Tag Archives: Courtney Lee

A 2016 Magic Free Agency Wish List

 
The NBA Free Agency period, also known to some as Christmas in the summer for NBA players and fans, tips-off at 12:01 am on July 1st. The Orlando Magic will have nearly $37 million dollars in cap space to lure key free agents to central Florida to help catapult the franchise back into the playoffs.  

Thanks to the draft night trade of Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and Domantas Sabonis, the 11th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Serge Ibaka, the Magic have filled their biggest glaring need for a strong defensive power forward that can also knock down perimeter jump shots to keep the space open down low for Nik Vucevic. But, that trade along with other roster moves have created other needs that can and should be filled immediately. Here’s my wish list for Orlando. 

Shooting guard Courtney Lee. General manager Rob Hennigan has already extended a qualifying offer to starting shooting guard/small forward Evan Fournier and it’s expected he will sign it to remain in central Florida. But there’s still a need for depth at the position. Even though they just traded for Jodie Meeks from the Detroit Pistons, it’s rumored the team would like to add another shooting guard. A player of Lee’s caliber could definitely help.  

The former first round pick of the Magic in 2008, shot 45.4% from the field and 37.8% on 3-pointers last season for both the Memphis Grizzles and Charlotte Hornets. At 6’5″, the 30 year old is an above average defender and signing him would also steal him from a division rival and 2016 Playoff team. His addiction would bring another steady veteran presence in the locker room with extensive playoff experience. He was a rookie starter on the 2009 team that made the NBA Finals. Lee also still lives in Orlando in the offseason, so maybe he’d like to be around permanently. 

Reports, or rumors, also have mentioned Jamal Crawford of the L.A. Clippers and Eric Gordon of the New Orleans Pelicans as potential targets. Crawford is 36 years old and more likely to stay in L.A. or sign with a proven championship contender. Gordon is only 27 years old, with 8 years of NBA experience. While he would be a good fit, he’s likely to ask for more money than the Magic will be willing to give.

Small forward/power forward Chandler Parsons. Parsons is a local kid having played high school ball at Lake Howell and for Billy Donovan in Gainesville at the University of Florida. Parsons has had a bout with the injury bug since signing his last free agent deal with the Dallas Mavericks in 2014. The 27 year-old has made some rumblings on social media lately that things aren’t so great in “Big D.” Maybe a return home would do wonders for his health and happiness. At 6’10 he shoots 49.2% from 2-point range and 41.4% from 3. Adding his versatility to go along with Fournier, Mario Hezonja and Aaron Gordon would make Orlando one of the most, if not the most versatile team in the league.  

Plus with the news that power forward Andrew Nicholson, the Magic’s current longest tenured player, won’t be receiving a qualifying offer making him a unrestricted free agent, the Magic need to find more depth on the frontline. Signing Parsons will fill that need. 

Shooting guard/point guard Austin Rivers, if you can’t resign Brandon Jennings who was acquired in the Tobias Harris trade or get Lee. Rivers, another local kid from nearby Winter Park High School, improved by leaps and bounds as Chris Paul’s backup with the L.A. Clippers. It was a shock to many he opted out of his contract with the team where he also plays for his father Doc Rivers, but when you look at the potential money that will be thrown around this summer it shouldn’t be that shocking. Orlando should definitely throw him some. Rivers is only 23 years old, and set career marks last season in points per game (8.9), field goal percentage (43.8%) and 3-point percentage (34%) while only playing 21.8 minutes a night. Plus, more importantly, Rivers has significant playoff experience having been in the Conference Semifinals and first round of the Western Conference the last two seasons. Rivers would fit in perfectly with a group of guys under the age of 26 years and ready to blossom.

If the Magic can sign one or two of these guys, it will be Christmas in the Spring of 2017 for central Florida hoop fans, because they’ll receive the gift of playoff basketball for the first time in five years.

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Magic Need to Get Older to Make the Playoffs 

The Magic are in need of a shake up, having lost their last 7 games and 1-9 in the last 10.

The Orlando Magic are 20-24 and in the midst of a 7 game losing streak, having only won 1 game in their last 10. Their once realistic playoff dreams are quickly turning into a nightmare. General manager Rob Hennigan and head coach Scott Skiles need to do something drastic before the February trade deadline in order to stop this downfall and save the season. My solution… trade for a veteran.

It’s difficult to say a NBA team that’s average age is 24.9—5th in the league—should give up some of it’s young talent to get older, but they NEED to. This team’s inexperience has shown by blowing big 4th quarter leads and losing several games by one possession. They’re also 1-6 in overtime games. The losses are of the variety that don’t happen with experienced teams.

While youth and athleticism is a premium in the Association, and growing pains are part of the deal, that doesn’t mean it needs to serve your purpose on the court, but rather in acquiring other better fits. Now is the time to use the pieces they have to turn this once playoff bound team from a couple of weeks ago, that is now lottery bound, back into a playoff contender.

You don’t need to make a splash that’s going to win national headlines, and cause breaking news alerts or break the internet. Making a move for a franchise player is not the move I’m calling for, more like a vet that is playing out the end of a contract on a team that he’s likely not to resign with, or a strong role player with five or more years of experience. Three names come to mind,  and two are former Magic players.

First, power forward Ryan Anderson of the New Orleans Pelicans. He’s averaging 17.4 points per game and grabbing 6.1 rebounds with a PER of 17.6. Anderson was a fan favorite during his time in central Florida and blossomed playing the stretch 4 next to Dwight Howard.

Anderson blossomed in his three season in Orlando. He could be the missing piece for this squad.

Since he left the Magic his game has gone to another level playing next to another talented big man in Anthony Davis. Lately, he’s been showing the ability to also score tough baskets on the block as evident by his career high 36 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists performance Thursday night against the Sacramento Kings with Davis out of the lineup.

He could do the same playing with Nik Vucevic in place of Channing Frye who’s only giving Orlando 5.5 points a game to go along with 3.2 rebounds. Anderson could also anchor the second unit when Coach Skiles mixes in the rotation players.

The second name that comes to mind is Courtney Lee of the Memphis Grizzlies. Lee was a rookie starter on the Magic team that made the 2009 NBA Finals in his only season in Orlando. Lee has gained valuable big game experience in his time in Memphis, Boston and Houston.

 While he averages only 10.2 points a game on 45.3% shooting from the floor and 35.2% from 3-point range, he has made several clutch shots playing off All-Stars Marc Gasol and Zachary Randolph. Lee’s value is greater on the defensive end where the Magic struggle late in games.

The last name is power forward Danilo Gallinari of the Denver Nuggets. The 27-year-old is averaging 19.4 points, 5.7 rebounds per game with a PER of 19.8. While he still has 3 years left on his deal, he like Anderson are versatile stretch 4’s that while compliment Vucevic, the main piece in Orlando.

 

Mixing an older guy with this young talent isn’t a fresh idea to Magic management. In the offseason they tried to remedy this problem when they extended a max offer to the Atlanta Hawks All-Star Paul Milsap—another versatile 4-man, sensing a theme?—during the summer. So I’m not telling them anything new, only now it’s a red alert, or this team will tie the longest playoff drought in franchise history (1989-1992).

Gallinari has the versatility to compliment the Magic’s key player, Nik Vucevic.

Currently the Magic are 12th in the conference and sit 3 games out of the 8th seed in the East playoffs. While 20 wins at this point in the season is an overachievement when you look at the past three seasons. But they’re so close to the playoffs that something has to be done. In my opinion, everyone on the current roster should be on the trading block except Nik Vucevic.