The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a 20-year executive with the Nets, examines the offseason plans for teams that didn’t make the postseason.
The benefit of having young players on rookie contracts is they are cheap and controllable. The negative is that eventually the rookie window closes and free agency dawns.
With Oladipo entering his rookie extension summer and Payton having trouble handling the point on a consistent basis, Orlando would be wise to gauge league interest on both players.
Finding the right market for Vucevic could be a challenge. Vucevic is one of the better offensive centers in the NBA and his cap-friendly contract should only be moved if he’s part of a bigger package.
Roster fit with Scott Skiles
Similar to Fred Hoiberg’s situation in Chicago, one of the toughest tasks for a new coach is inheriting a roster. The main difference for Magic coach Scott Skiles is he took over a young core that had been built through the draft and trades.
Orlando has made steady progress, winning 10 more games than last season, but the hard part for the Magic will be taking that next step.
The offseason will allow management and the coaching staff more time to identify what pieces will be part of the long-term plan.
Be careful with cap space
The Magic have made it known that they will be aggressive in free agency.
With $30 million in cap space, the Magic need to exercise caution. It is one thing to be aggressive but another to be reckless. Orlando shouldn’t compensate for missing out on its free-agent targets by overspending on other players to fill needs.
The timing of Evan Fournier
Timing will be the key to how Orlando handles Evan Fournier’s free agency. With a $5.7 million cap hold, Fournier should see that number double to a salary north of $10 million. What the Magic need to do is get a comfort level with his agent on Fournier’s salary demand before July 1. Orlando should do its best to avoid having Fournier sign an offer sheet with another team and tying up cap space.
The best route for Orlando is get its free-agent goals accomplished and then circle back to Fournier, even if that means overpaying the shooting guard.
This is not the summer for teams with cap space to look for a point guard on the open market. Payton has shown signs of improving but not at the level of a reliable point guard. The goal for Orlando this summer is to look for an upgrade or complement to Payton. Veteran C.J. Watson, who was signed last July, and Brandon Jennings, acquired in a midseason trade, were thought to be solutions but neither got the job done.
Finding help at the wing position should be a priority. Tobias Harris was traded to Detroit in February, and Orlando has cap space and a glaring need at small forward.
Hezonja and Gordon also need reliable backups who will push them and speed up development.
SUMMER CAP BREAKDOWN
|1. Nikola Vucevic||$11,750,000||None|
|2. Victor Oladipo||$6,552,960||Eligible for rookie extension|
|3. C.J. Watson||$5,000,000||None|
|4. Aaron Gordon||$4,351,320||None|
|5. Mario Hezonja||$3,909,840||None|
|6. Elfrid Payton||$2,613,600||None|
|7. Shabazz Napier||$1,350,120||None|
|8. Ersan Ilyasova||$8,400,000||July 1|
|9. Devyn Marble||$980,431||July 15|
|FA cap holds||2016-17|| |
|10. Jason Smith||$5,160,000||Full Bird rights|
|11. Andrew Nicholson||$5,951,483||Restricted/full Bird rights|
|12. Evan Fournier||$5,720,513||Restricted/full Bird rights|
|13. Dewayne Dedmon||$1,215,696||Restricted/full Bird rights|
|14. Brandon Jennings||$12,515,746|| |
Full Bird rights
|15. Own at No. 11||$2,033,500|
|FA cap holds||$30,563,438|
PROJECTED CAP SPACE
With $14 million in cap space, the Magic could see that number grow to $28 million. The doubled amount factors in the resolution of the restricted cap holds on Andrew Nicholson, Fournier and key bench player Jason Smith.
The Magic could eventually get close to $40 million in room based on the non-guaranteed contract of Ersan Ilyasova (July 1 cut date) and if Smith signs elsewhere. But Orlando should hold on to Ilyasova and not create additional cap space. There are few 28-year-old stretch power forwards playing on such a manageable contract.
JUNE DRAFT PICKS
First round: Own
Second round: Own; has Portland’s selection
2018: Own; may have the Lakers’ pick (protected Nos. 1-5) if Los Angeles sends a 2016 first to Philadelphia.
2019: Own; has the Lakers’ pick (unprotected) if Los Angeles sends a 2017 first to Philadelphia.
Own all first round picks.
Key rights to: Tyler Harvey (Pick No. 51, 2015); Janis Timma (Pick No. 60, 2013)
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