Summer agenda: Magic, Kings must choose future paths carefully

The Vertical
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Magic guard Evan Fournier, right, drives against the Kings’ Garrett Temple in a March game. (AP)
Magic guard Evan Fournier, right, drives against the Kings’ Garrett Temple in a March game. (AP)

The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a former 20-year executive with the Nets, looks at the possible offseason plans and roster details for every team in the league.

Previous teams in the series: Nets and Suns | Timberwolves and 76ers

ORLANDO

Offseason focus

1. Establishing a new voice

Whomever Orlando hires will become the franchise’s third general manager in the last 10 years. The new GM should have full autonomy over the roster. The team’s direction needs to be all about the long-term health of the organization. The team needs to build through the draft and become active on the trade front. It should not rely on cap space to put a foundation in place.

2. Trust coach Frank Vogel

Vogel is the third head coach in a five-year span for Orlando. He has a winning pedigree from his days in Indiana and a proven track record of player development and creating a basketball identity. He should be part of the interview process when Orlando meets with prospective general manager candidates. His relationship with the next head of basketball operations will be critical for the Magic.

3. The roster puzzle

The new GM will inherit an unbalanced roster that includes $30 million in salary at the center position. In a league in which teams are focusing on position-less players, Orlando went in the opposite direction last summer with the additions of Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Green and D.J. Augustin. The Magic need help at small forward and backup power forward, and must identify whether Elfrid Payton is their point guard of the future.

4. Salary not translating to wins

Orlando learned this past season that $104 million in salary (eighth in the NBA) does not guarantee a playoff berth. The Magic changed their philosophy of building through the draft and began taking risks on the trade market (Serge Ibaka) and in free agency. The moves obviously didn’t pay off.

5. Rookie extension candidates

Former lottery picks Aaron Gordon and Elfird Payton are extension-eligible this summer. Gordon was most effective this season at his true position of power forward. Still only 21, Gordan has missed only six games the past two seasons. Elfrid Payton has started 190 of 237 career games and has developed in each of his three seasons, but questions remain about his long-distance shooting and consistency. The franchise’s new management will need to decide both players’ value and if they are part of the future. They will have a combined $25 million cap hit in 2018 and tempering extension talks gives the Magic flexibility when both are restricted free agents.

The Magic need to decide if Aaron Gordon is a part of their future. (AP)
The Magic need to decide if Aaron Gordon is a part of their future. (AP)

Magic’s summer cap breakdown

Guaranteed                                     2017-18                                 Insider info
Bismack Biyombo                        $17,000,000
Evan Fournier                               $17,000,000
Nikola Vucevic                              $12,250,000                         Extension eligible
Terrence Ross                               $10,500,000                         Extension eligible
D.J. Augustin                                  $7,250,000
Aaron Gordon                                $5,504,420                      Rookie extension eligible
Mario Hezonja                               $4,078,320
Elfrid Payton                                  $3,332,340                      Rookie extension eligible

Non/partial                                      2017-18                               Guarantee date
C.J. Watson                                   $5,000,000                                   July 10
Stephen Zimmerman                     $1,312,611                                    July 6
Patricio Garino                               $1,312,611
Marcus Georges-Hunt                    $1,312,611

FA cap holds                                    2017-18                                  FA status
Jeff Green                                      $18,000,000                               Non-Bird
Jodie Meeks                                   $12,426,000                                   Bird
Damjan Rudez                                $1,724,305                              RFA non-Bird

First-round holds                              2017-18
Projected No. 5 selection                $4,609,200
Projected No. 25 selection              $1,516,440

Salary table                                        2017
Guaranteed salaries                    $77,915,080
Non-guaranteed                           $7,937,833
Tax variance                                   $317,543
FA/draft cap holds                       $36,759,505
Salaries: cap                                $122,612,418
Salaries: tax                                   $86,170,455
Salary cap                                    $101,000,000
Luxury tax                                    $121,000,000
Cap space                            None ($21,612,418 over)
Tax room                                       $34,829,545

Projected cap space

Orlando learned the hard way last summer that building through free agency and via risky trades comes with challenges.

Acquiring Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo (free agency) looked good on paper, but integrating each player with new coach Frank Vogel produced a disappointing product.

Now one year removed from having more $30 million in cap space, Orlando is now projected to have roughly $15 million.

The cap space factors in $38 million in free-agent cap holds, including those for Jeff Green and Jodie Meeks.

June draft picks

The Magic could have four draft picks in the top 34.

Orlando has its own first-round pick, projected to be No. 5 before the lottery. From the Serge Ibaka trade, Orlando has the Raptors’ first-round pick at No. 25.

Orlando also will have the No. 32 pick in the second round if the Lakers do not convey their first to Philadelphia. The Magic have their own second-round pick at No. 34.

Future draft picks

The Magic own their future first-round picks.

If Philadelphia receives the Lakers’ pick in 2017, then Orlando will receive a 2019 unprotected first from Los Angeles. The pick will turn into a second-round pick in 2017 and 2018 if not conveyed.

SACRAMENTO

Offseason focus

1. Take advantage of the draft

Having spent years missing opportunities in the draft and lacking a nucleus of quality young players, Sacramento turned the No. 8 pick in the draft last year into three first-round picks, including the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic. The theory proved to be sound, with the Kings focusing on quantity and player development. Now with five players on rookie contracts, not including former lottery pick Ben McLemore, the Kings potentially could have two picks in the top 10. The focus this year in a strong draft should be quality over quantity and not moving back in the draft to obtain more picks.

2. Don’t skip steps in rebuilding

The DeMarcus Cousins trade in February signaled a shift in philosophy. Instead of building the roster around a $200 million All-Star, Sacramento chose roster flexibility with an eye toward a strong 2017 draft. Sacramento will be judged on its ability to take a patient approach with realistic expectations as opposed to a short-term fix. The Kings, for a third consecutive summer, will likely have cap space, but with a focus on development, the team’s best approach would be focusing on one- or two-year contracts.

Rudy Gay will play a role in determining the Kings’ cap situation. (AP)
Rudy Gay will play a role in determining the Kings’ cap situation. (AP)

3. The direction of the roster

Sacramento will have seven players on first-round rookie contracts next season. How the Kings balance the roster will be based on the player options of Rudy Gay and Langston Galloway, and the team’s decision to retain veterans Arron Afflalo and Anthony Tolliver, who each have partially guaranteed contracts that become guaranteed on June 23 and July 1, respectively. If all four players do not return (either opt out or are waived), cap space would be created but at the cost veteran leadership.

4. Establish a long-term plan at point guard

Sacramento could have two cracks at finding its point guard of the future in the draft. The Kings have a glaring need with Darren Collison and Ty Lawson set to enter free agency. Though the free-agent market for point guards is loaded with franchise-caliber talent, the Kings’ best long-term path at filling the need is via the draft.

Kings summer cap breakdown

Guaranteed                                       2017-18                                Insider info
Rudy Gay                                        $14,263,566                      Player option June 10
Kosta Koufos                                   $8,393,000                          Extension eligible
Garrett Temple                                 $8,000,000
Langston Galloway                          $5,434,000                        Player option June 20
Willie Cauley-Stein                          $3,704,160
Buddy Hield                                     $3,675,480
Georgios Papagiannis                     $2,301,360
Malachi Richardson                        $1,504,560
Skal Labissiere                                 $1,312,611

Non/partial                                       2017-18                             Guarantee date
Arron Afflalo                                   $12,500,000                                June 23
Anthony Tolliver                              $8,000,000                                  July 1

FA cap holds                                     2017-18                                FA status
Tyreke Evans                                  $15,305,633                                   Bird
Ben McLemore                               $10,022,205                           Restricted Bird
Darren Collison                               $9,935,963                                    Bird
Ty Lawson                                        $1,471,382                                Non-Bird

First-round holds                              2017-18
Projected No. 8 selection                $3,501,120
Projected No. 10 selection              $3,057,240
Bogdan Bogdanovic                         $1,423,560

Dead cap                                          2017-18
Matt Barnes                                    $2,133,333
Caron Butler                                     $517,220

Salary table                                      2017-18
Guaranteed salaries                       $52,088,737
Dead money                                     $2,650,553
Non-guaranteed                             $17,000,000
Free-agent cap holds                      $44,717,103
Salaries: cap                                   $116,456,393
Salaries: tax                                     $71,739,290
Salary cap                                      $101,000,000
Luxury tax                                       $121,000,000
Cap space                              None ($15,456,393 over)
Tax room                                          $49,260,710

Projected cap space

The direction of the Kings’ cap space starts with Rudy Gay.

He’s coming off Achilles’ tendon surgery and has until June 10 to exercise or decline a $14.3 million player option.

While the Gay decision does impact Sacramento, cap flexibility still remains if Gay and Galloway (player option) return for another season.

However, to create the room Sacramento would have to release Afflalo and Tolliver, and renounce the $35 million in free-agent cap holds of Tyreke Evans, Collison and McLemore.

Cap space certainly has appeal, but free agency has been unpredictable for Sacramento in recent years.

June draft picks

The Kings could have two top-10 picks in this year’s draft but with a wrinkle.

Sacramento has its own first-round pick, projected to be No. 8. However, because of a prior trade, Philadelphia will have the right to swap picks in the top 10.

Chicago would receive the Kings’ first-round pick, but only if it falls outside of the top 10. If the Kings retain their own first, Chicago would then receive the No. 38 pick in the second round.

From the Cousins trade, New Orleans will send a top-three protected first and the No. 34 pick to Sacramento. The pick was acquired by New Orleans from Philadelphia in the Ish Smith trade in 2015.

Future draft picks

Sacramento will have the Pelicans’ pick in 2018, 2019 and 2020, which are top-one protected, and an unprotected pick in 2021 if Sacramento does not receive the pick in 2017.

The Kings will send a 2019 unprotected first-round pick to Philadelphia.

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