Cole Anthony’s contract extension leaves all financial doors open to Orlando Magic

Cole Anthony and the Orlando Magic withstood a big test to defeat the Houston Rockets. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Cole Anthony and the Orlando Magic withstood a big test to defeat the Houston Rockets. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Cole Anthony’s recent three-year, $39-million contract extension is a boon for the Orlando Magic, providing them a dynamic, hard working, young scorer, while preserving ultimate financial flexibility moving forward.

The contract is an above-average value for the caliber of player Anthony is, and certainly, the player he can become.

The 23 year old, confident shooter has only increased his efficiency from the field and beyond the arc since coming into the league, to where it stands early in the 2024 season entering Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers at 47.3 percent and 39.0 percent respectively.

Anthony entered Saturday’s game averaging 15.6 points per game off the bench as the driver of the second unit. Last season, he was the league’s 12th best rebounding guard.

The three year contract, average annual value (AAV) of approximately $13 million, kicks in next year when it will represent 9.08 percent of the salary cap projection for the 2025 season. The non-taxpayer mid-level exception is projected to be about the same (NTPMLE).

That level of contract communicates that the Magic see Anthony as a high-level rotational player, a seemingly fair valuation.

The deal, two years guaranteed with a third year team option, is one of only two contracts the Magic have on the books for the 2026 season. The other is Wendell Carter.

We assume that others will soon follow. There are a plethora of deals that the Magic will decide upon in the near future. Most prominently among them being the contracts of Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero.

Max rookie extensions are five years, 25 percent of the salary cap. A rookie can qualify to earn 30 percent of the salary cap if they are All-NBA in the season prior to their signing the extension or in two of their three previous seasons. This season will determine if Wagner has a chance to qualify.

Having two players whose contracts will take up 50-60 percent of the cap, makes Anthony’s deal, 7.5 percent of the projected cap in 2027, seem like all that much more of a bargain.

And the great thing about extending the talented players the Magic drafted is that the team possesses their Bird Rights, meaning the team can go over the salary cap to re-sign him.

So, if Anthony continues to improve as a player and wants to earn a larger percent of the salary cap, the Magic can extend him at whatever number they mutually agree upon, without worry of crossing the first or, though highly unlikely, second tax aprons.

Teams do not have the same level of flexibility to spend into the tax aprons when signing a free agent or trading for players.

Orlando has done well to keep its books clean. The Magic have the flexibility to get involved in future star trades or spend in free agency for at least the next two summers —the team is currently projected to have $38.3 million in cap room according to Spotrac now after Cole Anthony’s extension and that may not include the non-guaranteed nature of Jonathan Isaac’s $17-million final season.

Anthony’s contract is also extremely tradable. An approximation for the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, an exception for which roughly twenty teams would qualify this year, makes him easily moved if that is what the team wants to do.

For his production and the way he has played to start the 2024 season, there seems to be little desire to explore that market. Anthony can make a real impact for the Magic in the present and moving forward.

When the next contract decision is made for Anthony, the Magic will hopefully be weighing their financial options with an eye on pushing for a championship. Roster construction will play a primary role in whether that fantasy becomes reality, and in the Anthony extension, the Magic have left all doors open.