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The Orlando Magic signed Argentine wing Patricio Garino for the remainder of the season on Monday — a roster-filling move for a lottery-bound team that normally wouldn’t make headlines. Only, by doing so, the Magic inadvertently gave the rest of the NBA a window into their offseason plans.
GP Sports agent Carlos Prunes tweeted a congratulatory photo of his client putting pen to paper on a contract that includes a non-guaranteed $1.5 million qualifying offer for next season. This is a fairly common practice, except that Garino signed his deal in front of a dry-erase board that features Orlando’s free-agent and trade options for both hybrid forwards and stretch bigs this coming summer.
The picture includes a comprehensive list of names, including a few potentially curious targets for the Magic and one borderline blockbuster trade possibility. Prunes has since deleted the tweet, but this being the internet and all, the fine folks at Reddit NBA ensured the absurd photo will live on forever:
The team’s potential targets this summer are separated into four categories: hybrid trade, hybrid free agency, spread bigs trade and, presumably, free agent spread bigs. Here is the complete list:
That’s a fairly all-inclusive list of hybrid forwards and stretch bigs, save for some strange exceptions — most notably Blake Griffin, who the Magic may not have any hope of signing, and to a much lesser degree Garino, who Orlando just signed to fill an apparent playmaking need at the forward position.
The Argentine played summer league for the Magic before signing a non-guaranteed preseason deal with the San Antonio Spurs. He didn’t make the NBA roster, but joined San Antonio’s D-League affiliate in Austin, where Garino averaged a respectable 11.3 points (on 43 percent 3-point shooting), 3.4 rebounds, two assists and 1.5 steals in 29.2 minutes over 49 games. On Monday, Orlando essentially had him sign a contract in front of a list of his potential replacements in the forthcoming offseason.
The oddest of those potential replacements were Tobias Harris, Mo Harkless, Ersan Ilyasova and Serge Ibaka. Current Magic general manager Rob Hennigan traded Harkless for nothing (a top-55 protected 2020 second-round pick) in July 2015 before dealing Harris for Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings last year. He let Jennings walk and swapped Ilyasova, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in a draft-day trade for Ibaka, who was sent to the Toronto Raptors for Terrence Ross and a late first-rounder in February.
Essentially, Hennigan traded Harris, Oladipo, Harkless and the No. 11 pick in 2016 (Sabonis) for Ross and a much, much worse first-round pick in this year’s draft. All of that adds up to gross negligence. That doesn’t even include the fact that Hennigan also let Ryan Anderson go in a sign-and-trade for Gustavo Ayon in 2012 and signed Jeff Green to a $15 million contract for this season. Those two guys are also on the leaked list, which is probably why Hennigan downplayed it to the Orlando Sentinel:
Asked by the Orlando Sentinel for comment, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said the lists are “not indicative of plans” and were “simply listing options, including some of which other teams have inquired about.”
That might explain why guys like Deng, Carroll and Parsons — three of the league’s most cumbersome contracts — are listed on the whiteboard, but does it fully explain why Aaron Gordon appears as trade bait for Dario Saric in a setting where the Magic forward’s future teammate is signing a contract?
On the surface, Saric for Gordon would be a great deal for the Magic, because the Philadelphia 76ers’ likely Rookie of the Year fulfills both the shooting and playmaking potential that Gordon so sorely lacks and Orlando clearly desires. Remember, though, Orlando traded the rights to Saric and a first-round pick for the right to take Elfrid Payton at the 2014 NBA Draft. Saric certainly hasn’t forgotten:
In addition to Saric’s barb, this photo mishap created issues both internally and externally for the Magic. Coach Frank Vogel had to address it with Gordon on Tuesday, according to the Orlando Sentinel:
“It was definitely something that I wasn’t aware of before,” Gordon said today when asked about the dry-erase board’s content.
“It wasn’t for me to see, so for me to see something like that, it brings something that’s out of my control into my reality. But that’s neither here nor there. My plan and my focus is to play basketball and to enjoy the game of basketball. Anything other than that is out of my control. I love this organization and I’m going to continue to work hard and play.”
When asked how difficult it is to put it out of his mind, Gordon responded, “Obviously, I know that it’s there, but I just play the game. I trust my skills. I love my teammates. So with that, I can just play.”
The photo certainly indicates the Magic are more than willing to part with their former No. 4 overall pick. That could also lessen their bargaining power in potential trades this summer, and Hennigan’s “including some of which other teams have inquired about” line may have just tipped off other teams about potentially available players they didn’t know about — like Trey Lyles, Justise Winslow or Jabari Parker. So, this leaked list really is just a metaphor for how inept the Magic have been for years.
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