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Tobias Harris Stays in Orlando with New 4-Year Contract

2015 July 3
by Adam Papageorgiou

t12

Multiple sources are reporting that the Orlando Magic and Tobias Harris have come to a new contract agreement. Nothing can officially be signed until July 9th at the earliest due to the free agency moratorium period. Shams Charania of RealGM was the first to report on the new Harris deal, then others such as David Aldridge of TNT quickly confirmed Charania’s report.

 

 

 

A straight-up 4-year deal. $64 million as the reported figure. No options. It’s not quite a ‘maximum’ contract, so all the better for the Magic. Khris Middleton got about $14 million per season to stay with Milwaukee. The Raptors got DeMarre Carroll for about $15 million per season. Tobias at $16 million per season sounds enormous now, but it won’t be in two years with the salary cap rising a lot in that time period. Harris turns 23 years old on July 15th. Nice birthday present.

We knew Tobias was going to get paid a lot of money. It ended up working out for Harris financially that he didn’t agree to a contract extension back in October. With all of the extravagant deals being reported all across the Association, 4 years at $64 million really isn’t bad.

With the free agency pool dwindling following Orlando’s failed attempt at trying to sign Paul Millsap, Harris obviously became the team’s top priority. ‘T12′ now has the largest salary on the roster entering the ’15-’16 campaign.

In 68 games and 63 starts last season, Harris averaged 17.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.8 apg, and 1.0 spg on 46.6 FG% and 36.4 3PT% in 34.8 minutes per contest.

Congrats on the new contract, Tobias. Be happy, young man. Let’s see if Orlando tries to make any other moves via free agency or by trade.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

 

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Breaking Down Orlando’s ‘Blue’ Summer League Squad

2015 July 3
by Adam Papageorgiou

harvhez

The Orlando Magic are gearing up to host their annual Summer League at Amway Center. It all tips off Saturday July 4th and will run for a week. 10 teams will participate, 2 of those squads will actually be the Magic’s. Orlando will have a ‘Blue’ Magic team, and a ‘White’ team. Those two squads won’t face each other unless they were to meet on ‘Championship Friday’.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Orlando’s players met up at Amway Center to practice and familiarize themselves with the coaching staffs and teammates. Friday both Magic teams scrimmaged against each other, so you’ll have some very hungry and determined athletes looking to leave great impressions.

Scott Skiles has been running these practices, but will hand other the reins of the ‘Blue’ team to his Magic coaching staff that includes Adrian Griffin, Monthe Mathis, Mario Elie, Conner Henry, Jay Hernandez, and Laron Profit. Skiles has stated that responsibilities will rotate as the Summer League week progresses. As for the ‘White’ team, Erie BayHawks Head Coach Bill Petersen and his staff will handle that squad.

Some players I’ll be more detailed with than others, especially the unknown prospects.

Let’s look at the 16 players on Orlando’s ‘Blue’ team, by order of jersey number.

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Orlando is Rumored to Have Interest in Quincy Acy

2015 July 2
by Adam Papageorgiou
AP Photo/Jessica Hill

AP Photo/Jessica Hill

The Orlando Magic may be seeking to sign another forward in free agency after striking out on Paul Millsap. Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports and Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders report that the Magic have shown interest in New York Knick Quincy Acy.

 

 

 

Acy played 68 games – starting 22 of them – for the awful Knicks last season. In about 19 minutes per contest, the 24-year-old averaged 5.9 ppg and 4.4 rpg on 45.9 FG% and 30.0 3PT%. The Knicks were tanking very hard in the second half of the season, so they tried to turn Acy into a stretch-4 three-point shooter.

The 6’7″, 233-pounder had his best month in April. In those 8 games he averaged 9.3 ppg and 4.9 rpg on 49.1 FG% and 46.2 3PT% (6-of-13 on triples). So there is some long-distance promise there.

Drafted from Baylor by the Toronto Raptors with the 37th overall pick in the 2012 Draft, Acy is looking to find a franchise where he can stay longer than a year and a half. He’s already played for the Raptors, Kings, and Knicks. Acy is also seeking his first million dollar payday.

No offence to Acy, but he’s not starting material. It’s a large drop-off from Millsap. Acy’s not better than a healthy Aaron Gordon or Kyle O’Quinn. Even if KOQ bolts, Orlando could still utilize Andrew Nicholson and Dewayne Dedmon off the bench. It’s not like Quincy has had monster performances against the Magic either.

Acy is known for his sometimes dirty play, his beard, and for hustle that could be valuable off of Scott Skiles‘ bench. Again, I don’t view Acy as a starter. Quincy is still trying to find his foothold in the league. I’d much rather give Aaron the job.

It is interesting to note though that around January-February of this year, there was mumbling about a possible Maurice Harkless trade to the Knicks. One of the pieces involved in that rumored deal was Quincy Acy. Nothing ever came close to developing though. Maybe Magic GM Rob Hennigan sees something I don’t.

With the free agency pool of players shrinking by the hour, it’s paramount that Orlando re-sign Tobias Harris if they can’t make a big time signing or trade to improve the roster. Acy doesn’t qualify in my eyes as a big upgrade to Orlando’s squad, especially not at a high price tag.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

 

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Victor Oladipo is the Leader of Orlando’s 2015-2016 Playoff Hunt

2015 July 1
by Adam Papageorgiou

vic

This is an MBO series of 2014-2015 Orlando Magic seasonal player recaps and evaluations. We’ll dive into statistics, highlights, and more as we dissect the 15-man roster and figure out who should stay and who should go as we enter a very important offseason in the franchise’s history. We’re at the end of our reviews, finally.

Previously in the series:
#00 Gordon
#2 O’Quinn
#3 Dedmon

#4 Payton
#7 Gordon
#8 Frye

#9 Vucevic
#10 Fournier

#11 Marble
#12 Harris
#13 Ridnour
#21 Harkless
#34 Green
#44 Nicholson

 

We end our series with Victor Oladipo. Why? Because I view him as the Magic’s unofficial team captain until Scott Skiles says otherwise. Vic went through quite the sophomore NBA season and came out of it stronger.

He’s only 23 years old, but ‘Dipo is an example of what you want out of your leader. Victor was able to transform from a rookie PG to a sophomore SG. He trimmed down for Summer League. He improved his shooting percentages…all of them. He had the second-best Magic season behind only Nikola Vucevic. He wasn’t afraid of taking plenty of crunch time shots. He has a feathery personality while not being a knucklehead. Win or lose, he typically takes the last interview in the locker room. Vic is a big-time contributor to the community. He whipped out my favorite Glen Davis quote and actually used it in a serious manner.

Most importantly, ‘Dipo was able to fight off serious injuries acquired in training camp yet still finish off his season strong. Victor suffered the sprained MCL in early October. Worse, was the facial fracture that required surgery and the addition of a mask. Oladipo missed the first 9 games of the regular season. Again, Oladipo showed plenty of resilience even when the team as a whole was in a terrible state.

2014-2015: 72 games, 71 starts, 35.7 mpg, 17.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.7 spg, 43.6 FG%, 33.9 3PT%, 81.9 FT%

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Orlando Opened the Checkbook for Paul Millsap…and it was Wonderful

2015 July 1
by Adam Papageorgiou

mill

It was a fun 9 hours. This is the first July 1st in years that Orlando Magic fans can be excited about. That’s because news broke this morning that the Magic were trying to sign Unrestricted Free Agent Paul Millsap.

 

   

That’s an important tweet. It leaves zero doubt that Millsap was Orlando’s #1  free agent target. Magic GM Rob Hennigan apparently tried to acquire Paul a few years ago

So after the 12:01 a.m. sit-down, the Magic according to multiple sources offered Millsap a 4-year, $80 million contract.

The meeting between Orlando representatives and the 30-year-old went so well that Millsap stopped talking with other teams. A decision was to be made between the Magic and Southeast rival Atlanta.

Pandemonium broke out among local and national media. There was thorough discussion about what a signing of Millsap would mean for the Magic and Tobias Harris. Would ‘T12′ walk? Would Orlando try to sign-and-trade Harris? Would Orlando go over the salary cap and try to keep both Millsap and Tobias? 

Things got trickier as the afternoon hit. The Hawks negotiated a trade agreement with the San Antonio Spurs for Tiago Splitter, and then the Toronto Raptors will apparently be stealing DeMarre Carroll away from the ATL. So did that mean Millsap was jumping ship? Was Orlando really going to pull this off?

There were supposed local sightings of Millsap at Amway Center and Park Avenue in Winter Park where Millsap was allegedly eating lunch at a restaurant. It was nuts. Was he even in town at all? I’m speaking in past tense because Millsap will be returning to Atlanta to the disappointment of Orlando fans.  

 

 

 

Damn.

I’m a huge fan of Millsap. 2-time All-Star. Plays bigger than his 6’8″, 245-pound frame when he’s banging in the paint but is mobile enough to guard SFs. He’s the veteran Orlando needs that can defend his position well while also spread the floor offensively. If Orlando signed Millsap I would have guaranteed that the Magic would make the playoffs in the ’15-’16 campaign. And it’s gone. For now anyway.

Welcome back to NBA relevancy though, Orlando. The Magic are showing the open market that they care about winning again.

 

The Magic still may make a huge free agency splash, but at least they’re trying. No one knows what the back-up plan will be. Then there’s still the topic of Tobias Harris. We’ll see what team he signs an offer sheet with and for how much money. If the Magic don’t believe they can sign a player they deem to be better than T12, then Hennigan and crew need to match and retain Harris. Simple as that.

Tyson Chandler, Amir Johnson, Brandan Wright, Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, and others are all locking up contracts with other suitors it appears. The pool is decreasing fast. Maybe try and go after Draymond Green with the ‘max’ even though he’s a Restricted Free Agent and the Warriors can match?

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

 

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Janis Timma Signs 2-Year Deal with Zenit St. Petersburg

2015 June 30
by Adam Papageorgiou

Timma1

The Orlando Magic traded Luke Ridnour to the Memphis Grizzlies for the rights to Latvian wing player Janis Timma. Since that deal last week, Ridnour has been getting passed around by several NBA franchises. Following the NBA Draft, Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan had already confirmed that Timma would not be participating in July’s Summer League. The team plans to stash the 6’7″ 220-pounder overseas and let the 23-year-old develop some more.

Timma signed a 2-year deal with Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg on Tuesday. It’s not a Euroleague squad, but Timma will play tougher domestic competition than what he was seeing in Latvia. Zenit St. Petersburg will be competing in Eurocup in the 2015-2016 campaign, along with Timma’s former team VEF Riga and others. The 60th selection in the 2013 NBA Draft is upgrading his situation and wants to continue to challenge himself.

Maybe one day we see Timma wear a Magic jersey. Until then, let’s see how much more he can improve.

 

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

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Orlando Announces Rosters of Their Two Summer League Teams

2015 June 30
by Adam Papageorgiou

elfp

The Orlando Magic have released their rosters for the 2015 Southwest Airlines Orlando Pro Summer League, which will take place July 4th through the 10th on the Magic’s Amway Center practice court. Both rosters are subject to change as there may be cuts prior to the beginning of the exhibitions. Players are practicing and familiarizing themselves with each other starting on Wednesday July 1st.

The 25-game, seven-day event will feature two teams – ‘blue’ and ‘white’ – from the Orlando Magic, along with the Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, and Oklahoma City Thunder. The event is closed to the public. Sorry, fans. Maybe next year.

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Orlando Needs a Horace Grant Type PF More Than Tobias Harris

2015 June 29
by Adam Papageorgiou

t12

Free agency begins at 12:01 a.m. EST on Wednesday July 1st. The Orlando Magic are going to be active, one way or another. Tobias Harris and Kyle O’Quinn are restricted free agents and General Manager Rob Hennigan will have to decide whether or not to match any offer sheets that are received by each player.

In 1994, a young Orlando Magic team had just gotten swept out of the playoffs by the Indiana Pacers with a sophomore Shaquille O’Neal and a rookie Anfernee Hardaway destined for greatness. That squad had the youth, but there was a glaring hole at Power Forward. Experience was also sorely lacking with that young bunch.

So Orlando made one of the best free agency signings the NBA had seen up to that time in the summer of 1994. The Magic acquired NBA champion and All-Star Horace Grant from the Chicago Bulls. It was not immediately known at the time, but Orlando would become instant Eastern Conference contenders. Unfortunately for Scott Skiles, he had to be traded to clear cap space for Horace to come to O-Town.

Now I’m not saying this current Orlando squad is one big signing away from reaching an NBA Finals. However, they are potentially one great veteran signing away from getting back into the playoffs. Even if the Magic were to bring back Tobias Harris or Kyle O’Quinn, neither is ideally suited to be a starting PF. O’Quinn is a backup big, while Harris’ game and physique both indicate he’s an SF. Supposedly an underrated SF at that.

Orlando needs a PF. An experienced PF that is far from being washed up. One that plays solid-to-fantastic defense but who can spread the floor by knocking down an occasional jump shot or 3-pointer. Just like Horace did two decades ago, minus the 3-point shooting. Horace was 29 years old, which would be a perfect age for the ’15-’16 Magic that starts a 24-year-old Nikola Vucevic, a 22-year-old Victor Oladipo, and a 20-year-old Elfrid Payton.

Channing Frye hasn’t worked out so far, but he’s on the books for another 3 years. Dewayne Dedmon is still raw and is more backup Center than starting PF. Aaron Gordon is very young and has health concerns. Skiles and his coaching staff can and probably will help all of those guys improve in some manner, but the Magic need a stable presence both on the court and in the locker room. Someone that can make the other younger players around him better. A guy who can mesh with Vooch and cover for the big Montenegrin defensively while taking some offensive pressure off him when opponents double team Nik.

This PF doesn’t need to become an All-Star or put up gigantic numbers. Here’s Horace’s stats in ’94-’95:

74 starts, 36.4 mpg, 12.8 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.2 bpg, 1.0 spg, 56.7 FG%

Efficient, but not large volume scoring. Consistent, but can contribute in a wide variety of ways even if the offense isn’t always clicking. Orlando doesn’t necessarily need a guy who is your top 3 scoring option. It wouldn’t hurt though. It’s not like Shaq and Penny are still here.

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Mario Hezonja’s FC Barcelona Buyout is Officially Completed

2015 June 29
by Adam Papageorgiou

hez

No more Fran Vazquez nightmares, Orlando Magic fans. Mario Hezonja is coming to O-Town!!! The buyout between Mario and FC Barcelona was officially completed on Monday.

Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan had some happy words to profess in a team statement:

The release agreement between Mario Hezonja and FC Barcelona has been finalized and we look forward to Mario’s arrival in Orlando in the coming days. We would like to thank Mario, Arn Tellem and FC Barcelona for their cooperation and diligence.

As per Orlando’s team policy, the terms of the buyout were not released. I reported on Sunday that Mario’s agent Arn Tellem appeared to have negotiated the 2 million Euro buyout down to 1.5 million Euros (About $1.7 million). Well, Hezonja’s buyout may have been lowered further. Down to $1.4 million.

 

 


The buyout may been lowered to $1.4 million due in large part because FC Barcelona will be maintaining Hezonja’s European rights. That means if Mario were to fail in the NBA and return to Europe to play club basketball, FC Barcelona determines whether they want to keep him or maybe sell him off to another franchise.

Hopefully Hezonja has a long and glorious NBA career with the Magic and the above items I just mentioned don’t matter. The Magic covered $625,000 of the buyout as allowed by the CBA (without it hurting Orlando’s salary cap), which means that if the $1.4 million figure is accurate, Mario owes FC Barcelona $775,000. Considering Hezonja’s NBA salary, it’ll be worth it in the long run.

It’s not known yet when Hezonja and #51 pick Tyler Harvey will be presented by the team, but the best guess at this time is Wednesday July 1st. Summer League begins Saturday July 4th, and there’s a good chance that Mario will play a game or two in the exhibition competition. I’d like to think Super Mario will be flying into OIA like this:

 

flyingmario

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

 

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Hezonja’s NBA Passion Can’t Be Questioned With Buyout Talks

2015 June 28
by Adam Papageorgiou

hezdunk

The Orlando Magic will be introducing Mario Hezonja to the franchise’s fan base in the Amway Center press conference room, and it’s going to happen some time this week. It’s just not known at the moment when exactly. That’s due in part to a buyout that needs to be negotiated and finalized between Hezonja and FC Barcelona. According to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, that could occur as early as Monday. The Croatian is more than excited to be joining the Orlando Magic and wants to fly across the Atlantic as soon as possible.

So what’s the situation with this buyout?

 

   

The buyout was never a hidden thing. Once Hezonja declared for the NBA Draft, it was common knowledge that it would take 2 million Euros (About $2.2 million) for Mario to be let out of his FC Barcelona contract. Orlando can contribute $625,000 of the team’s own money – which they are doing – and it won’t affect the Magic’s salary cap. The Magic could contribute more than the $625,000, but Josh Robbins points out there are consequences with that.  

An NBA team may pay more than $625,000, but any overage would come out of a player’s after-tax salary and would be charged to the team’s salary figure.

 

So that’s not happening. The good news is that the buyout has been negotiated down from 2 million Euros to 1.5 million Euros (About $1.7 million). 

 

Do the math: $1.7 million minus $625,000 = $1,075,000

So despite agent Arn Tellem’s efforts, Mario himself is going to have to pay the difference left over from what the Magic contribute to the buyout. Hezonja is PAYING around $1 million to come over and play in the NBA. That’s not something to take lightly, and Mario’s passion for wanting to play in the NBA and for the Magic should not be questioned.

The size of the buyout alone lets you know how much FC Barcelona valued and cherished the Croatian’s services. They wanted him to remain one of their players for years to come. It also confirms that the Magic wanted Hezonja badly on their roster if they’re willing to fork over $625k.

It’s a good thing Mario got selected at #5 by the Magic and not out of the top ten. Assuming Mario will get paid 120% of the rookie salary scale as allowed by the CBA – and what the Magic have done with recent Draft picks – Hezonja will be making a pretty sum of money over the life of his rookie contract. Here are my calculations:

salary mario

So as you can see, Mario will be making about $3.74 million in his ’15-’16 campaign. Before taxes of course. The one million dollars he’ll have to pay to FC Barcelona may sting, but Hezonja will still be getting compensated very nicely. Don’t expect Mario to be officially signed until after the Magic have figured out their free agency plan. Free agency begins July 1st but no one can be signed for a week after that (July 8th). Orlando last year signed Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon before Summer League on July 2nd.

Hezonja has been focusing on making the jump to the NBA since he left Croatian team KK Zagreb and joined FC Barcelona’s organization in 2012. Funny enough, the offseason he showed up in Spain was the same one that saw Fran Vazquez exit FC Barcelona for a team closer to home…Unicaja Malaga.

I bring Fran up because it was a decade ago when Orlando made the mistake of selecting Vazquez 11th overall in the 2005 Draft. Fran obviously has never played for Orlando…and never will. Staying home in Spain and having a high profile European playing career was satisfactory enough in his eyes. Mario wants way more than that. Any comparisons between Vazquez and Hezonja need to stop. They’ve played for FC Barcelona. That’s the only common bond they have.

When I say FC Barcelona, people tend to first think about the soccer team. However, their basketball team is one of the most famous outside of the NBA. The ACB is the best domestic league outside of the NBA. FC Barcelona has won dozens of trophies since being created in 1926. Hezonja will be the first to admit his appreciation for all of the growing up and development that occurred over the past 3 years in Barcelona. Mario has learned a lot playing with and against some legendary European players.

For all the great times though, it was very evident that FC Barcelona’s front office and coaching staff were trying their best to lower Mario’s Draft stock. From cutting his minutes once it was known that Mario desired to enter into the 2015 NBA Draft, to not-so-subtlety benching him outright. It was the measures of a European team desperately not wanting to lose a great talent they spent 3 years developing. That type of ‘holding back’ only made Mario’s desire to leave for the NBA even stronger. Barcelona’s loss is now the gain of Rob Hennigan and Scott Skiles.

Hezonja wants to have a long and glorious career in the NBA…and it can happen with a Magic organization looking to turn the corner. Hezonja has the athleticism, the skills, the confidence, and the drive to succeed. Super Mario is coming, Orlando. Get ready.

marhej

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

 

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