Magic to deal Anderson for Ayon

AP Photo/DayLifeAdrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports the Magic have agreed to a sign-and-trade deal with the Hornets that will send restricted free agent Ryan Anderson to the Crescent City for center Gustavo Ayon.

Anderson reportedly agreed to a four-year, $36 million deal with the Hornets. The Magic did not appear willing to match it and so Rob Hennigan did what he had to — get something for the Magic’s second-leading scorer from 2012.

This was not a case of the Magic “giving” Anderson away. This was a case of Anderson garnering a contract that was more than the Magic wanted to pay. Remember, Hennigan talked about a process in analyzing the worth of players and how they fit. Deciding to let Anderson walk was a part of that process. A decision that Hennigan came to in evaluating his roster.

It pains a lot of Magic fans that Anderson, a player that the Magic really developed into a solid player that was more than “just a shooter.” When Anderson came to Orlando in the Vince Carter deal, he was somewhat seen as a throw in to the deal. He proved to be the steal. Anderson averaged 16.1 points per game last season and shot 39.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Anderson was efficient and the Magic’s secondary weapon offensively. He was better on the glass than a lot of people give him credit for, posting 7.7 rebounds per game last year. Anderson did two things — shoot 3-pointers and get offensive rebounds and put backs. Offensively you could not ask for anything more.

If you want to be serious, Anderson made Rashard Lewis — a max-contract player (deservedly or not, that is what he was) — expendable and allowed the Magic to make a trade involving Lewis (albeit an awful one). Anderson did everything that was asked of him on the court and, as is being evidence by how every fan is talking about him in the wake of the trade, was one of the great guys this team has seen in a long time. Everybody loved Ryan Anderson. And nobody wishes Anderson any ill will.

A trade had to happen though if the Magic were unwilling to match that $36 million deal.

Orlando had to ask itself whether Anderson was worth $9 million per year. The last year of his rookie contract earned him $2.2 million. Anderson will make, on average, 309% more than he did last year. Anderson was good, but that much of a raise good? Perhaps. There are plenty that will argue he was.

Anderson was a superb shooter, but did not have a lot of other skills that are above average. Even while Anderson was going on to win the Most Improved Player Award, Stan Van Gundy continually mentioned how Anderson needs to improve his defense and his rebounding to become the best player he could be. There is still no doubt Anderson can improve on that end of the floor.

We do not know exactly how Hennigan evaluated Anderson and came to a monetary valuation for Anderson. It clearly was not $9 million per year.

So Hennigan did what he had to. Got Anderson to the team he wanted and got something for him.

That something was Gustavo Ayon, a 6-foot-10 center originally from Mexico. Ayon averaged 5.9 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game in 20.1 minutes per game in 54 games as a 26-year-old rookie. Per 36 minutes, Ayon posted 10.6 points per 36 minutes and 8.8 rebounds per 36 minutes. Ayon is a player who can contribute as a spot starter at center or as a backup.

Ayon is not a 3-point shooter — he took just one last year — but he has more range than you think. He hit 11 of his 33 shots from 16-23 feet last season, according to HoopData, and 16 for 41 from 3-9 feet. Obviously most of his work comes around the rim.

More importantly, the Magic got something for Anderson. They did not just let him walk.

Ayon is owed only $1.5 million next season according to ShamSports and Orlando holds a team option for him for the 2014 season (he has a player option for 2015 worth $1.9 million). Ayon, as you can see, is on a very reasonable contract. It is one the Magic can get out of pretty easily.

So not only did the Magic get something for a player they were not going to retain, they maintained some flexibility.

The Magic are changing. The team’s makeover is not done yet — not by a long shot. It sucks to see Ryan Anderson not apart of that future. But this was a business deal and could end up being a good one for the Magic.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily