NBA free agency is now underway, and we at Orlando Pinstriped Post have been exhaustive in our coverage of players whom the Orlando Magic ought to target. We haven't spent much time on the team's own free agents. Until now, anyway.
Here's a look at the Magic's incumbent free agents and their outlook.
Jennings arrived via the Detroit Pistons in the Tobias Harris trade and failed to impress in Orlando, shooting 36.6 percent from the floor and 34.6 percent on three-pointers. He remains a solid playmaker and surely has a role in the NBA going forward, but almost certainly not in Magic pinstripes. Orlando appears to be all-in on Elfrid Payton as its point guard of the future, and it still has C.J. Watson under contract for the 2016/17 season. While finding an upgrade over Watson is worth exploring, Jennings isn't it.
The Magic didn't extend Nicholson a qualifying offer, a fact which would have been unthinkable after his promising rookie campaign. Two disappointing seasons and one sneakily okay one--his most recent--later and it appears that Nicholson, the first Draft pick Rob Hennigan made after assuming control of the Magic franchise, will have to continue his career elsewhere.
It's tempting to regard Nicholson's game as a relic in today's smaller, faster NBA, but he's expanded his shooting range--triples accounted for 36.7 percent of his shot attempts in 2015/16, and he converted them at a 36 percent rate--while still remaining effective inside the arc. A smart team will make a low-risk bet on him as a third or fourth big. It just doesn't look like Orlando will be that team. The Magic appear to have seen enough.
Smith turned in a fine season with the Magic and now appears poised to cash in. At 30, he's reached his peak, and he's not the most mobile big man around, but he can still contribute as a jump-shooter--he connected on 57.4 percent of his shots from 10-to-16 feet a season ago--and smart defender.
It wouldn't surprise me if Orlando tried to retain Smith, given his performance, toughness, and veteran status, but it also wouldn't surprise me if it looked for a younger reserve big man. My guess is Smith will ply his trade elsewhere in the season ahead.
Dedmon, improbably the Magic's third-longest-tenured player, has shown some growth since joining the club on a ten-day deal two Februarys ago. His per-game averages of 4.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks won't turn any heads, but Dedmon is an athletic and engaged presence who can contribute on the glass and as a shot-blocker. His biggest bugaboo, even more than his limited offensive utility, is foul trouble: in the 2015/16 season, Dedmon committed a foul once every 6.5 minutes he was on the floor... and that figure represents a career-best rate.
Dedmon will surely get some reasonable offers, but barring a truly outrageous one, I expect Orlando to retain him.
Orlando's sending Victor Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the trade for Serge Ibaka signaled a vote of confidence, of sorts, in Fournier. The Magic could ill afford to part with a young wing of Oladipo's caliber if it didn't feel comfortable with the Fournier, and with the idea of matching whatever offer comes his way.
And believe me, Fournier will get offers. He doesn't have "star" written all over him, to be sure, but he's coming off an age-23 season wherein he scored nearly one point every two minutes, shot 50.2 percent on twos and 40 percent on more than five three-pointers per game, and showed confidence and tenacity in creating his own shot.
Never say never, of course, but it seems extremely likely that Fournier will remain in Orlando now and going forward, pairing with Payton as its backcourt of the future.