The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and the Magic … well, they did some things. Orlando didn’t quite trade for an impact veteran to aid a playoff push, and, while they didn’t stand pat, the moves signal the Magic front office is looking beyond this season.
By getting rid of Channing Frye’s contract, and taking on expiring salaries in the form of Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings, Orlando has set itself up to have plenty of cap room this summer; about $45 million, actually.
Orlando could be positioning itself up for a big play in free agency this summer, but who is on realistically on the table? Let’s take a look at who the Magic might be able to land.
OK, not a surprising or sexy name (particularly when put into a search engine) to start the list, but at least some of that huge cap figure is likely going toward retaining Fournier. It’s easy to imagine both sides sticking with one another. Orlando knows what Fournier can do, and gave him the opportunity shine this year.
Fournier reportedly turned down a four-year, $32 million offer from the Magic before the season started, and has had his share of ups and downs since, but you’d imagine he’d get something in that neighborhood this summer. The Magic have relied on Fournier to get points, and for the most part he’s been a consistent contributor. With the salary cap ballooning over the next two seasons, he’s probably worth re-signing, even if it’s for more than that reported extension offer.
Ryan Anderson or Mirza Teletovic
By trading away Frye, the Magic lost some much-needed shooting to space the floor. Surely, addressing that issue, which has nagged at Orlando for most of the season, will be a priority this summer. Anderson, who was being dangled by New Orleans leading up to the deadline, would have been an interesting trade target, but he ended up staying put. He’ll demand a sizeable deal this offseason, but could fit well in Orlando. He’s basically a better version of Frye.
Teletovic may not be that, but if Anderson is off the table and you can get Teletovic for less than what you were going to pay Frye (about $15 million over the next two seasons), then it may be worth exploring. Teletovic is shooting better than 40 percent from three this year, on five attempts a game.
The Magic traded Smith not too long ago, and they got Tobias Harris out of it. He’s gone now, but the Magic could still use another ball handler who can create. Maybe Jennings proves himself to be that guy in the final stretch of this season, and the Magic bring him back next year. If not, though, they’ll have to look elsewhere.
Smith, an unrestricted free agent this summer, is putting up big numbers on a bad team, but considering what he has to work with, it’s impressive he’s getting eight assists each night. His biggest problem, though – and this may be why it wouldn’t work in Orlando – is he can’t shoot. He’s shooting less than 39 percent from the field and less than 26 percent from three.
I know that’s kind of going against what the Magic are looking for, but they need more people who can create shots for others. Smith can do that. And he may be the fastest player in the NBA. It’d be a lot of fun to see him flying down the court on a fastbreak flanked by Aaron Gordon and Victor Oladipo.
That’s it for the less attractive, but very feasible options. As I said before, Orlando’s going to have a lot of cap room, and it’s not going to want to settle for the likes of Mirza Teletovic. It looks like the Magic front office is priming itself for a big move or two this summer, in hopes of landing some veteran pieces to compliment the Magic’s young core.
Here are some guys that the rest of the league, also looking to take advantage of an inflated salary cap, is going to be looking at, and who the Magic would be thrilled to land.
Barnes is a restricted free agent, meaning the Golden State Warriors can match whichever offer sheet he signs this summer, but things are getting pricey in Oakland. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are already on near-max contracts for the next several years, and in the summer of 2018, Steph Curry is going to cash in big time. Right now, the Warriors have him at a steal of a contract ($12 million a year). The cap will be much larger by then, but how many big salaries can they afford?
Some team will be willing to give Barnes a deal like Thompson’s and Green’s. Will Golden State match? The Magic should be the one to find out. Barnes is a good defender, who can guard multiple positions, and, unlike other tweeners Orlando has rolled out this season, he can hit the three. He’s an impact player that could catapult the Magic to the next level in the East. Oh, and he’s only 23-years-old, so he’d fit in perfectly with Orlando’s core.
Horford is an unrestricted free agent, and a guy any playoff contender would love to have. Orlando’s in need of a low-post defender. Unlike other free agent centers on the market, Horford can guard two positions, which would make things less complicated alongside Nikola Vucevic. Beyond that he can do pretty much anything. He’s a good passer, particularly for his position, he shoots well inside of the arc, and he rebounds.
The X’s and O’s check out, plus Horford would bring some leadership to Orlando’s young locker room.
Conley’s allure is similar to Horford’s; he’s good at everything. He’s one of the most overlooked players in the league. Conley, 28, is a superb defender, and can score in a variety of ways. He has one of, if not, the nicest runners in the league, and can knock down jumpers at a respectable rate.
It’s going to take a good offer to pry Conley away from Memphis, where he’s played his entire career, but he could really grease the wheels of an Orlando offense that’s stalled plenty of times this season.
Who do you think the Magic might be able to land with the newfound cap space this summer?