While the Orlando Magic’s core players under contract for at least two more years, minimum-level restricted free-agents Wesley Iwundu and Gary Clark and unrestricted free-agents D.J. Augustin, Michael Carter-Williams and James Ennis entered the free-agency period without a guarantee of playing for the Magic 2021.
Augustin was the most expensive of them all, but he opted for a pay cut to join the Milwaukee Bucks and contend for a championship.
In addition to their five impending free agency decisions, Orlando also had two incoming rookies to sign: Chuma Okeke, their 2019 first-round selection, and Cole Anthony, whom the Magic selected 15th overall last week.
The Magic’s decision to draft Anthony likely also swayed Augustin’s decision. Orlando was officially turning the keys over to Markelle Fultz and D.J. Augustin never really fit the up-tempo style the Magic were looking to implement.
Before the start of free agency, the Magic’s committed salary obligations already exceeded the projected salary cap of $109.1 million for the 2021 season. Though some of this money was held for Evan Fournier who had a player option for the 2021 season. He chose to take that option and stay with the team for the final year of his deal.
This was expected. Fournier has been effective in Orlando as the team’s only reliable outside shooter but it’s unlikely he would command that level of interest on the open market.
With Fournier returning, the Magic knew they would be unable to re-sign all of their remaining free agents. Doing so would bring Orlando over the luxury tax apron, making the roster much more expensive.
Ultimately, the franchise decided to cut Iwundu loose, which is a more serious loss than most Magic fans may admit to. Iwundu showed promise last season, particularly on the defensive end of the floor.
The Magic reached agreements with Carter-Williams and Ennis shortly after the free-agency moratorium began. Later the same day, they also agreed to terms with Clark for a 2-year, $4.1-million contract.
Seeing the need for further depth at small forward, the Magic signed restricted free-agent Dwayne Bacon on a minimum deal. On the surface, the decision between Iwundu and Bacon came down to cost, and the Magic’s preference toward Carter-Williams and Ennis over Iwundu.
Without the exact salary figures for Carter-Williams and Ennis, we can only speculate on the decision to let Iwundu walk. Iwunud reportedly signed a minimum deal with the Dallas Mavericks.
Bacon is a low-risk bet on a reclamation project. He had a strong offensive showing two seasons ago before his 3-point accuracy fell to 28-percent last season on a low volume of attempts.
Either the Magic like his defensive ability enough to compensate or they are hoping that his shooting recovers in a limited role. But his familiarity with Steve Clifford from his time with the Charlotte Hornets likely played a role in bringing him as insurance at the end of the bench.
Late on Tuesday, the Magic signed Jordan Bone, a former stand-out at Tennessee who played five games for the Detroit Pistons last season. Bone signed a two-way contract, meaning he will split his time between Lakewood and Orlando.
The second two-way spot appears headed to Karim Mane, a 6-foot-6 guard with a long wingspan from Canada.