UPDATE: To clarify, this post is in response to the recent news that Brandon Bass was offered a 5-year, $25-million offer from somebody, meaning Bass would cost most of the mid-level exception if the Magic were to outbid his current offer. And the Mavericks are expected to give out a 5-year deal to Gortat, an amount the Magic will not match. This spring, the Orlando Magic battled the big boys for the first time in more than a decade. One by one, they took on the Celtics, Cavaliers and Lakers on their way to the NBA Finals. Now the Magic are finding out that it wasn’t just a battle — it’s turned into a long-term war. They’re in the middle of it now as their main competition is reloading for another run next year. Cleveland, Boston, L.A. and San Antonio have strengthened themselves through free agency and trades. The Magic, meanwhile, added a fourth all-star to their starting lineup but lost an upstart rookie and their versatile, facilitating small forward. The Magic are a little bit better than they were a month ago, but it’s not a huge difference. The good news: there’s still time for the Magic to help their team. Rasheed Wallace, thought to be Orlando’s top target, is headed to Boston. That leaves Brandon Bass, Antonio McDyess and Zaza Pachulia as the remaining big men left in the free-agent pool — and the Magic have reportedly only talked to Bass out of that bunch. That leaves three real options in bolstering their biggest need right now, which is power forward/backup to Dwight Howard. 1. Sign Brandon Bass, which is no given as plenty of other teams are courting the young big man. And he’s expected to garner almost the entire mid-level exception. 2. Match the Mavericks’ offer to Marcin Gortat — because he’s a restricted free agent, the Magic can equal any offer by another team and bring him back — and absorb Gortat’s new contract number for a couple years. 3. Sign a lower-tiered big man, a basement-cheap big to play 10-12 minutes behind Howard and nothing else. The Magic are best off going with option No. 2. Gortat will be expensive — the Mavericks are planning to use the entire MLE on him — and that’s an amount of money the Magic can’t afford to use on a backup big man. But I’m not sold on Bass. To me, he doesn’t pass the eye test. I went to the Mavericks game this year, and I don’t remember Bass being on the floor. I honestly couldn’t remember if he played or not. Is that a guy we want to spend all of our money on? Gortat outshined Bass in virtually every advanced statistic this season — offensive rating (121 to 113), defensive rating (97 to 108), rebounding percentage (26.7% to 13.4%), block percentage (4.8% to 2.3%) and true shooting percentage (58.3% to 57.1%). And against the good teams, Bass generally disappeared. Brandon Bass, 2008-09 season Against all teams: 8.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 19.3 minutes Against CLE, LAL, BOS, SAS: 5.2 points, 1.9 rebounds, 14.1 minutes Are we sure a Gortat-for-Bass swap is in our favor? Wallace is gone and McDyess is looking elsewhere. The Magic have to do something, and I wouldn’t want them to sign Bass to a multi-year contract and be sweating it later on. They’re basically paying for potential at this point. As we all know, though, things can change in a minute during NBA free-agency. I don’t know what to think. What do you think? Should the Magic dip into the luxury tax to re-sign Gortat?
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