On July 24th from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland, Orlando Magic rookies Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon will be part of the very first MAGIC FIT Draft Combine to promote health and wellness among the youth of Central Florida. Also joining the rookies will be Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw as well as Magic trainers. This special NBA/WNBA FIT program is the franchise’s first that they’re hosting, as about 200 youth from local community centers (Jackson, Callahan, Rosemont, and Smith) will be attending.
The mission statement of the NBA/WNBA FIT program is pretty straightforward:
NBA/WNBA FIT is the league’s comprehensive health and wellness program that encourages physical activity and healthy living for children and families through programs, events, and products.The NBA/WNBA FIT nationwide network includes more than 1,200 organizations committed to bringing NBA/WNBA FIT programs and events to more than 2.5 million children, adults, and families. Network members include YMCAs, the National Recreation & Park Association, Police Athletic Leagues, Boys & Girls Clubs, Jewish Community Centers and community organizations globally.
Team-up with the NBA Family to BE ACTIVE, EAT HEALTHY and PLAY TOGETHER!
On Thursday, the 200 children will be broken up into 6 rotating stations for a variety of physical fitness challenges and basketball drills led by the players and training staff. The youth will also learn about different foods and making good food choices.
“The Magic are excited to get this program started for the youth in our community,” said Magic CEO Alex Martins. “Physical fitness and obesity are a large problem among today’s youth. We hope MAGIC FIT will make staying active and eating right a common practice among our children, while continuing to give the youth of our community the opportunity to participate in the game of basketball. Together we can use the game of basketball to point our youth towards a healthier future.”
Orlando Magic big man Andrew Nicholson will indeed play for the Canadian senior national basketball team this summer. Even though Canada didn’t qualify for the 2014 FIBA World Cup which begins August 30th in Spain, Canada Head Coach Jay Triano still wants to go on an 11-game, 20-day European road trip to prepare for the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship which will also help determine who qualifies for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The precise schedule hasn’t been released just yet, but Canada will play in the countries of Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, and Spain from July 24th through August 12th. The eleven teams they will face are: World Cup host Spain, Slovenia, Ukraine, Croatia (twice), Serbia, Turkey, and Angola, as well as teams that didn’t qualify for the World Cup, Georgia, Italy, and Bosnia & Herzegovina. That’s a solid schedule filled with plenty of quality big men for Nicholson to face. Canada’s first game will be on July 24th against Slovenia.
Below is the internationally inexperienced roster that will depart Canada for Europe:
Andrew debuted his 3-point shot at the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship last August in Venezuela. There’s a reason why Nicholson carried over that 3-point shot to Magic training camp, it was beyond accurate. Had Canada stayed a bit more healthy and dealt with the wear-and-tear of playing back-to-back-to-back contests, they would be playing in the World Cup. In 8 games in Venezuela, Andrew averaged 15.0 ppg and 3.4 rpg at 52.9 FG%, 45.5 3PT% (10-for-22) and 94.7 FT% in 20.3 minutes per contest. If Andrew can find that type of top notch form again, he has high hopes of getting back into Jacque Vaughn‘s rotation.
Nicholson and his teammates will actually get to know what a ‘hostile’ international environment looks like in a handful of those upcoming European exhibitions they’ll be playing. Venezuela didn’t exactly fill up the stands last summer. All of this benefits the 24-year-old and his road to recovering from a bad sophomore NBA season. Nicholson started every game last August for Coach Triano and I expect that to be the case again with Kelly Olynyk sliding in to replace Tristan Thompson to play next to Nicholson in the frontcourt. Robert Sacre will be a backup upgrade as he’s replacing Joel Anthony.
The Orlando Magic’s 4th overall Draft selection Aaron Gordon reminded us that he is in fact 18 years old. The Arizona Wildcats product was born after Orlando’s first Finals run, so any critiques of the 6′ 9″ forward do need to be kept in perspective. The 220-pounder was chosen first and foremost to eventually become a first-team all-NBA defender, and in that regard Gordon did well guarding SGs, SFs, PFs, and even centers. The offense will come, and so will his physical maturity. Aaron played in all 5 Orlando Summer League contests. His averages at 26.4 minutes per game were 7.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and 1.2 apg on 35.0 FG%, 0-for-10 3-point shooting, and 47.8 FT%. Plenty of room for offensive improvement.
Let’s take a look at Aaron’s 2014 Summer League.
July 5th – 83-77 win over the Philadelphia 76ers
7 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block on 3-of-11 shooting in 25 minutes.
That block is just a hint at what type of athletic feats Magic fans will see out of Aaron this season. It’s also quite fitting that Gordon’s first basket of Summer League came in the form of a smooth dunk as a result of a transition break and find by Victor Oladipo. Get used to it. Aaron is going to make guys like Nerlens Noel appear slow. Gordon started at SF and proved to be communicating very well with Romero Osby who was playing PF. Aaron shot a lot of airballs and off-balanced clankers throughout the week, but that didn’t prevent Gordon from getting to the rim as he displays at the 21-second mark. He blows past K.J. McDaniels with his swift dribbling and had enough momentum to flip up a finger roll as three Sixers converged on him.
Being able to dribble penetrate without defenders fearing his jump shot will be difficult, but Aaron’s athleticism will prove invaluable to open up even the slightest of spaces for teammates to shoot jumpers. It’s just up to Gordon to find those open men just like he did with the dish to Victor for the 3-pointer. At the 39-second mark, we see Hollis Thompson giving Aaron the entire left side of the court to drive and finish confidently past Noel. The last clip is Gordon displaying his tenacity as he misses his first shot in the paint, but fights off Philly’s frontcourt to nab the rebound and finish before any Sixer has time to recover and challenge the shot. Aaron is mature beyond his years.
Below you’ll find more of Aaron Gordon’s Summer League week.
Former Orlando Magic player John Amaechi is on a mission to help grow the game of basketball in Great Britain. Basketball isn’t the most popular of games over there, but the 6′ 10″ big man wants to utilize his 5 seasons of NBA experience to influence and motivate young players to strive for basketball greatness and to develop them to be able to compete on a global level. The folks over at Hoopsfix have put together a fantastic clip involving Magic highlights of Amaechi to spread the word about the free camps John is offering to players and teams in England, Scotland, and Wales.
The Twitter hashtag for the pro camps is #PayTheFEE. Amaechi has had quite the inspiring post-NBA career as he’s truly become a British ambassador of sports. Most people recognize John for being the first man to have played in the NBA to openly identify himself as gay. That was back in 2007 after he retired. Magic fans need to also recall that John played two solid seasons in Orlando, and that Amaechi was a very important member of the ’99-’00 Heart ‘N Hustle team. In 162 games with the Magic – starting 89 of them – John averaged 9.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, and 1.0 apg on 42.0 FG% and 70.0 FT% at 21 minutes per contest.
Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that Orlando Magic players Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris will be participating with the Team USA Select squad that will play a large role in prepping Team USA for the FIBA World Cup.
Among USA Basketball Select Team invitees to Las Vegas, sources tell Yahoo. Marcus Smart, Doug McDermott, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 18, 2014
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 18, 2014
This would the be first time both Harris and Oladipo are helping out on national team duty. In Victor’s case, we know that Nigeria has been constantly asking Oladipo to join its national team. This is a massive opportunity for the two 22-year-old men to impress Team USA (and Duke legend) Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. The Select squad will be facing a very talented pool of 19 players such as Kevin Durant, Paul George, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Chandler Parsons, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, and others.
Oladipo and Tobias will most likely not make the final Team USA roster that goes to Spain to begin World Cup action on August 30th, but impressive showings open the door for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro or the 2019 FIBA World Cup (moved from 2018 to begin a new cycle).
Training camp begins on July 27th and is scheduled to run until August 1st in Las Vegas. The Team USA roster – most likely without Victor, Tobias, and the rest of the Select team - will reassemble again in Chicago August 14th and 15th and play an exhibition against Brazil on August 16th at the United Center. Team USA. The team arrives in West Point for a 1-day visit on August 18th, before heading to New York City to play two friendlies against the Dominican Republic on August 20th and Puerto Rico on August 22nd. It is assumed that Coach K will cut down his roster to the FIBA mandatory of 12 players following that final exhibition before flying to Spain.
In a surprising turn of events, Orlando Magic wing player Maurice Harkless may not participate for the Puerto Rican national team in the FIBA World Cup after all. Puerto Rican national team basketball Head Coach Paco Olmos has been unsuccessful in persuading both Harkless and Miami Heat rookie Shabazz Napier to join the team as of now. FIBA’s news outlet reported a week ago that Harkless had still not committed, which now has Spanish news outlets doubting if Maurice will wear Puerto Rican colors.
Puerto Rico’s preliminary roster for the August 1st through 7th Centrobasket tourney in Mexico has been released. Harkless and Napier are not on there. Neither are country legends Peter John Ramos, Larry Ayuso, former Magic man Carlos Arroyo, and Daniel Santiago. Although, it’s assumed that Arroyo – who is on the World Cup roster and is practicing with the team - and the 38-year-old Santiago will be on the team that begins World Cup play August 30th in Spain. Jose Barea and Renaldo Balkman are familiar names in the preliminary roster. Former UCF Knights guard Isaac Sosa is also on the roster. It is not uncommon for top Puerto Rican players to avoid Centrobasket but still play in the immediate major tournament that follows it, so there’s still time for the 21-year-old Harkless.
It was known back in January that Maurice would be playing for Puerto Rico during the NBA offseason after Harkless met with Paco Olmos. Towards the tail end of the ’13-’14 campaign, Maurice wasn’t hiding his excitement for participating in international basketball for the first time in his life. Harkless would be a high minutes contributor on the team and would be given a grand stage to show off improvements in his skill set. Puerto Rico is joined in World Cup Group B by Argentina, Croatia, Greece, the Philippines, and Senegal.
The Puerto Rican squad has already been in training camp for a few days now. The door is still open for Harkless to join the team, but I imagine the basketball federation wants Maurice to be practicing with his teammates as soon as possible since he’d be a newcomer. It’s unknown why there’s such delay and doubt about Maurice’s participation, but the tournament would be a crucial learning and growing experience for Maurice. Magic fans should hope to see their 6′ 7″ athlete competing in Spain.
Orlando Magic rookie forward Aaron Gordon has capitalized on a new advantage to being a California native…getting to attend awards shows. Above you see the 18-year-old taking a picture at The ESPYs with Blake Griffin to remind Magic fans of Gordon’s on-court future potential. Aaron also got to respond to questions asked by former Baylor big man Isaiah Austin.
Aaron Gordon then visited Nickelodeon’s new Kids’ Choice Sports Awards.
— People magazine (@peoplemag) July 17, 2014
This isn’t exactly basketball news, but it’s nice to see a Magic player in the national spotlight.
While a lot of Orlando Summer League attention was on Magic rookies Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, and Devyn Marble, let us not forget a very important sophomore. Victor Oladipo has been handed the keys to the franchise and a lot of weight will be placed on the Indiana Hoosier’s shoulders to drive the team towards contention. Victor played in only three of the five contests during the exhibition, but displayed improvement at both point guard and shooting guard. His averages at 27 minutes per contest were 17.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, and 2.7 apg on 42.5 FG%, 35.7 3PT%, and 75.0 FT%. The best statistic not listed is that Victor didn’t turn the ball over more than 3 times in a game. Huge leaps from last year. On an overall scale, it was a great performance from the 22-year-old. Let’s take a look at Victor’s 2014 Summer League.
July 5th – 83-77 win over the Philadelphia 76ers
18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block on 6-of-11 shooting (2-of-4 on 3s) in 26 minutes.
Victor started at point guard and for the most part stayed at that position the entire contest. Immediately you see Oladipo feed Aaron Gordon a transition cross court pass for a dunk. It’s a beautiful assist that Victor would not have attempted last year. Then you see Victor show his basketball savvy by catching Pierre Jackson’s hand in the cookie jar and forcing the ref to call a shooting foul. Next, Victor drains an open 3-pointer from a spot where he shot 29.73% from last season. Oladipo then steals Casper Ware‘s lunch money and finishes through Ware’s foul for an elegant and-1 lay-up finish. Mr. Feathery concludes an energetic first half with a recovery 3-point rejection from behind on Ware.
Victor begins his 2nd half with a right side drive and floater that Jameer Nelson would’ve been proud of. Victor then chooses to pull-up out of a screen and drains long 2-pointer at a spot where he shot 31.34% last season. Oladipo wasn’t shy to work on his weak points since April. Next, Victor gets an easy assist to Kim English and then follows up with a swift 2-hand pass to a cutting Dewayne Dedmon for a clean look at the rim. Oladipo selects again to pull up out of a screen for foot-on-the-line 2-pointer at a spot where he shot 38.46% in the ’13-’14 campaign. Vic finishes his 18-point performance by drilling a contested right corner 3-pointer from a Seth Curry feed.
A fantastic showing for Oladipo and a sign that his competitive spirit is a strong as ever. Victor in the postgame interview would share that he lost 20 pounds, dropping from 230 to 210 lbs though it’s tough to tell. Rob Hennigan must be thrilled that his young leader has adopted the “process” term.
Below you’ll find more of Victor Oladipo’s Summer League week.
It’s been rumored for weeks that the Orlando Magic were seeking a veteran point guard to round out the roster, they may have found one in Luke Ridnour. The Orlando Sentinel’s Josh Robbins is reporting that the Magic are expected to sign the 33-year-old and are finalizing a deal.
The Orlando Magic indeed are finalizing a deal with PG Luke Ridnour. — Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) July 16, 2014
TNT’s David Aldridge believes Ridnour will be signed for a 2-year, $5.5 million contract. The second season is non-guaranteed. If Luke only makes $2.75 million per season, Orlando would still be about $2 million shy of the salary floor.
Luke Ridnour’s 2-year deal with Orlando is for $5.5M, per source. Non-guaranteed 2nd year. @JoshuaBRobbins first reported Magic agreement.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 17, 2014
The University of Oregon product made $4.32 million last season. The 6′ 2″ combo guard spent his time in ’13-’14 with the Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte. Ridnour was traded by the Bucks along with Gary Neal on February 20th to Charlotte in exchange for Jeff Adrien and Ramon Sessions. Combining his stints with both teams last season, Luke played in 61 games – started 14 of them – and averaged 5.0 ppg, 2.9 apg, and 1.6 rpg on 38.5 FG% and 34.3 3PT% at 18.7 minutes per contest.
In 4 playoff games against the Miami Heat as a Charlotte player, Luke averaged 2.5 ppg, 3.0 apg, and 1.0 rpg on 30.8 FG% and 33.3 3PT% on just 9 minutes per contest. Ridnour has played in 783 career regular season games, starting in 493 of them. His averages are 9.6 ppg, 4.6 apg, 1.0 spg, and 2.3 rpg on 43.1 FG% and 35.0 3PT%.
Orlando Magic rookie forward Aaron Gordon, following his Summer League performance, recently returned to the Bay Area to participate in the San Francisco Pro Am. The 18-year-old San Jose, California native put on quite a spectacle of phenomenal dribbling and passing skills that I’m sure will have Magic fans craving to see at some point in the near future. Credit to ballislife for the clip.
I could swear I was watching the offspring of Jason Williams going ‘White Chocolate’ mode on us or Rafer Alston pulling off a ‘Skip To My Lou’. Very impressive for a 6′ 9″ guy to pull off. You can see why Aaron and the Magic coaching staff believes Gordon can be a small forward. He has the handles for it, that’s for certain. All about having that confidence in himself during NBA contests. There are some dunks in there that he makes look way too easy. Get excited for some youth infusion, Orlando.
Apparently in the game where that highlight clip comes from, Aaron notched a triple-double. Exhibition or not, that’s great.
Aaron Gordon’s line tonight at Kezar Pavilion for the Pro-Am League: 28 pts, 18 reb, 11 assists. Triple Double. highlights at 11pm on KPIX
— Dennis O’Donnell (@KPIXSPORTS) July 16, 2014
More good news for Aaron Gordon, he is a member of the NIKE family now.
Jabari Parker went with Jordan Brand — and Aaron Gordon and Julius Randle headed the Nike route. — Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 16, 2014
A new Orlando Magic ‘Christmas Day’ jersey (see bottom left of image above) from Adidas has been revealed for the upcoming ’14-’15 season, courtesy of Uni Watch. No it doesn’t mean the Magic will play on Christmas, though it’s not out of the question considering the franchise has some very promising young players such as Victor Oladipo. Adidas made a Christmas uniform for all 30 teams. Even if a franchise doesn’t play on Christmas, its fans can still purchase the uniform.
I love the Magic’s secondary logo, I just don’t believe it should be used as a primary logo on a jersey. The tail on the ball just makes things very asymmetrical. The other big difference in the blue jersey is that the template shows the player’s FIRST name will be on the back of the jersey UNDER the number and not above it. I would imagine that would benefit people who like Tobias Harris or Elfrid Payton since they have less ordinary first names. Also, Evan Fournier, Ben Gordon, Aaron Gordon, Kyle O’Quinn, and other Magic men have common enough first names that plenty of Magic fans with those similar first names could be interested in buying a jersey. Some foreign soccer and basketball organizations have names placed under the numbers, another feature that NBA fans are not accustomed to.
Keep in mind, these Christmas uniforms are NOT the rumored ‘Pride’ jerseys that Adidas will also be revealing for the Magic and six other NBA franchises. It is assumed Orlando’s jersey will have sleeves and be in gray. I hope these will be the first sleeved jerseys with pinstripes in the league since the Magic are the only franchise that utilize pinstripes in their daily uniforms. I’ll reserve judgement until the jersey is revealed. Some sleeved uniforms look much better than others.
A day after being acquired in a trade with the Chicago Bulls, the Orlando Magic have officially waived Anthony Randolph. Today (July 15th) is Anthony’s birthday. Randolph was set to earn $1,825,359 in the 2014-2015 campaign. That amount is fully guaranteed, counts against this season’s salary cap, and will be fully paid out by the Magic as long as another team doesn’t claim Anthony off waivers. The Louisiana State University product who was born in Germany has now technically been on 6 NBA teams in 6 seasons and will now be seeking employment elsewhere.
In his career, Randolph has played in 252 regular season games having started 43 of them and has averaged 7.1 ppg and 4.3 rpg on 45.3 FG% and 24.1 3PT%. The 6′ 10″ forward has also played in 5 career playoff games with the Denver Nuggets back in 2013, tallying 5.2 ppg on 81.8 FG%. It’s evident that Magic GM Rob Hennigan didn’t want Randolph taking away minutes from his other players.