The Orlando Magic lost to an Atlanta Hawks squad that rested a lot of players on Sunday, falling 105-98 at Amway Center. With Nikola Vucevic receiving the night off, Magic coach Frank Vogel pounced on the opportunity to see what a starting lineup that included both Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka together on the court would look like for long stretches of a contest.
Statistically, the results were intriguing. Serge Ibaka had a game-high 25 points to go with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks on 9-of-15 shooting (1-of-3 on 3s) and 6-of-6 at the free throw line in 36 minutes of work. That’s the same amount of time Bismack Biyombo played as Biz had a game-high 19 rebounds and 5 blocks to go with 7 points, 1 assists, and 1 steal. That bad for Biz was the 2-of-7 shooting, but also the concerning 3-of-10 free throw shooting.
The Magic lost this contest because they gave up too many Hawks 3-pointers (10-of-27) and Orlando shooting just 12-of-24 at the free throw line. Hawks were held to 40.9 FG% Orlando shot 44.2 FG% and 10-of-25 on 3s.
At times, Atlanta figured out ways to exploit Biyombo by making sure he had to defend a Hawks big that was capable of hitting triples. After Orlando had the blocks advantage for the majority of the night, Atlanta got some key swats in the fourth period and won that statistic 11-10. When Orlando desperately needed any time of bucket, not having Vucevic available was a gaping absence.
Paul Millsap tallied 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists in just 19 minutes of action. Tim Hardaway Jr. also notched 19 points. Thabo Sefolosha added 15 points, and rookie Taurean Prince contributed thirteen. The Magic 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists from Evan Fournier. Elfrid Payton added 14 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds, but also 5 turnovers. D.J. Augustin poured in 12 points off the bench.
Following the Orlando Magic preseason home loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, it was announced that the franchise has waived forward Cliff Alexander, forward Branden Dawson, and guard Kevin Murphy.
The 20-year-old 6’8″ Cliff Alexander played in two preseason games with Orlando. The University of Kansas product made his only field goal attempt and totaled 2 points and 2 rebounds in 10 minutes.
The 23-year-old 6’6″ Branden Dawson also saw action in 2 exhibition contests. The Michigan State Spartan totaled 6 points on 3-of-4 shooting, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal in 13 minutes.
Also seeing two games and 13 total minutes, the 26-year-old 6’5″ Kevin Murphy posted 5 points and 1 rebound on 2-of-2 shooting (1-of-1 on 3s).
All three players were originally signed as free agents on September 8. All three of those men can find employment overseas or in the D-League. However, if I had to pick one, I’d say that Murphy has the best chance of landing on an NBA roster in the regular season. The Tennessee Tech product has the shooting ability and defensive capabilities to be a 14th or 15th man somewhere.
GM Rob Hennigan’s Magic roster has now been narrowed to 16 players. There are thirteen Magic men under contract, and now three training camp invites remaining. The NBA allows a maximum of 15 players per team roster once we get into the regular season.
It’s pretty evident that the 14th spot for the Magic will belong to Damjan Rudez based on how heavily involved the Croatian forward has been in Frank Vogel’s rotations.
The thought going into training camp was that the coaching staff and front office was planning on beginning opening night of the regular season on October 26th with 14 players, leaving a vacant spot open in case injuries or something else happens that could give the Magic flexibility to go after a specific type of player.
But Arinze Onuaku and Nick Johnson also remain. The Magic are already heavy at guard, so I’d be surprised if Johnson – considering his bad jump-shooting as well – claimed that final roster spot. Onuaku is intriguing because he’s a big man the Magic could prefer to give third-string minutes to rather than rookie Stephen Zimmerman. The picture gets clearer a week from now.
The Orlando Magic hosted their annual open practice Saturday, which included a scrimmage, a three-point contest, a game of knockout, and Magic rookie Stephen Zimmerman singing to “Let It Burn” by Usher.
Magic head coach Frank Vogel got things started by thanking the fans for showing up, and then proceeded in asking the fans if they were “tired of missing the playoffs.” After a loud cheer by the crowd, Vogel followed it up with “that ends this year.” Before the Magic can start thinking about the playoffs, they have to focus on the last 11 days before they tip off the season against the Miami Heat.
After Vogel addressed the fans, the team went on to take warm-up shots on both sides of the court, then the team was split up into two squads for the scrimmage. The scrimmage consisted of two 6-minute halves with a timeout after the three-minute mark.
The scrimmage was short for the Magic, but Serge Ibaka stood out in the first half with a couple of really nice moves in the post. Ibaka was teamed up with Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic. The other team consistent of D.J. Augustin, Mario Hezonja, Bizmack Biyombo, Jeff Green and Damjan Rudez.
The Ibaka-led Blue team won the first half of the scrimmage, 14-9.
In the second half of the scrimmage, Cliff Alexander and Mario Hezonja stood out. Alexander had two really nice moves in the post, while Hezonja caught an alley-oop from Nick Johnson and had a couple of other highlight plays in the process.
After the scrimmage, Vogel decided to have some fun and set up a three-point competition in front of the fans. The most exciting three-point contest was the first one between CJ Wilcox and Augustin. Wilcox knocked down 18 shots in a one-minute span, while Augustin fell just short with 17.
Hezonja, Green and Johnson also participated with Hezonja finishing with 15, Green with 8 and Johnson with 13.
Following the three-point contest, the Magic had a full-team knockout game which was the most exciting part of Saturday’s event. Vogel said after the event that playing knockout is something that he brought over from his days in Indiana and the Magic players seemed to enjoy it.
Vucevic eliminated Fournier during the game, Green eliminated both Ibaka and Vucevic, while Hezonja eliminated Rudez.
The final four of the game were Hezonja, Green, Johnson and Wilcox. After a couple of minutes of all four players going at each other, Hezonja finally eliminated Johnson to cut it down to three participants. After another strong shooting display, Wilcox eliminated Green after his shot hit the side rim and flew into the corner.
It came down to Wilcox and Hezonja and Wilcox took down Hezonja after his shot rattled on the rim for a second and then Wilcox hit his jumper from the top of the key, giving the third-year player the win in both competitions Saturday.
Hezonja after losing in knockout: “Oh, man, I hate losing,” he said with a smile. “I’m so pissed, that’s crazy. That was a great shot by CJ, I don’t even know how to call it. I did the lay-up first and he takes his shot and my ball stays on the rim, it was crazy. It was a good match.”
Vogel on knockout: “It’s just something we did in Indiana that, you know, we had a lot of fun with. It’s fun to see NBA players basically play a kids game .. We’ve had a lot of fun in year’s past. I remember one year, George Hill and Paul George were the final two and it went on for like ten straight minutes. They couldn’t knock each other out. Finally we had to call it a tie, but these guys went on and had a lot of fun.”
Vogel on if winning both competitions is going to earn him more playing time: “No, we know he can shoot,” he said jokingly.
Vogel on Zimmerman singing Usher: “You know, I wasn’t even going to ask him to sing or dance. I wasn’t going to do that. I threatened to do it prior. I didn’t just want to just hit him without letting him know, so I called him out, I said play the music and I was going to tell him to sit down. But he took the microphone and said let me do it, let me go out and sing. So I was very impressed with him
The Orlando Magic sort of pressed the reset button this offseason. After four straight seasons of not making the playoffs, General Manager Rob Hennigan made a major trade that affected the core of the team and also hired a proven coach. Besides the Cleveland Cavaliers, the hierarchy in the Eastern Conference is hard to predict. There are about 12 teams in the East that will be fighting for those other seven playoff seeds, including the Orlando Magic.
The Magic’s offseason started with a major head coaching change. Scott Skiles stepped down from the Magic head-coaching job, citing that he wasn’t the right person to coach this team. After Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers shockingly decided to fire Frank Vogel, the Magic signed him to a four-year/$22 million contract. Vogel made the playoffs every season but one (Paul George missed 76 games in 2014-2015) with the Pacers, reaching the Conference Finals in back-to-back seasons in 2013 and 2014. Vogel proved his amazing defensive coaching ability, as the Pacers were a top-10 defense last season with a lineup that included Monta Ellis, Lavoy Allen, and George Hill.
The dynamic of the Magic roster completely changed on the night of the 2016 NBA Draft. The Magic traded the rights to their #11 overall pick Domantas Sabonis, Victor Oladipo, and Ersan Ilyasova to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Serge Ibaka. The move was truly a puzzling one, as the front office broke up the promising young backcourt of Oladipo, their second overall pick in 2013, and Elfrid Payton.
In return, the Magic received Ibaka, a great two-way player, as he can rebound, defend, and shoot as well as any power forward in the league. If Ibaka was under contract for longer, the move would have made a little more sense, but that is simply not the case. Ibaka will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and with the way players such as Allen Crabbe are getting paid, Ibaka will be looking for a big-time contract. The Magic decided to trade away a pivotal player of their young core, as well as a chance to add another player to that young core, for a player who may only spend one season in Orlando, even though he has said he wants to play in Orlando “forever.”
The Magic will likely enter the season with a starting lineup of Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Serge Ibaka, and Nikola Vucevic. If it’s one thing the Magic should be able to do well, it’s rebound. Vucevic stands at 7’0” with 9.8 rebounds per game in his career, Ibaka is 6’10” with a 7.4 average, and the 6’9” Gordon averaged 6.4 rebounds in his first full NBA season. The Magic also signed 6’9” Bismack Biyombo and his 8.0 rebounds per game this offseason. With the acquisitions of both Biyombo and Jeff Green this offseason, it meant Aaron Gordon will have to adjust to playing the small forward position.
The Magic will have an interesting season. They will roll with a big, athletic, and two-way frontcourt with Ibaka, Biyombo, Vucevic, Gordon and Green all splitting time. The backcourt will consist of Evan Fournier coming off a career-high with 15.4 ppg last season and Elfrid Payton improving his scoring capabilities. The bench of Mario Hezonja, D.J. Augustin, Jodie Meeks, Green, and Biyombo should be serviceable.
The Magic are not at the level of the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors or have the talent level of the New York Knicks or the Chicago Bulls, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be in the thick of things in the East. They should be able to compete with teams like the Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, and Milwaukee Bucks.
Frank Vogel will be one of 10 new coaches this season trying to change the culture of their teams. Vogel is a winning coach and will not accept not making the playoffs. The Magic are headed in the right direction with Vogel, but a season filled with ups-and-downs should be expected. The Magic should be positioned in the playoff race all season, something that hasn’t been said for too long.
Opening night for the Orlando Magic’s 2016-2017 regular season just became more special. The game against the Miami Heat on Wednesday October 26th will be dedicated to those people who lost their lives, and those whose lives have been impacted by the ‘Pulse’ shootings that occurred this summer.
Tributes have been planned to honor the lives of the 49 victims who died less than 2 miles away from Amway Center on June 12th at Pulse nightclub.
A video highlighting the city’s unity will be shown. The team will also hold a moment of silence and honor first responders from the night of the attacks as the “Hometown Heroes.” The Magic are also expected to host survivors, family members, and Pulse employees at the contest.
On October 26 we will dedicate our Opening Night to those who lost their lives and those whose lives have been forever changed from the tragedy at Pulse Night Club. We will also be raising a no. 49 banner during pregame to honor the 49 victims. The number “49” will be filled with each person’s name who lost their life that night.
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The evening will also include the Magic raising a #49 banner during the pregame ceremonies to honor the 49 victims. In remembrance, the number “49” on the banner will be filled with each person’s name who lost their life that night. Count me as a fan of this decision.
The team is not retiring the #49. Remember, #6 is also up in the rafters – which represents ‘the fans’ – but the Magic have never had anyone wear #49 in its franchise history.
If you’re in attendance for the game, I’d highly recommend you not get to your seat(s) late.
In a podcast special, Penny and I select and detail the greatest Orlando Magic playoff series victories in the franchise’s history. This is done in a draft choice format. Remember, it’s entire series. Not single games.
Obviously, there’s a lot of 1995 and 2009 chatting. Plenty of Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howarddominance. However, there also some series discussed that you probably forgot.
As a bonus, this episode concludes with the selection of our ‘favorite’ playoff series losses. Hint: It involves the team’s two greatest SGs in history.
With Hurricane Hermine coming through and potentially dampening the weekend in the southeast, enjoy the episode. Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.
The French national basketball team’s 12-man roster for the 2016 Olympics – that’s taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this August – was revealed this week. One very noticeable name was lacking that from that list…recently re-signed Orlando Magic wing player Evan Fournier.
Evan Fournier was the NBA’s highest-scoring Frenchman in the ’15-’16 campaign at 15.4 points per contest. Not Nicolas Batum (14.9 ppg). Not Tony Parker (11.9 ppg).
Every French media outlet recognizes the 23-year-old Fournier as the future leader of the national team. At 13 years old, he was in a TV commercial with Boris Diaw. Nando de Colo is already taking responsibilities away from the aging Tony Parker. Nic Batum is still in his prime, but it’s Fournier who brings the scoring versatility and the charisma that fans get attracted to.
Fournier played huge roles in France’s bronze medals at the 2014 FIBA World Cup as well as the 2015 EuroBasket tournaments.
Why is Evan Fournier not making the trip to Rio de Janeiro? French folks are still speculating.
The uproar from people in regards to Evan’s exclusion was so loud that the leaders of France basketball had to respond. The explanation coming from coach Vincent Collet and the basketball federation is basically they didn’t want to unbalance the chemistry of a French squad that won their Olympic Qualifying Tournament in the Philippines earlier this July which punched their ticket to Brazil for August’s quest for an Olympic medal.
If the ‘don’t break the continuity’ argument is being made, then why include Rudy Gobert? He was out nursing an ankle injury apparently during that entire OQT. But he wasn’t a free agent like Fournier. 90% of the time you don’t see a high-profile NBA free agent – which is what Evan was – wear their national team’s jersey until that deal is signed and active. Insurance is typically the largest factor.
Evan signed his 5-year, reported $85 million contract on July 7th to remain with the Magic franchise. On the day that Fournier had his press conference, right at the end, Evan in his own words said that he would be playing for France if they qualified for the Olympics. There is zero doubt in his demeanor. He was planning on playing. Which makes his exclusion by the coaching staff and the basketball decision makers all the worse. France would defeat Turkey on July 9th, and then Canada on July 10th to win that OQT.
I understand why the 35-year-old Florent Pietrus is there despite his physical skills diminishing. No offence to the 27-year-old Antoine Diot and the 29-year-old Charles Kahudi, but Fournier deserves one of those 12 roster spots over those guys. Vincent Collet is the coach of Strasbourg in the French league. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that Diot played under Collet from 2013 to 2015.
Because of the controversy, I can’t ignore Collet’s obvious disdain after the 2014 FIBA World Cup concluded for what he referred to as an ‘arrogance’ that Fournier supposedly possessed while on the basketball court. But that’s Evan, supremely confident. Evan is never a liability for his country. He can score from anywhere, and his passion can hardly be matched. That reaction from Collet though has always been in the back of my mind. Maybe I was waiting for a moment like this, where Evan is obviously getting screwed in this situation.
There are Magic fans relieved that Fournier won’t be playing next month. ‘He’ll be more rested for the Magic season’. ‘No need to worry about Zika’. ‘Brazil isn’t safe’. Those statements can’t be ignored, but people saying those things don’t understand the amount of pride most international players have when it comes to national team duty. Plus, teams get sheltered during the Olympics. They’re not nearly as at risk of danger hitting them as the many tourists that will be there. That’s beside the point.
Playing for your national team doesn’t pay the bills. But playing in the NBA is still a job – yes, an extremely well paying job – and many times the fun one experiences from being around fellow national teammates and battling on a court in front of those intense crowd atmospheres while trying to claim hardware for your country is severely lacking when they return to their NBA occupations.
There will be 12 teams competing for gold, silver, and bronze in Rio. Team USA will once again be the overwhelming favorite to take the top prize. In my opinion, France is the only team that can beat them. Maybe Spain. Serbia and Croatia are another tier below them. France would have a much better chance at gold if Fournier was on the squad too. Evan, at a minimum, would be the fourth-best player on that roster. And yet, he doesn’t crack the top-12. That’s wrong.
Mario Hezonja (Croatia) will be the only current Magic player representation at the Olympics. Evan Fournier should certainly be another. Unfortunately, he’s not.
Back from my 2-week vacation, the Orlando Magic have improved vastly in that span of time thanks to a wide variety of moves. GM Rob Hennigan went the aggressive route this 2016 NBA free agency in a strong attempt to get this franchise back in the playoffs. I think his decisions may pay off.
#1: Show Biyombo the Money
That’s a fun personality, man. I don’t know how he’ll contribute on the court – whether as a starter or as a 25+ minute bench player – but that’s a rare character that you’ll find in the NBA.
I knew Bismack Biyombo was going to get paid a lot for the huge playoff run he had with the Toronto Raptors. I just didn’t picture the Magic being the team to do that, especially after shipping out Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and Domantas Sabonis for Serge Ibaka. The Magic went from no big-time shot blockers to potentially having two top-5 rim protectors.
Don’t get hung up on the contract. Four years at $17 million per season is a lot to give to a player that doesn’t have a long track record of consistent play, but Biyombo doesn’t turn 24 years old until late August. Both Ibaka and Biyombo have plenty of similarities: Grew up in the Congo, had difficult paths to the NBA where it took them getting to Spain before they truly landed on front office radars, French speakers, versatile bigs that can swat anything in sight.
I’m excited. Don’t get me wrong though, this doesn’t mean Nikola Vucevic‘s job or future is in danger. On the contrary. Orlando now has 3 awesome bigs.
Rob Hennigan and Frank Vogel sharing some jokes and laughs during their press conferences should have Magic fans confident.
#2: Orlando Bolsters the Bench
Jeff Green, D.J. Augustin, and Jodie Meeks all very easily could improve the squad as a whole.
You can see the ties that some of the players Orlando has brought in have with Hennigan, assistant GM Scott Perry, and Frank Vogel.
I wish Jason Smith, Dewayne Dedmon, Andrew Nicholson, and Brandon Jennings good luck moving forward after they signed free agency deals elsewhere, but I really think the Magic have legitimate depth now at every position.
I’m not the biggest fan of Jeff Green, but as long as he’s not starting, the 29-year-old brings enough two-way play where he can put the ball through the hole. The 1-year, $15 million deal also means that Orlando can send Green away really fast if the forward doesn’t fit in.
The 28-year-old Augustin is listed at 6-foot, and definitely reminds you of Jameer Nelson. Augustin is the fail-safe for if Elfrid and C.J. Watson have injury problems again. I think Augustin and Watson – each capable 3-point shooters – could both see a tiny amount of time at SG in certain scenarios. Augustin’s 4-year deal, earning him just over $7 million per season is the security blanket the NOLA native has been seeking in his NBA career.
Jodie Meeks was acquired from Detroit via trade. Orlando dealt away a 2019 conditional second-round pick to the Pistons in order to acquire the 3-point shooting wing. Yes, injuries saw Meeks only play 3 games all of last season. He’s got 1 year left on his contract, earning Meeks about $6.5 million. Don’t expect Meeks to take minutes away from a guy like Mario Hezonja, but a healthy Meeks can certainly contribute. You can’t ignore the career 37.3 3PT%.
Just like with Green, if it doesn’t work out with Meeks, it’ll be easy to separate. That’s $21.5+ million coming off the books in the summer of 2017 should Orlando choose to hunt down a big time free agent.
It’s cool that Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton actually helped recruit some of these guys. You don’t see pros that young get involved in that free agency process, but it’s evident the franchise envisions those two to be in Magic jerseys for a long time.
#3: Evan Fournier is Sticking Around…and at a Decent Price Tag
To the surprise of no one, the Magic re-signed Evan Fournier as their starting SG. Once the Serge Ibaka-Victor Oladipo trade occurred, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that the Frenchman being retained was a high priority.
The 5-year, $85 million contract is actually a pretty sweet deal for the Magic front office. $17 million per year is a lot of pocket change, but it could’ve been a heftier price tag considering Evan could’ve been looking at around $22 million per season. He wants to be a leader, I think he’s capable of it. Evan’s English is good, but he can yell out in French now too to Vucevic, Biyombo, and Ibaka.
Fournier doesn’t turn 24 years old until the 2016-2017 regular season begins. He shot great percentages last season, but has room to grow at both ends of the floor. There are those debating that Orlando doesn’t have a go-to scoring option. I think Fournier is up to the task to handle much of that offensive load.
#4: Shabazz Napier Got Dumped to Portland
Instead of waiving him and taking a slight cap hit by his guaranteed money, Orlando just went ahead and took cash considerations (doesn’t count towards team salaries) to hand over Napier to the Trail Blazers. The soon-to-be 25-year-old was a huge disappointment when he was needed most – with Elfrid and C.J. both injured – and you can’t blame Orlando for seeking other point guard options (Augustin).
The Elfrid-DJ-CJ trio looks promising in comparison to what we’re historically used to seeing out of an Orlando PG depth chart.
#5: Magic’s Entertainment Complex Finally Begins Demolition Phase
#6: Focusing in on Stephen Zimmerman and Devyn Marble at Summer League
If you followed our MBO Orlando Summer League coverage, you know there were some pleasant surprises wearing Orlando jerseys. Patricio Garino. Treveon Graham. Kevin Murphy. Justin Dentmon. Arinze Onuaku.
ORLANDO WHITE WERE CROWNED CHAMPS!!! Congrats to Erie BayHawks coach Bill Peterson and his staff.
We’ll find out this week if the Magic keep Devyn Marble for the ’16-’17 campaign, or if they’ll waive him for nothing. In 5 Orlando Blue starts earlier this month, Marble averaged 10.6 ppg on 39.6 FG%, but only 23.5 3PT%. If Orlando does retain the wing player, I’d expect a lot of D-League action for him.
The Magic’s #41 pick from the June 2016 NBA Draft had some bright moments. Stephen Zimmerman in 5 starts averaged 9.0 ppg and 5.8 rpg on 41.7 FG%. The 5-of-11 free throw shooting isn’t good, but the Magic did sign the rookie big man. He’s got some solid Magic centers to learn from moving forward.
Orlando’s second-rounder from last year didn’t have a great week. Tyler Harvey in 5 games coming off the bench averaged 7.0 ppg on 28.6 FG% and 25.9 3PT%. I still hope he gets a training camp invite.
#7: The Coaching Staff Got Finalized
The Magic named Chad Forcier, Corliss Williamson, and David Adelman assistant coaches. Jay Hernandez will remain as an assistant coach for player development. Frank Vogel’s coaching staff is completed.
The highly-respected Forcier – he gets a lot of credit for the development of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green – spent the last nine seasons as an assistant coach with San Antonio. He’s got that Spurs championship experience.
A 12-year NBA veteran, Williamson spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach with Sacramento. Prior to joining the Kings, he was head coach at the University of Central Arkansas for three seasons. Nicknamed “Big Nasty,” Williamson earned the NBA Sixth Man Award in 2002, and an NBA World Championship in ’03-’04 as a member of the Pistons. While at the University of Arkansas, he helped guide the Razorbacks to the NCAA Championship in 1994 and earned the Most Outstanding Player award following the 1994 NCAA Tournament. During the following season, Williamson once again led Arkansas to the NCAA National Title game. He was named to the Associated Press All-American Second Team in both 1994 and 1995.
Adelman spent the last five seasons with Minnesota, including the last three as an assistant coach. His NBA career began in 2011 as a player development coach under his father, Rick Adelman.
#8: Over 44.5 Magic Wins for the 2016-2017 Season?
*Shakes Magic 8-Ball*
The Magic currently have 200-to-1 odds of winning the title, and 60-to-1 to claim the Eastern Conference’s best record. If there’s one thing I’m confident about this Magic team though is that they’re going to find a way to make the playoffs. They won 35 wins last season. With the additions they’ve made, I’m optimistic about 45+ victories. The East continues to improve, so Magic fans shouldn’t be anticipating a Top-4 seed, but this Orlando team can certainly compete to get into the home court advantage race.
A few other final notes:
Aaron Gordon has been playing Pro Am ball and hosting dunk contests. He will be putting on that Team USA jersey soon for the Select team. I expect AG to be the Magic’s starting SF come training camp, while still playing plenty of PF. It’ll be intriguing to see how Team USA utilizes him.
Mario Hezonja will be representing Croatia in Rio de Janeiro for August’s Olympics after his NT won its qualifying tournament in Turin, Italy. Don’t look at the small offensive numbers, Mario has been playing well on both ends of the court. He’s put on great muscle too.
Nikola Vucevic is the longest-tenured Magic player. He went from the highest salary back in April, to now the 5th-largest player salary.
Ownership opened its checkbook to make some huge signings. I would only expect a few minor additions/subtractions to be made entering training camp as that Magic roster looks primed for a run to make the postseason.
Apr 2, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard D.J. Augustin (12) talks with referee Lauren Holtkamp (7) in the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Having played for five NBA franchises in the past three seasons, finding a long-term home was the most important part during free agency for point guard D.J. Augustin.
Augustin, 28, who just welcomed his third child, was looking for long-term insurance. When the Orlando Magic gave offered him a reported four-year, $29 million dollar contract, Augustin was quick to jump on the offer.
“It was very important,” Augustin said on the importance of signing a long-term contract. “I have a family, I have three kids now so just being somewhere where is stable, basically a long-term place was very important to me this summer. I’m excited, man.”
One of the areas where the front office wanted to improve this offseason was outside shooting, and Augustin has been one of the best outside shooting back-up point guards in the NBA.
After being in and out the rotation in Oklahoma City, Augustin was then traded to the Denver Nuggets in the deal that sent Randy Foye to OKC. Following the trade, Augustin showed what he was capable of, shooting 41% from behind-the-arc.
“That just didn’t work out,” Augustin said on his situation with Oklahoma City. “Obviously they had Russell [Westbrook] playing the majority of the minutes over there. They drafted a young kid, that situation just didn’t work out. It was just a matter of time with that situation .. But I’ve been doing what I did the last few games in Denver for the last four years. Guys getting injured, stepping up, playing starter minutes, playing whatever type of minutes the coach needs me to do. I’m confident in my game, I know what I can do, and I think most of the NBA knows also.”
Besides his shooting ability, the Magic are looking to solidify their back-up point guard spot, which was a problem for them last season.
The 28-year old point guard knows that he was brought on to be the back-up point guard, but he’s ready to help Elfrid Payton take the next step in his development.
“Elfrid is actually from New Orleans, and so am I, so we’ve already been talking and stuff,” said Augustin on his relationship with Payton. “Just being there, you know, whatever he needs me to do to help him, know things off the court, what not to do, what to do, how to handle certain things, especially on the court. I usually lead by example so in practice and just spending time together off the court. I’m just trying to be the best example I can be for him, and at the same time we’re going to compete in practice and just try and make each other better, make the team better and that’s what point guards do.”
Despite being brought in to help on the offensive end, Augustin knows just how good this team can be on the defensive end of the court.
“I think we have a chance to be a really good defensive team and that’s what wins games, that’s what wins championships,” said Augustin. “ That’s why I know that we have a good chance of being a playoff team this year because of that. Offense usually comes from defense so that’s going to be a big key for us this year, playing great defense.”
With the Orlando Summer League championship on the line and the game tied in overtime, Justin Dentmon dug deep into his bag of tricks and threw up a one-foot step back three-pointer that led the Orlando Magic White team to a 87-84 Championship Friday victory over Stanley Johnson and the Detroit Pistons.
While Dentmon’s shot looked like a trick shot to the majority of the people in the gym, it wasn’t a surprise to any of his teammates.
“Well actually, that’s his go-to shot so none of us were surprised,” said Arinze Onuaku, who had another strong performance Friday. “But I mean, it’s hard for the defense to adjust to that. He’s been shooting that shot all week in practice so we’ve all seen it.”
Coach Bill Peterson went on to joke that he was glad that Dentmon went to his bag of tricks since he was 2-for-9 from three before hitting the championship-clinching shot.
“I just looked at the stat sheet, and I thought, ‘well I’m glad he didn’t shoot it normal, I’m glad he’s trying something different.’”
With Dentmon’s shot sealing the win, the Orlando Magic White finished off an undefeated in, capping it with a Summer League title on Friday.
“It feels good,” said Dentmon, who was one assist shy of a double-double to go along his 16 points Friday. “A championship is still a championship and we beat a really good team in the Pistons. They played us very tough. It came down to the wire and just credit to them, they played an unbelievable game.”
Onuaku said after the game that even though this was a Summer League game, the goal was always to win a championship.
“From day one when we started two-a-days we knew that the goal was to win a championship,” said Onuaku. “We were able to do that.”
The Magic White, with no first or second-round picks on their roster, bought in to what coach Bill Peterson preached to them, and that was to play together.
“It’s a credit to the coach,” said Dentmon. “He brought us together. We had never played with each other in our lives, and for us to come together and bond like that is unbelievable.”
For Coach Peterson, winning the Summer League was a very cool moment for him, especially to do it with a group he grew very fond of.
“It’s really pleasing,” said Peterson after the game. “It has to do a lot with their spirit, their fight and the kinds of individuals we had on our team. I told them all week that I was really proud, even guys that weren’t playing were up off the bench and the bench was engaged and, you know, we’re not just a group that’s been together at all.”
Peterson also mentioned that he couldn’t pick an MVP because a different player stepped up every day for the Magic. On Friday, every Magic starter scored in double-figures, led by Kevin Murphy’s 19 points.
Murphy led the Magic with 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting Friday, and gave them a much-needed lift early in the game, knocking in 12 of his 19 points in the first quarter.
Onuaku capped off a strong week with another double-double, finishing with 14 points and 12 rebounds against Detroit. The 28-year old big man averaged 14.8 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game in 5 games for the Magic.
For Detroit, Stanley Johnson scored 21 points on 8-for-19 shooting, while the Pistons’ first-round draft pick, Henry Ellenson, had a game-high 22 points while hauling in 11 rebounds.