The Orlando Magic got much of their offseason personnel work done Thursday, the first day the NBA moratorium on player movement lifted, when they officially signed the free agents D.J. Augustin, Bismack Biyombo, and Jeff Green; re-signed Evan Fournier, a free agent of their own; and signed Stephen Zimmerman, their second-round selection in the 2016 NBA Draft. It's still possible they could do some smaller roster work down the line, but at the moment it seems likely the players presently under Magic control will remain with the team through training camp.
But Friday, July 15th, is a date to keep an eye on. That's when, according to Basketball Insiders, the contract of Devyn Marble will become fully guaranteed for the 2016/17 season. If Orlando doesn't waive him before that date, it will owe the Iowa product about $980,000 for the season ahead.
The choice may not be simple. In 44 games at the NBA level, Marble has shot just 30.4 percent from the floor and averaged 2.2 points in 10.4 minutes. He hasn't fared much better in the NBA D-League, shooting 38.1 percent for 14.3 points in 30.9 minutes. And with minimal rebounding, assist, and defensive numbers, Marble has yet to distinguish himself as having a single NBA-ready skill. Even in the Orlando Pro Summer League, Marble hasn't cracked the 40-percent shooting mark. Through Thursday's games, he's at 39.5 percent.
The Magic must decide whether they want to continue investing in Marble at a bargain-basement price or if they'd rather fill out the margins of their roster with another prospect. And while whomever fills Orlando's 13th-man role may not seem important in the abstract, it could have some bearing on whether the team succeeds, especially in light of its poor wing depth.
An injury to Fournier could cost the Magic a spot in the NBA postseason. The only The other wings Orlando has under contract are Mario Hezonja, a second-year player who doesn't quite appear to be ready to play a major role for a team aspiring to make the playoffs; and Jodie Meeks, a three-point specialist who appeared in only three games a season ago as he recovered from a broken foot. New coach Frank Vogel could, in a pinch, play either Augustin or C.J. Watson off the ball with Elfrid Payton at point guard, but that alignment would give up so much height and strength defensively that it'd only be viable in small doses.
In trading Victor Oladipo for Serge Ibaka, the Magic added a veteran interior presence who can contribute at both ends of the floor. But they also lost their only other NBA-ready wing, and the addition of Biyombo--a doubling-down of paint protection which signals the degree to which Vogel will emphasize interior defense--only makes the decision look more risky. Meeks is a veteran who can spread the floor, at least in theory, but whether he's ready to contribute in a meaningful way after an essentially lost season remains an open question.
In short, if Fournier gets hurt or Meeks struggles to find the range, Orlando will need someone on the wing who can pick up the slack. Marble's track record suggests he's not likely up to the task. The decision the Magic make regarding his contract will indicate their level of confidence in the former second-round Draft choice.