem to have the best shot of getting a call up would be Siva, who, like Curry, would help the Magic's backup point guard issues. In comparison to Curry, Siva is much more of a pass-first point guard--he's averaging 7.9 assists per game--and, as Reichert says, has done a good job getting the ball to teammates Daniel Coursey and Crawford.
While Curry is someone who can come in and make a direct impact with his scoring, Siva's impact would be felt more as a floor general and distributor, which the Magic could use. "His scoring is down a tad, but that’s only because of his clear pass-first mentality this year... In my opinion Siva still has some work to do before being a legitimate point guard in the NBA. Right now he’s a third-string guy mainly because of his struggles with his outside shooting," said Reichert, saying that Siva is only shooting 42 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc. He also notes that Siva will have to tighten up his turnover issues if he wants to make the jump to the next level.
Along with his shooting and turnover issues, Siva's defense has also taken a hit this season. Siva's defensive rating has jumped nearly 14 points from 97.5 last season to 111.4 this season, and as Chris puts it, the former Louisville Cardinal seems more reserved on that end of the floor. If this is the case, it could be something that holds Siva back, at least for the short term.
Two other players the team could look to call up are Crawford and Coursey, who have quietly been putting together quality seasons. Crawford, who played four years at Northwestern, isn't known for his scoring, but has done a good job on that end, while keeping up his tenacity on the defensive end. There isn't a lot of growth left for Crawford, but he could give the team a defensive spark if he were given a chance.
Coursey is interesting, especially given the general struggles of Batts. As Reichert points out, Coursey might be a year away from getting serious consideration for an NBA role, but goes out every night and does things that only help his team. Unless the Magic are hit once again with the injury bug, it would seem it's unlikely that the big man would get a chance with the team this season.
At this point, there isn't anything clearly getting ready to happen on the Magic's front with the D-League and calling players up, but there could be action at some point over the next few months. With the team pretty crowded in the frontcourt, it would seem that they're most likely to be looking at someone to help solidify the backcourt more, and both Curry and Siva would do that, while also giving the front office a better look at what they really have.