Orlando Magic Value Tracker: Comparing cap sheets and seeking value

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D'Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic
The Minnesota Timberwolves’ all-in move on D’Angelo Russell was a big risk they hope builds their foundation. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Compared to the Wolves

Another example is warranted here too.

Let’s look at the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team below the Orlando Magic in the standings and playing with the seventh-highest payroll in the league in 2020.

2020 VORP 2020 Market Value 2020 Salary Difference
Karl-Anthony Towns 2.9 $29,269,946.75 $27,285,000 +$1,984,946.75
Jordan McLaughlin 0.3 $5,327,359.25 $79,568 +$5,247,791.25
James Johnson 0.3 $5,327,359.25 $15,349,400 -$10,022,040.75
Malik Beasley 0.2 $4,406,490.50 $2,731,713 +$1,674,777.50
D’Angelo Russell 0.2 $4,406,490.50 $27,285,000 -$22,878,509.50
Juan Hernangomez 0.1 $3,485,621.75 $3,321,029 +$164,592.75
Naz Reid 0.0 $2,564,753.00 $898,310 +$1,666,443.00
Jaylen Nowell -0.1 $1,643,884.25 $1,400,000 +$243,884.25
Josh Okogie -0.2 $723,015.50 $2,530,680 -$1,807,664.50
Jake Layman -0.2 $723,015.50 $3,581,986 -$2,858,970.50
Kelan Martin -0.3 -$197,853.25 $79,568 -$277,421.25
Allen Crabbe -0.3 -$197,853.25 $17,818,456 -$18,016,309.25
Jarrett Culver -0.8 -$4,802,197.00 $5,813,640 -$10,615,837.00
2020 VORP 2020 Market Value 2020 Salary Difference

Like the Philadelphia 76ers, the Minnesota Timberwolves have a top talent in Karl-Anthony Towns. But his effect on winning is similar to Embiid. this year, at least, it was not as pronounced. Nikola Vucevic rated better in VORP.

But what weighs the Timberwolves down is the dead salary. Players like Allen Crabbe and James Johnson performed so woefully under their contract’s value, that it is impossible to do even simple moves. It is impossible to win and get value when players are simply not giving a team anything.

The only thing Minnesota could do was draft better and find G-League players who could step up. Then again, the Timberwolves spent last season (at least by the deadline), trying to reset their team.

Having big contracts is not a problem. Having big contracts — like the 76ers with Al Horford and Tobias Harris — who do not contribute anything is a huge issue for any team. For now, the Magic do not have players like this. They may have players who underperformed, but they are at least contributing to the team’s potential success.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota Timberwolves /

Minnesota Timberwolves

That left Minnesota in a difficult spot. And the Timberwolves took a big risk with a major trade (a very calculated one) to try to set up their future.

This might well be the Magic’s future if the team struggles this season.

Orlando probably wants to enter the season going for the playoffs. But if there are struggles before the trade deadline, the team may begin to seek more significant changes.

Thus, Minnesota is a good model.

The Timberwolves swinging the Andrew Wiggins-for-D’Angelo Russell swap though proved that just having these bigger salaries can create the flexibility to improve. Wiggins had an overall VORP of 0.8 this season (0.6 with the Minnesota Timberwolves and 0.2 with the Golden State Warriors). His market value of $9.8 million had him playing $17.7 million worse than his contract amount.

But they had the ability to still make this move. And the sample size with Russell with the Timberwolves and playing alongside Towns is so small that it is hard to make any conclusions. For simplicity’s sake, I did not separate traded players’ VORP for these tables, so the actual values might be different for a player like Russell.

This is probably still a roundabout way of saying, players playing better will present more value. Teams that win at a high level will have more value.