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We're still waiting for the big names to make their decisions, but some smaller deals continue to get done. Let's continue rolling through the agreements that have been reached — "reached," but not completed, as no deal can become official until after the July 10 end of the league's annual moratorium on trades and signings — starting in Central Florida.
• The Orlando Magic and big man Channing Frye agreed Monday on a four-year, $32 million contract, according to Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski. It's a straight four-year deal, with no team or player options of any kind, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, and the $8 million average annual value represents a nice come-up from the $6.8 million Frye would have made in Phoenix in the final year of his prior contract had he not exercised his player option for the 2014-15 campaign.
First thing's first: This is awesome for Frye, who missed the entire 2012-13 season after a September 2012 physical revealed an enlarged heart that threatened to end his entire career.
After a year away, the 6-foot-11 forward/center was cleared to play and brought back into the fold on a Suns team that few expected to do much more than lose games and develop young talent. They did a hell of a lot more than that, staying in playoff contention in the loaded Western Conference until the last days of the season thanks to the go-go two-point-guard backcourt of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, a stellar coaching job by first-year bench boss Jeff Hornacek, and strong play by a host of role-players ... including Frye, who started all 82 games, chipping in just over 11 points and five rebounds in 28 minutes per game, and picked up where he left off as a lethal offensive space-creator.
Frye drilled 37 percent of his 3-point attempts — actually a tick below his 38.5 percent career mark in eight NBA seasons — and took a career-high 6.7 deep attempts per 36 minutes of floor time. His threatening presence off pick-and-pop actions tilted defenses, pulling opposing big men out of the paint and creating all sorts of driving room for the always-attacking Dragic and Bledsoe, who took full advantage en-route to turning in career-best seasons.
Frye's gravity on the perimeter was an integral part of a Suns offense that shocked league observers by scoring an average of 107.1 points per 100 possessions, the eighth-best offensive efficiency mark in the NBA last season. Just how integral shows up when looking at Frye's on/off-court numbers — Phoenix scored at a rate that would've ranked No. 1 in the league (110.4-per-100) with Frye on the floor last season, and at the equivalent of a bottom-10 rate (102.5-per-100) when he sat, according to NBA.com's stat tool. Among Suns regulars, only point guard Dragic — an All-NBA Third Team selection — made a bigger difference on Phoenix's offensive efficiency. (Frye's additive impact also showed up clearly when considering the production of players like Dragic and fellow frontcourt rotation member Markieff Morris with and without Frye, as detailed by Upside and Motor's Sam Vecenie.)
The eight-year veteran will be asked to provide the same sort of across-the-board benefit for a Magic team whose offense appears likely to be predicated on the backcourt slashing and playmaking of rising sophomore Victor Oladipo and 2014 first-rounder Elfrid Payton, and that looks to be dreadfully short on shooting.
Orlando's offense was abysmal last year, ranking second-worst in the league in points scored per possession. Their lack of long-range proficiency was one big reason why, as the Magic finished 21st among 30 NBA teams in 3-pointers made and attempted last season, and tied with the Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks for 19th in overall long-distance accuracy. Compounding matters, in the early stages of this offseason, the Magic promptly bid farewell to four of the top five 3-point shooters on their roster, trading starting shooting guard Arron Afflalo (42.7 percent on 3s last year, the sixth-best mark in the NBA), waiving both little-used reserve Doron Lamb (40 percent) and longtime starting point guard Jameer Nelson (34.8 percent), and rescinding their qualifying offer to reserve E'Twaun Moore (35.4 percent).
The only returning member of the Magic who shot above-league-average from 3-point land last season was swingman Maurice Harkless, who canned 38.3 percent of his triples as a sophomore. Evan Fournier, whom the Denver Nuggets sent over in exchange for Afflalo, has hit from deep at a 38.1 percent clip in his two NBA seasons, but as Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post notes, the 21-year-old French guard figures to be less of a stationary spot-up shooter than a ball-handling, facilitating playmaker in Orlando. Ben Gordon ... I mean, maybe, but I'll need to see it to believe it.
Frye adds a real-deal reliable long-range weapon whose mere presence could help Oladipo and Payton find their way to the rim, and could give frontcourt players like Nikola Vucevic (who took 63.5 percent of his shots inside the paint last season) and Tobias Harris (who's more of a bully-block player that likes to try work his way toward the rim from midrange, and is also Frye's cousin) more room to operate in their respective comfort zones. There's value to that, and there's value to adding a respected, reputable veteran like Frye to a Magic locker room teeming with young players.
That said, $8 million per year worth of value seems unlikely. Frye's a better defender than you might think given his slender frame, but he's not really a top-flight two-way player, and while his shooting-dependent game should age well as his contract wends its way toward his mid-30s, it doesn't seem reasonable to expect him to provide significantly more production over the next four years than he did in Phoenix last year. And while some will argue that the rookie-contract-heavy Magic are overpaying guys like Gordon and Frye because they've got to pay somebody, they don't really have to spend their way up to the salary floor; if a team's total payroll comes in under 90 percent of the salary cap (projected to be $63.2 million this year), all said team has to do is distribute the shortfall among the players on their roster, which is barely a penalty at all. (And kind of a nice bonus for those rookies, too.)
Still, it's difficult to get too worked up about Orlando overpaying Frye. He should help the Magic offense take steps forward, he should help head coach Jacque Vaughn's messages filter throughout the young locker room, and he should help Orlando win more games over the next couple of seasons without wrecking the future roster-building flexibility of a Magic team that doesn't look ready to meaningfully compete just yet.
• The Brooklyn Nets have agreed to a three-year deal with 2011 second-round draft pick Bojan Bogdanovic, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York. The 25-year-old Croatian forward will receive the Nets' taxpayer mid-level exception starting at just under $3.3 million next year, according to Youngmisuk, who also reports that the deal includes a player option for Year 3.
If this sounds familiar to you, that might be because you remember the Nets trying to do the exact same thing last summer, when they turned their attention to bringing Bogdanovic over from Turkey, where he had been playing for Euroleague club Fenerbahçe Ülker, to try to add some outside shooting on the wing behind starters Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson. Shortly after news broke that Bogdanovic had agreed to terms on a three-year, mini-MLE deal to come to Brooklyn, though, Nets general manager Billy King was saying he was "concerned" about being able to extricate Bogdanovic from his Turkish contract; buyout negotiations soon broke down, with Bogdanovic staying in Turkey for the 2013-14 season and the Nets, somewhat infamously, winding up using the mini-MLE on free-agent forward Andrei Kirilenko.
One year later, the Nets could still use some depth on the wing — an especially pressing need if they decline to bring back the 36-year-old Pierce at the reported $9 million to $10 million annual figure he's reportedly seeking. And Bogdanovic — now without a contract buyout, according to NetsDaily — is still interested in making the jump to the NBA. The bloom's off the rose a bit, though, as the 6-foot-8 swingman shot just under 30 percent from the international 3-point line for Fener during the 2013-14 Euroleague season after topping 40 percent from deep in each of the two previous seasons.
Bogdanovic did, however, knock down 35 percent of his triples for Fener overall last season, according to RealGM's international stats, while also dishing a career-high 2.2 assists per game as he took on an increased playmaking role for the Turkish side. His game's drawn a variety of comparisons over the years, with names like Pierce, Peja Stojakovic and Carlos Delfino coming up, albeit with "poor man's" tending to appear somewhere in the neighborhood of such comps. Writing at Upside and Motor, international basketball maven Rafael Uehara calls Bogdanovic a gunner who's excellent on catch-and-shoot opportunities and capable when firing off a pull-up dribble, a decent passer who doesn't figure to be a high-end playmaker at the NBA level, and a wing who "will need to be hidden" defensively and shouldn't be counted on to contribute significantly on the glass. Not the most encouraging scouting report you've ever read in your life, but hey, at least there's the shooting!
The tasks of both maximizing Bogdanovic's offensive impact and minimizing the defensive fallout will fall to new Nets head coach Lionel Hollins, who reportedly impressed King during his interview with, among other things, his ideas for how to use Bogdanovic should he enter the fold, according to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix. That said, King demurred on Monday when asked about any new developments on that front.
“There’s nothing to announce right now," he said, according to Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. "We can’t announce anything until we can announce things.”
Well, that stands to reason.
• The Detroit Pistons have agreed to a multi-year deal with veteran reserve center Aaron Gray, according to Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Marc J. Spears. It's a two-year deal, according to David Mayo of MLive.com, and it's believed to be for the veteran's minimum, according to Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News.
Per the collective bargaining agreement, that'd pay Gray, who's entering his eighth NBA season, about $1.3 million; kind of a neat bit of symmetry, considering he averaged 1.3 points per game in four appearances for the Toronto Raptors last season. (He scored a much more robust 1.8 points per contest in 33 games with the Sacramento Kings after being sent west in a trade headlined by Rudy Gay.)
Gray, 29, has made a career of being professionally big. He's 7 feet tall and 270 pounds, and is aware of the value of using his size to hit people, averaging 6.3 personal fouls per 36 minutes of floor time over the course of his seven-year professional career. He has, however, found favor with several defensive-minded coaches over the years — including Jeff Bower, the Pistons' new general manager, who coached Gray with the then-New Orleans Hornets — and provides a veteran bruiser to take the floor for a few minutes at a time behind rising star center Andre Drummond and restricted free agent Greg Monroe, whom new Pistons president of basketball operations and head coach Stan Van Gundy is expected to work to keep rather than let walk for nothing.
It's another somewhat underwhelming move in an offseason that's already seen the Pistons give Jodie Meeks $19.5 million and add journeyman swingman Cartier Martin on a one-year deal, and as ProBasketballTalk's Dan Feldman notes, it could create a roster crunch and/or mean the end of the line for Josh Harrellson, a prospective floor-spacing big who would figure to pair well with the likes of Drummond and Monroe, but was limited by injury to just 32 appearances last season.
I don't have any more things to say about Aaron Gray.
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