Free agents the Orlando Magic can throw the bag at
Gary Harris, Orlando Magic
Why start far from home?
The Orlando Magic already have a veteran wing who knows the team and its culture, has a relationship with players on the team and can do all the things the Magic need from a player in his position.
Gary Harris was the perfect veteran for the Magic last year. He spaced the floor well as a shooter — especially from the right corner — and defended at a high level. He put in his work behind the scenes to show the young players the way. He fit in perfectly with everything the Magic were trying to do.
After years of dealing with injuries that hampered his abilities, Harris had a healthy year an proved himself ready to contribute meaningfully again.
He averaged 11.1 points per game while shooting 38.4-percent from beyond the arc. More importantly, he played 61 games, the most games he has played since his breakout 2018 season. And he would have played more if not for the team’s “focus on development” late in the season.
Harris is very much the known for this team. Orlando knows exactly what it is getting in him.
It should not be lost on anyone that teams were circling the Magic hoping they would buy out Harris and let him hit the free agency market before the end of last season. Those same playoff-caliber teams are circling again for sure.
It probably says something once again that Harris opted to stay.
What does that mean for his free agency? That is hard to tell.
Harris made $19.2 million last year. He is probably not worth making that much — and that would make him the highest-paid player on the team. But there are few playoff teams with that kind of money to throw around.
Harris should probably earn something a bit more than the nontaxpayer mid-level exception (somewhere between $9-10 million). And this is where the Magic have an advantage.
Orlando could easily wow him with a three-year deal that averages a whole lot more, giving the team a necessary mid-tier contract to help it make trades down the road. The overpay is probably the cost of getting him over playoff teams.
It is not clear what Harris wants. He, like Terrence Ross, is at a stage of his career where he should be looking to help a team win. And there will be plenty of winning teams chasing him.
The only advantage Orlando has to retain Harris is familiarity and more money to spend on him. That might be what it takes.