With July preparing to come to a close, free agency is pretty much done. The Magic have a full roster of 15 players at the moment and so their offseason is done (and continuing to confuse everybody).
Orlando did its work to hand over the reigns of the team to its young players, filling the roster in with relatively low usage veterans like Channing Frye, Willie Green, Ben Gordon and Luke Ridnour. The Magic have a ton of cap room and could have gone after a low-level star, likely overpaying him, but elected not to.
The going thought (at least for me) is the Magic wanted one more year for the young players to germinate and grow before beginning to put serious pieces around them to propel the organization forward. They struck out a bit in the Draft Lottery this year and so are probably not as complete as they would like heading into this season and 2015 free agency.
Next summer could be the first time we really start to see Rob Hennigan throw some money around and get aggressive in the chase for a championship or Playoff positioning.
So who is out there?
First things first is the Magic’s own free agents. Nikola Vucevic is eligible for an extension along with Tobias Harris. They have until the start of the season to sign extensions or else they will enter restricted free agency next summer. Certainly the first priorities for the Magic will be figuring out what to do with them and their futures.
Really the first major challenge of Rob Hennigan’s tenure as general manager is evaluating the worth of these two players. A bad contract for either would cripple the organization and send them toward mediocrity or worse. That takes a careful analysis of their talent and projected ability along with what the market can bear.
Harris’ value seems a complete mystery at this point, but many expect Vucevic to get a contract similar to Larry Sanders (a four-year, $44 million extension set to kick in this season). Orlando was careful with their money this year without making a big splash to accommodate a similar contract, it would appear.
The Vucevic question could not have come at a stranger time though. As Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider notes, next year’s free agent batch is full of bigs and light on wings:
2. 2015 is a great year to shop for big men …
Of the 22 potential free agents projected to produce at least 11 WARP over 2015-16 and 2016-17, an incredible 13 are big men. Depending upon how you categorize Tim Duncan, nearly a quarter of the league’s starting centers could be on the market next summer, along with All-Star power forwards Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Millsap.
3. … but not wing players
One reason both Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons got max-type offers as restricted free agents this summer might be the lack of options on the market next offseason. Just five of the top 22 potential free agents are wing players, and three of them (Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson) are eligible for rookie extensions this fall that could keep them from ever seeing free agency.
The best attainable max-level free agents might very well be LaMarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol. Goran Dragic will also be a free agent next summer. It seems very unlikely any of those three will leave their respective teams. That could very well mean the Magic have another modest summer next year (barring crazy trades, which can always happen).
That is, unless the Magic have some crazed interest for Monta Ellis or Rudy Gay. Somehow I doubt that at this point with the talk of process and establishing a program and identity. Those two players would not seem to fit.
Players like David West, Roy Hibbert, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap also become available. Again, it is hard to tell what kind of interest the Magic would have in them or where they would fit into the Magic’s plans. You would have to spend a healthy among of whatever cap room you have to acquire any of those players.
That could seriously hamper you in 2016.
Orlando is playing a patient approach — perhaps a bit too patient for some. But they are also playing the hand they are dealt. If Vucevic gets priced out, the Magic certainly could be in for making a splash. They could still make a splash if the right player they want becomes available.
For now, Orlando seems content to review what they have on their roster and begin making decisions for a little further down the road.