Early offseason targets to fill Orlando Magic’s need on the wings

Evan Fournier faces the biggest decision of the Orlando Magic's offseason and Wesley Matthews could be the guy to replace him. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Evan Fournier faces the biggest decision of the Orlando Magic's offseason and Wesley Matthews could be the guy to replace him. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
Maurice Harkless, LA Clippers
Former Orlando Magic forward Maurice Harkless is back on the market this summer and could be a free-agent target. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Free Agents

The Orlando Magic will face some difficult choices this summer as they look to remake their roster. The biggest one centers around Evan Fournier and whether he will opt-in to the final year of his contract. That more than anything probably sparked this debate.

At this point, it is unclear what the NBA’s salary cap structure will look like following the financial losses from China in the fall and now the season hiatus in the spring. Optimistic estimates have the salary cap staying static. And those are extremely optimistic.

The Magic have $96 million committed to next season before any options and rookie contracts (including Chuma Okeke). That would give the team a max of roughly $13 million in cap room. Okeke’s contract along with whomever the Magic draft will eat up almost of that space.

Orlando will once again operate as a team over the cap. They will have about $9 million to spend from the mid-level exception (the same deal that Al-Farouq Aminu got).

It got them Aminu last year, a low-end starter quality player. And if the Magic lose Evan Fournier, they are probably looking for someone to fill starter minutes so they can give way to Terrence Ross to close the game.

More from Analysis

That would leave the Magic looking at players like Wesley Matthews, Kent Bazemore and Bryn Forbes among others. None of those names may jump off the page. They could also look at Jae Crowder, Pat Connaughton or Maurice Harkless as potential options too.

It is not likely the Magic could muster the money to go after Gordon Hayward (if he opts out), DeMar DeRozan (if he opts out) or Bogdan Bogdanovic (a restricted free agent this offseason). Those might be the top-end targets.

Bazemore is coming off a contract that paid him $19 million. He was averaging 8.7 points per game on a 45.3-percent effective field goal percentage this season with the Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings. His shooting has been inconsistent throughout his career but he has always been a  great teammate and solid contributor.

Wesley Matthews has found a second life with the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 7.5 points per game and shooting 36.5 percent from beyond the arc. He is a career 38.1 percent 3-point shooter. After rupturing his Achilles in 2015, Matthews has bounced around the league some but has continued to be a solid veteran presence and shooter.

Especially if the Magic lose out on Fournier, Matthews would be about as good as the team could do to add a starter-caliber player who can play a role and still defend at a high level. He would be the best overall option to add to the team — either as a starter or off the bench.

Magic fans are certainly familiar with Maurice Harkless.

The former Magic forward has bounced around the league and has carved out a spot as a solid wing defender. But his shooting never came around. He was averaging 5.8 points per game on 34.7 percent 3-point shooting for the LA Clippers and New York Knicks.

Bryn Forbes is intriguing as a shooter especially — 38.8 percent 3-point shooting for the San Antonio Spurs this year and a career 40-percent 3-point shooter. But at 6-foot-2, he is undersized as a shooting guard.

It is a thin free agency pool. No matter whether the Magic re-sign Fournier or not, if they go through free agency, these are the kind of players the Magic should look at for wing help.

Matthews would especially be a strong guy to chase. But with so few quality free agents available, the whole league might be after him with at least a part of their mid-level exception.