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Orlando Magic Daily Twitter Mailbag: It’s pronounced Gor-don

Thursday was my birthday! As my gift to you, my loyal readers, I decided to open things up for a Twitter mailbag! I will hopefully be doing this quasi-regularly since I get a lot of questions on Twitter. So drop me a line. Twitter not your thing? E-mail me at omagicdaily@gmail.com. Now let’s dive into some questions!

I am now 26 years old. I was planning to celebrate at Public House Underground with the Ruckus for the Orlando City game, but the game was canceled because of the hurricane. So I went to my aunt’s house for a small family get together. Got to charge that battery for Summer League next week!

As for the starting lineup for next year, I think we will see a lot of different lineups as the season goes on. This is a young team and guys are going to get better and worse as things progress. Jacque Vaughn is going to have to pull some strings and keep a careful eye on team chemistry to get it right.

Opening night, I think the lineup will be Elfrid Payton at point guard (only because the team does not have a veteran backup yet to prove me otherwise), Victor Oladipo at shooting guard, Maurice Harkless at small forward, Kyle O’Quinn at power forward and Nikola Vucevic at center. Obviously, I think we will see changes with Harkless and O’Quinn as the season progresses. Aaron Gordon will break through at some point and Tobias Harris will be in and out of the lineup. I think Vaughn goes with what he knows though at the beginning of the year, helping ease Gordon into things (and, again, Payton starts by necessity, maybe Willie Green gets the nod next to Oladipo at guard).

This is Aaron Gordon obviously, because I do not quite have an answer for the other Gordon.

It is pretty clear the Magic had Aaron Gordon as their No. 4 guy on their board (or three, I do not know where they had Joel Embiid). The position the Magic were in at the No. 4 pick, they had their pick of the “second tier” of prospects.

It should have been pretty clear by the what the Magic gave up to get Payton at 10 how much teams were valuing Draft picks. There probably was not a deal to move down for Gordon and there probably was too much of a risk that Boston or Sacramento would take him if the team did.

Orlando took the best player available on its board. That is all you can ask.

I have never seen Westbrook and Orton in the same room before . . .

Were Russell Westbrook and Daniel Orton actually separated at birth?

I think I got to go with Russell being a mini-Daniel. Orton’s face is properly proportioned, Westbrook’s is a bit weird looking. Then again, Orton’s head always seemed too small for his body.

Here is hoping Daniel has a good showing with the Wizards in Las Vegas.

I do not think the Magic will be strategically losing like they did last year. But looking at this roster, the Playoffs feel like a long shot. Aaron Gordon is going to take some time to develop. I just do not see him coming in and averaging 20 a night. It is going to take something like that or a big step forward from a player to get in the Playoff race.

But do not expect to see odd lineups late in games or suspicious activity. I think the team is past playing the Lottery and are turning the keys over to the young players to see what they have as they start becoming more aggressive to move forward.

It is hard to predict lineups, but it is definitely foreseeable to see both Gordons on the floor at the same time. As things stand, Ben Gordon — and his 27.6 percent 3-point field goal percentage in 19 games last year — might be the team’s best shooter. That is not a great position to be in obviously. There are no pure 3-point shooters on this roster. Gordon is the closest approximation at the moment.

I think Vaughn’s lineups will remain fluid, particularly early in the season as he figures out how to mix and match this roster. The young guys will get plenty of time together. We will have to see what kind of shape Gordon is in.

The Magic love versatility. Everyone on this roster, it seems, can play multiple positions. So even though Victor Oladipo might be starting at shooting guard, that is just a name. Even with Payton on the floor, we will see Oladipo bring the ball up and initiate the offense. Ben Gordon can do the same as can Willie Green.

This does open the opportunity for lineups that feature Payton-Oladipo-Fournier or some combination of the guards the Magic have. We will see Vaughn mix and match lineups with Oladipo at the one, Fournier at the two and Harkless at the three. Or Oladipo and Gordon in the backcourt. We might even see some Payton and Gordon backcourts.

I finished off my Diet Ginger Ales in my fridge. I have a 12-pack of Yoo-Hoos and some spare cupcakes from the office birthday celebration.

The Magic have not been very good at celebrating my birthday. They agreed to sign Rashard Lewis on my birthday. Which I still think was a good move if not for the price they paid.

I suspect the Magic are going to remain relatively quiet this free agency. They hit the salary floor in signing Ben Gordon and so there is not much need to spend much more of the cap room. Your instincts that the Magic will focus on 2015 free agency is a good one. Orlando is trying to keep its cap room — and could rent a big-salary player on an expiring contract to keep that room. There is still a lot of cap flexibility for the Magic when they find the guy they like.

If it were me, I like the idea of going after a young player who needs to prove he can stay in the league. A one- or two-year deal for Brandon Rush similar to Gordon’s deal would be a risk worth taking. If he is healthy that is. The Magic could go that way or get another big and plan on playing Tobias Harris at the three more. The rumored interest in Patrick Patterson or Trevor Booker then makes sense. Do not expect anyone to sign for more than one year guaranteed at this point (except Patterson who is a restricted free agent).

As for 2015, that is when things will get more interesting. The Magic will have cap holds for Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris if they do not sign extensions and that may limit their ability to get big-name free agents. Pushing those aside for now, I think the Magic should go after LaMarcus Aldridge (unrestricted free agent) or Kawhi Leonard (restricted free agent). Neither seem likely to leave at this point.

I am thinking the Magic will be fishing the trade market the next year or so.

It feels like the Ben Gordon move was a move to reach the payroll floor. For those that do not know, there is a penalty for teams that do not spend at least 80 percent of the salary cap. It is not a harsh penalty — they have to spread the amount to get to that point among the players on the roster. The salary cap this year is expected to be $63.2 million and so the floor should be set around $50.5 million.

Ben Gordon’s deal is a low-risk one. It gets them to that salary floor, keeps the team with significant cap room to take on salary in a deal later and allows them to get out of the deal quickly. The team option is absolutely key to the Gordon deal. If it works out great. If it doesn’t, he can be gone in a year.

Of course, the move does not exactly inspire confidence the team will be winning much this year.

I think we will see a big leap from Maurice Harkless this year. It is obviously his third year in the league and he has made some nice improvements from that first year. They did not always work. I think he struggled to adjust to his newfound strength and had not quite developed everything to be game-ready.

As the year went on though, I think he improved dramatically. His 3-point shooting went up as the season went on and you could see his confidence growing. Harkless will not be at Summer League this year, but he should have an expanded role with the Puerto Rico national team at the World Cup in August. I think this will help him take that leap for next year. Things are really starting to come together for Moe.

Yes. Only if you can defend.

Thanks everyone for the questions and the birthday wishes! Enjoy your 4th of July and Happy Independence Day. I will be back to do this again soon.

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

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