Before the Orlando Magic hit free agency Friday, there was some business to do.
It started Thursday with the team picking up the team option for Goga Bitadze and declining team options for Michael Carter-Williams and Admiral Schofield.
It continued Friday before the starting gun for free agency began. The Magic opted to guarantee the contracts for Markelle Fultz and Gary Harris, locking in two starter-level players and limiting the money they had to spend in free agency. The Orlando Sentinel was the first to report the Magic’s contract decisions.
The Orlando Magic get two things back with the guarantees of Fultz and Harris’ contracts. First, they get their point guard of the future back. And second, they get a needed three-point shooter off the bench for the upcoming season.
Fultz is set to earn right around $17 million. Harris will earn $13 million for the final year of his deal.
During the 2023 season, Fultz played in 60 games averaging right around 30 minutes in each of those contests. It was very easily his best season averaging 14.0 points a game on 51.4 percent shooting from the field. He also averaged 3.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
All of those previously listed stats were the best marks he has reached in his six-year career. He also shot better than 30 percent from three for the first time in his career.
He was even better after the All-Star Break, averaging 15.6 points per game and 6.0 assists per game with shooting splits of 53.3/32.4/81.1.
It was clear Fultz became way more well-balanced in all facets of the game in 2023. He has the most minutes and the most experience out of any of the other big point guards on the team like Cole Anthony and the recently drafted Anthony Black.
There is only one season left on Markelle Fultz’s contract, but it seems head coach Jamahl Mosley thinks the Magic can work with him a lot in future seasons.
One of the bigger questions remaining this offseason will be whether the Magic decide to extend Fultz’s contract. He would be extension eligible beginning in October. With the Magic drafting Anthony Black and the general log jam at guard with Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony in the mix, this does not seem like quite the slam dunk.
Still, Fultz is the best guard option for the Magic at the moment. And he showed hints of what made him the No. 1 overall pick as he slowly puts his health issues behind him. Orlando certainly seems like it is in a position to let him see how much he has grown after the strong finish to last season.
For Harris, he played in a little more than half of Orlando’s games last season (48). In those appearances, he averaged right around 25 minutes per game while averaging 8.3 points on 45.0 percent from the field.
The real strength of Harris’ game is his three-point shooting. He had the best percentage on the team at 43.1 percent. Jonathan Issac and Gary Harris were the only two Orlando players with a three-point percentage better than 40 percent.
For a team that is not considered a good shooting team, Harris was important because he was one of the few players the Magic could rely on as a shooter.
Harris had the fourth most three-point attempts (218) on the team behind three Orlando starters (Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, and Wendell Carter). However, out of those 218 attempts, he made 94 of them which was the second most on the team only behind Wagner, who had 130.
It is clear Harris provides value for the Magic in long-range shooting. Orlando retains this quality of his by guaranteeing his contract for next season.
More than this, the Magic retained two key starters for their team and continued to maintain the internal competition they expect to have in training camp next year.