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Orlando Magic Free Agency Roundtable

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With the free agency period set to “officially” begin, the OPP crew shares their opinions and predictions

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Happy free agency day!

Not that it means a whole lot anymore since many verbal aggreements have already been made and the league apparently no longer cares about tampering. For the Magic, though, it remains an important day.

We’ve already learned that Nikola Vucevic is expected to sign a four-year, $100 million deal to remain in Orlando. Perhaps we will get the breakdown of that contract in the coming hours or days. We will soon learn the fate of Terrence Ross, and whether he gets that lifetime contract many Magic fans would like to offer him.

The OPP crew got together to discuss ideal contracts for Vucevic and Ross, back-up plans for each, under-the-radar free agent options for the Magic, and other free agency predictions....


Fill in the blank and explain your reasoning: I would have offered Nikola Vucevic a ____ year deal for $________.

NBA: Playoffs-Toronto Raptors at Orlando Magic Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Oliver: I would have offered Nikola Vucevic a three-year deal for $75 million. I think that’s pretty fair value for Vucevic coming off his best season as a professional, and it wouldn’t muck up the Magic too much moving forward. They aren’t going to be making a big, splashy free agency signing anytime soon, and that deal will be movable because Vucevic has the kind of game that will age well. He’s extremely important to the Magic’s success right now, and it would guarantee them enough time for Mo Bamba to be ready to play starters minutes at the NBA level.

Aaron Goldstone: I would have offered Nikola Vucevic a two-year deal for $55 million. I realize that two years is pretty unlikely (he’s probably seeking four years), but that’s what I would offer. The money doesn’t concern me whatsoever, but the years do.

Garrett Townsend: Oh boy, a tough one to kick things off. It’s easy to look at last season, note Orlando’s return to the playoffs, note Vucevic’s emergence as an All-Star, and determine that the best thing to do is to move heaven and earth to bring him back. But in this instance does correlation imply causation? I’m not so sure. Vooch has seemingly improved as a defender, but how much of that is a result of the length and agility he shares the frontcourt with? The Montenegrin big man thrived as the fulcrum of the offense last season, but does his slower and more deliberate pace stymie the athleticism found elsewhere on the roster? His absolute best ball of the campaign happened early, so what should we make of the fact that the team was 11 games below .500 in late-January, and that it was improved play elsewhere that aided the late season surge that secured a playoff spot? I guess what I’m asking is this: are we sure Vucevic is a winner worth investing heavily in? I’m skeptical. The whispers of 4 years and $100 million that Shams Charania reported aren’t exactly music to my ears, but that increasingly seems like the ballpark where things will land. If it were up to me, though, I’d be tossing out something more along the lines of 3 years and $60 million, or even 2 years and $50 million. The money across the first couple of seasons doesn’t concern me too much, but anything with a term longer than that does. Vucevic might be the Magic’s present, but he’s not their future; a big deal in the days to come could eventually sink the side down the line.

Mike Cali: I would have offered Nikola Vucevic a three-year deal for $80 million. I really want to say two-years for $60 million to get the deal off the books for the summer of 2021, but an offer as such would likely mean Vooch in a Mavericks or Kings jersey. We all are aware of Vucevic’s flaws, and even with him playing at an All-Star level the Magic just barely made the playoffs, but All-Star centers aren’t easy to come by.


Fill in the blank: I would offer Terrence Ross a ____ year deal for $________.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Oliver: I would offer Terrence Ross a two-year deal for $30 million. Gauging Ross’ value is a little harder than Vucevic’s. It’s easier to find wing players who can shoot and produce off the bench than it is to find a big man who can control the offense. I think Ross will get a lot of offers across the league as well. Multiple league source suggested the San Antonio Spurs could be a dark horse team to secure Ross’ services this summer, and he’s expected to get looks from a lot of contending teams as well. Also lining Ross up with the conclusion of Evan Fournier’s contract would help give the Magic some flexibility in two summers to go out and possibly improve their wing situation as well.

Aaron Goldstone: I would offer Terrence Ross a two-year deal for $36 million. I think Ross will be hard-pressed to find another organization in the NBA that will give him the money, role, and shot attempts that Orlando can offer him.

Garrett Townsend: Compared to the Vucevic question, this one seems a little simpler: get it done. Ross turned in a season that made him an instant fan favorite in Central Florida, and the skills that he brings to the table are indispensable for a Magic side starved of dependable scoring options. As I outlined in yesterday’s column, the sixth man specialist will be expecting a bump in terms of the per-year figure, so something in the range of three-years and $40 million feels right. A final-year option in his favor might be the type of sweetener that gets his signature on the dotted line soon after free agency opens. It’s time to keep the Human Torch ignited and in Orlando.

Mike Cali: I would offer Terrence Ross a three-year deal for $42 million. As Aaron said, I think the Magic are the best fit in the league for Ross in terms of finances and shot volume. But with such a league-wide premium on perimeter shooting, I think Ross will have three-year deals on the table from other teams, so the Magic will have to match that, or at least com close, in order to retain him.


If Vucevic did sign elsewhere, how crippling would it have been for the Magic and who would the Magic have targeted in free agency?

NBA: Orlando Magic at New York Knicks Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Oliver: I think it would have been extremely crippling for the Magic if Vucevic were to sign elsewhere. He’s the focal point of their offense, and all the guys feed off of him perfectly. He creates space for guys to be able to get their own and find cutting lanes, and his ability to initiate the offense is key to their success on that end of the floor. He’s makes everyone around him better, plain and simple, and losing that would be crippling to a Magic offense that goes through lulls at times right now.

Aaron Goldstone: Failing to re-sign Vucevic would have been very crippling to Orlando (particularly their offense). I know there are a lot of people out there (namely on Twitter) convinced that the team could have moved on from their All-Star center rather easily, but I’m not as convinced. I know his showing in the playoffs against Toronto left a sour taste in the mouth’s of many that support the team, but the Magic need their big man back. He’s arguably the team’s best passer/play-maker, and I think it’s critical for the continued development of Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac to have Vucevic on the floor alongside of them. I also think the team would plummet towards the bottom of the league in rebounding without Vucevic on the roster. He’s not a perfect player: defensive lapses (although those have been mitigated lately), a lack of free throw attempts, inefficiency in the post. And there’s the whole Mohamed Bamba thing as well, I get it. But I still preferred that he re-signed with the Magic (although selfishly, I would rather the deal be shorter than its expected to be). If Vucevic were to sign elsewhere, I think the obvious answer to the question of “who to target to replace him” would be an in-house option. Orlando offered Khem Birch a qualifying offer earlier this week, making him a restricted free agent. I believe this was a procedural move made to protect the team in the event that Vucevic did go elsewhere. If not Birch, then I would be fine with either Willie Cauley-Stein or Dewayne Dedmon on short deals (preferably one or two-year deals) until Bamba is ready to take over. My sneaky favorite free agent “big” is Thomas Bryant. He’s a restricted free agent, and he will probably demand a larger deal than Orlando would have been interested in offering him, but I like his upside (a lot).

Garrett Townsend: I don’t mean to keep piling on the guy, but how does an answer of ‘maybe actually not that crippling’ sound? If Vucevic were to find his time in pinstripes at an end then Orlando would undoubtedly be a very different looking team next season, but I’m not so certain that they would be a significantly worse side. I’m fully aware that this might be me drinking a little too much of the Canadian Kool Aid (maple syrup?), but I kind of want to see what the Magic would look like with Khem Birch playing a larger chunk of minutes. He’s stepped up before when the opportunity has presented itself, so maybe it’s time to let the big guy cook and smash things.

Mike Cali: Imagining this Magic team as currently constructed with a 21-year-old Mo Bamba as its starting center is pretty frightening. Those who are concerned about how Vucevic remaining in Orlando will impede the development of Bamba and other core pieces must not be concerned with the short-term success of the Magic. Losing Vucevic, with his ability to stretch the floor, would give players like Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac much less room to operate. And for two key players still trying to find their consistency, that’s about the last thing the Magic need right now. There is no replacement center out there this summer within the Magic’s reach who will provide the same spacing and offensive production that Vooch will. If Vooch did leave, they probably would have stuck with the Khem Birch/Mo Bamba tandem at center (maybe with a Marcin Gortat return for his farewell tour as third string) and spent the money on other needs.


If Ross signs elsewhere, how crippling would it be for the Magic and who would you target in free agency?

NBA: Orlando Magic at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Oliver: I don’t think it would be as crippling if the Magic were to lose Ross. It’s easier to replace a bench shooter and scorer than it is to replace the player who’s the focal point of your offense. There’s enough guys out there that the Magic could look into that could help replace Ross’ production. It would also open them up to being able to split some of that money and getting better depth as well.

Aaron Goldstone: I think the Magic will have to overpay a bit for Ross because there really aren’t any other players on the market (that are attainable) with his particular skill-set. The shooting, spacing, and instant offense he provided the Magic with last season is hard to replicate. Orlando relied so heavily on his scoring off the bench, and the organization would almost assuredly be taking a step backwards if he was not retained. Jeremy Lamb is probably the closest thing out there to a Ross replacement, but I’m not a fan. He (Lamb) does have familiarity with Steve Clifford, but I’m not going out of my way to bring him in if I’m Orlando. Instead, I would target restricted free agent Tomas Satoransky (if Ross were to walk and sign elsewhere). I’ve always admired Satoransky’s game from afar; he can shoot the basketball, handle the basketball, and has the play-making ability to make life easier for others. He wouldn’t necessarily replace Ross, but he could provide the team with a lot of (other) positive things coming off the bench - size, positional versatility, and basketball IQ/awareness.

Garrett Townsend: Again, the thought of Ross leaving compared to Vucevic is a little less peachy. He might not have received the accolades of his higher-profile teammate, but the contributions he made to the success of the side were no less meaningful. T-Flight was a source of instant offense off the bench, with his flamethrower deep ball providing points for a reserve squad largely bereft of scoring. If Ross were to leave it’s unlikely that any player added in his place could provide the same level of bang for buck; Malcolm Brogdon might top $20 million per, while Jeremy Lamb is probably near the top of the list of ‘players about to be paid a surprising amount’. Bohan Bogdanovic is another who can expect a sizeable pay day. DeMarre Carroll? Wes Matthews? Identifying a like-for-like replacement is tough; let’s get that lifetime contract drawn up and happening instead.

Mike Cali: Ross, in the Magic’s short-term future, is nearly as indispensable as Vucevic. I’m not sure if the NBA tracks the average of how quickly a player scores after checking in, but I’d love to see what Ross’ time is. The value of that instant offense off the bench for such an inconsistent offensive team like the Magic can’t be underestimated. Again, just about every realistically attainable player on the market would be a downgrade in terms of production for the Magic. But if Ross does leave, I’m targeting Seth Curry, Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Bullock and Tomas Satoransky.


If Ross and Vucevic both stay, which under-the-radar free agents should the Magic target?

NBA: Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Oliver: I think there’s a few guys the Magic could look at as “under-the-radar” signings. Someone like Reggie Bullock, who the Los Angeles Lakers will likely push hard to keep, would fit in perfectly off the bench for the Magic. Also someone like a Seth Curry would make a lot of sense for the Magic as well. He’s a guy who can play both guard positions and give them some offense and insurance off the bench. A third guy would be Tomas Satoransky, whom the Magic could reportedly have interest in. He’d give them good point guard depth, and he has the length that we know Jeff Weltman and John Hammond love.

Aaron Goldstone: If Ross and Vucevic both re-sign with the Magic, which is what I think will end up happening, then Orlando will have little to no cap flexibility whatsoever. They won’t be a tax team, but they will likely be well over the cap (and right up against the cap ceiling). In this instance, the team will still have the non-taxpayer mid-level exception (roughly $9.2 million) to use on a lower-tiered free agent. Because of the uncertainty surrounding Markelle Fultz’s health, I would use the MLE to try and secure additional point guard depth. Cory Joseph and Jeremy Lin are veteran lead guards that could provide stability (and make some sense) in Orlando. Or the organization could try and target a younger/less-established guard and try to convince them that the possibility of earning a larger role in Orlando would be possible. Names like Delon Wright, Tyus Jones, and Quinn Cook come to mind, although they’re all restricted free agents (not sure Orlando would be interested in getting into bidding wars over any of those three with so many other free agents available on the market).

Garrett Townsend: If Vooch and Ross both stick around it would seem that the team’s most pressing need is then in the backcourt, where point guard remains a position of relative weakness and wing depth is almost non-existent. I like Seth Curry and what he brings to the table as both a shooter and pick-and-roll ball handler. Tomas Satoransky is a sneaky name that potentially could be pried from the toxic quagmire that is the Washington Wizards. Garrett Temple has a decent three-point stroke and a great first name. Alex Caruso could probably be convinced to shave that moustache and goatee combo. None of these are players that would catapult the Magic into contention, but they’d all go some way towards shoring up the rotation.

Mike Cali: I think we are all in agreement on Tomas Satoransky. With D.J. Augustin another year older and Markelle Fultz remaining a mystery, and with the Magic in need of a playmaker and perimeter threat, Satoransky can effectively play both backcourt positions, helping the Magic address two needs at once. A low volume shooter, he is the pass-first point guard the Magic’s young core will benefit from and, as having shot 40 percent from three in his career (albeit on just 1.4 attempts per) he provides needed spacing.


Prediction time: Where do you see each of the following free agents going?

Nikola Vucevic, Terrence Ross, Jerian Grant, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, D’Angelo Russell, Elfrid Payton, Isaiah Thomas

NBA: Orlando Magic at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Oliver....

Nikola Vucevic: Orlando Magic

Terrence Ross: Philadelphia 76ers

Jerian Grant: Overseas

Kevin Durant: Golden State Warriors

Kawhi Leonard: Toronto Raptors

Kyrie Irving: Brooklyn Nets

Kemba Walker: Boston Celtics

Jimmy Butler: Houston Rockets

Tobias Harris: Philadelphia 76ers

D’Angelo Russell: Minnesota Timberwolves

Elfrid Payton: New Orleans Pelicans

Isaiah Thomas: Charlotte Hornets

Aaron Goldstone...

Nikola Vucevic: Orlando Magic

Terrence Ross: Orlando Magic

Jerian Grant: Oklahoma City Thunder

Kevin Durant: Brooklyn Nets

Kawhi Leonard: Toronto Raptors

Kyrie Irving: Brooklyn Nets

Kemba Walker: Boston Celtics

Jimmy Butler: Philadelphia 76ers

Tobias Harris: New York Knicks

D’Angelo Russell: Los Angeles Lakers

Al Horford: Dallas Mavericks

Elfrid Payton: New Orleans Pelicans

Isaiah Thomas: Boston Celtics

Garrett Townsend....

Nikola Vucevic: Orlando Magic

Terrence Ross: Orlando Magic

Jerian Grant: Brisbane Bullets

Kevin Durant: Brooklyn Nets

Kawhi Leonard: LA Clippers

Kyrie Irving: Brooklyn Nets

Kemba Walker: Boston Celtics

Jimmy Butler: Houston Rockets

Tobias Harris: Philadelphia 76ers

D’Angelo Russell: LA Lakers

Elfrid Payton: NO Pelicans

Isaiah Thomas: somewhere without a Brink’s truck

Mike Cali...

Nikola Vucevic: Orlando Magic

Terrence Ross: Orlando Magic

Jerian Grant: Living with Uncle Horace

Kevin Durant: New York Knicks

Kawhi Leonard: Los Angeles Clippers

Kyrie Irving: Brooklyn Nets

Kemba Walker: Boston Celtics

Jimmy Butler: Miami Heat

Tobias Harris: Philadelphia 76ers

D’Angelo Russell: Los Angeles Lakers

Elfrid Payton: New Orleans Pelicans

Isaiah Thomas: Not Orlando. Remember last summer?