The Orlando Magic’s pressing needs on draft night were shooting, scoring and perimeter defensive. The first two weren’t addressed. Hopefully those needs will be addressed in free agency.
The past regime was reckless with their spending on free agents. They always swung for the fences and missed terribly. Look no further than last summer’s signings of D.J. Augustine, Jeff Green and Bismack Biyombo.
There are no big fishes to chase this season. That is probably a good thing since the Magic has only $14.6 million in cap space.
However, there are several lower tier players that compliment a young core of Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon and Nik Vucevic.
Due to financial reasons, nabbing only one of these free agents is highly possible. Unless they can unload Biyombo’s massive anchor of a contract, then maybe two is possible.
TIM HARDAWAY, JR – (25 years old) 6’6″ 205lbs – RESTRICTED
Hardaway Junior is restricted so the Atlanta Hawks could match any offer he receives. THJ is a shooter with length to become a defensive standout. 2016-2017 was a breakout season for the 4-year pro. He averaged 14.5 points per game on 54% shooting on 2’s and 36% on 3’s. Most importantly he competes, on both ends, something that can’t be said about several guys currently on the Magic roster.
OTTO PORTER, JR – (24 years old) 6’8″ 198lbs – RESTRICTED
Potter Junior was the Washington Wizards defensive stopper in 2016-2017. That’s the number one reason the Magic should be attracted to him. The second reason is because he finished fourth in the Association in 3-point percentage at 43.4%. Porter also shoots 58% on 2’s. He averaged 13.4 points per game, on ten shot attempts per game, for a team where he was the fourth option. If Orlando signs him, he adds much-needed shooting and allows the team to be an aggressive perimeter defensive team. He can play three positions in today’s small ball NBA.
JONATHAN SIMMONS – (27 years old) 6’6″ 195lbs – RESTRICTED
Any player from the Spurs system is all right in my book. Simmons is a defensive ace, with elite athleticism. He showed his offensive improvement throughout the 2016-17 season. That continued in the playoffs in the absence of MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard due to ankle injuries. His shot still needs improvement, but even at 27, Simmons has shown he still has room to grow. Adding him alongside Terrance Ross, Aaron Gordon and number six overall pick Jonathan Isaac, this could be one of the most athletic teams in the NBA. They should thrive in an up tempo style of play.
SHABAZZ MUHAMMED – (24 years old) 6’6″ 223lbs – RESTRICTED
Minnesota may no longer be an option for him since they have acquired Jimmy Butler. Muhammed will turn 25 years old during the season. He’s a bigger guard that looks to slash and attack the basket, but he also has shooting touch. Last season he shot 53% on 2’s and 34% on 3’s, on seven shot attempts per game. He could carve out a niche for himself as the sixth man in central Florida.
BEN MCLEMORE – (24 years old) 6’5″ 195lbs – UNRESTRICTED
“Experts” say he underachieved in Sacramento, but how much of that is on him when he played for the most dysfunctional franchise in the Association? There’s a reason they’ve been in the lottery over the past decade. Also look at how they fumbled the Boogie Cousins situation and their coaches.
McLemore has huge potential. He shot 38% for 3’s and 46% from 2’s on seven shot attempts, while playing only nineteen minutes per game in 2016-2017.
If you haven’t noticed a trend in my wish list, it’s young, long, athletic guards that can play two positions.
Free Agency tips off at 12:01 Saturday, July 1st. General Manager John Hammond and his staff should be on the phone with the agents of the guys I’ve listed. Adding one of these guys to what is already in the cupboard could propel the Magic to a place they haven’t been in five seasons.