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MBO Roundtable: Post-Summer League Edition

2015 July 14

The Orlando Summer League has concluded. The next time we see Magic players at Amway Center and competing will be at training camp in the Fall. Let’s break down what we saw in person and on NBA TV in early July. Welcome to another edition of MBO roundtable. I’m Adam Papageorgiou and joining me for this tripod chat are Brian Serra and Spenser Strode.

 

How freakin’ great did Aaron Gordon look? With Tobias Harris being retained, can you see Aaron starting come October?

Brian Serra:

Aaron Gordon looked pretty freakin’ great. Confidently great. Summer League MVP type of great. But let’s remember, Summer League. With that being said, the things he was doing are the exact things he needed to do to take the “leap”. While he probably just needs to take a “hop” after missing so much of his rookie season, the shot-making is what makes next year so intriguing. I would like to see Gordon and Harris starting together. Coach Skiles has an entire offseason and training camp to implement a defensive scheme where the 3/4 can switch every time and the same with the 1/2 and Elfrid/Oladipo. It’s time for the team to use their versatility to their advantage and take a unique approach to attacking the league. Position-less basketball is a popular catchphrase for a reason. When you have two 6’9″ freakish athletes, you need to use them to your advantage. Yes, there will be size disadvantages at times – but in those cases, the same size disadvantages should be advantages on the offensive end. The real question to if this can work lies in the ability of Gordon and Harris to understand and stick to the nuances and responsibilities of covering each other (as well as the entire team obviously).

 

Spenser Strode:

Being that we were simply watching Summer League action, the operative word is ‘LOOK’…and Gordon looked spectacular. Let’s face it, the raw stats mean next to nothing but back-to-back possessions in one game seemed to serve as a microcosm of his off-season efforts. First, Gordon stroked an effortless three (hat tip to hours of working with shooting guru Dave Love), then he leveraged the new-found long-range confidence into executing a pump-fake on the perimeter and making a tremendous dribble-drive and spin-move finish at the rim. If that’s what we consistently have to look forward to this fall–Coach Skiles might be hard-pressed not to slide Tobias up to the 4-spot and start rangy Gordon at small-forward.

 

Adam Papageorgiou:

When that other Summer League in Vegas concludes, Aaron Gordon will have still had the best summer out of all of the hundreds of players that have competed in July. I’m pleasantly stunned at what #00 did in a few games. He turns 20 when training camp begins, and I think he should be the favorite to start. If healthy, Channing Frye, Dewayne Dedmon, Jason Smith, and Andrew Nicholson are not overthrowing this kid. A.G. is the squad’s best defender. He can block shots, rebound, and defend all five positions. Now that Gordon has shown glimpses of an offensive game, it’s a no-brainer for him to start. Aaron can defensively protect both Vucevic and Tobias, and I really think Skiles can turn him into a Shawn Marion-type Phoenix Suns prime forward where you really can’t peg one position on him. As you mentioned, Brian, the switching potential Orlando has needs to be transformed into a strength. Only way I don’t see a healthy Aaron starting is if Hezonja and Harris develop a phenomenal on-court chemistry.

 

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Orlando Announces Harris, Smith, Watson, Hezonja Signings

2015 July 14
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The Orlando Magic on Tuesday officially announced the signings of Tobias Harris and Jason Smith. This goes along with the July 9th signing of C.J. Watson, and the July 10th signing of #5 overall Draft pick Mario Hezonja. The Maurice Harkless trade in exchange for a Portland second-rounder was also announced today.

hennymario

Let’s break down GM Rob Hennigan’s moves.

First, after striking out on Paul Millsap, the Magic were wise enough to retain Tobias’ services in the terms of a 4-year, $64 million contract. The 6’8″ forward turns 23 years old July 15th. Again, not a bad birthday present. As the highest-paid Magic man on the roster, much responsibility has been placed on Harris’ shoulders.

Jason Smith is getting a 1-year deal at $4.5 million. The 29-year-old won’t be a starter, no matter how optimistic he may be, but he does bring nice veteran depth to the young Magic squad. At 7 feet, Smith can block enough shots to be a Center, while being mobile enough and displaying jump shooting abilities to play minutes at PF.

Orlando has a solid backup PG for the first time in years as 31-year-old C.J. Watson comes to O-Town. The 6’2″ Tennessee Volunteer product is signed to 3-year, $15 million contract. The third and final year of that deal is only partially guaranteed. If waived prior to the ’17-’18 season, Watson would only see $1 million of the $5 million for that year.

The ‘Super Mario’ hype is slowly beginning to spread across Central Florida. The 20-year-old Croatian gave folks a taste at Orlando Summer League of what’s to come from the 6’8″ wing player. Don’t be surprised if Head Coach Scott Skiles has the former FC Barcelona product contributing for much of the season off the bench. Hezonja may have spent many years as a professional overseas, but there will still need to be an adjustment period as he acclimates himself with the rigors of the NBA.

 

 

Orlando’s offseason isn’t complete, they’re under the salary cap and currently have 2 open roster spots, but these 4 men will play vital roles in determining whether or not the Magic are a playoff team in ’15-’16.

cjwa

 

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

 

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Maurice Harkless Has Reportedly Been Traded to Portland

2015 July 12

moe

If it’s coming from Yahoo! Sports‘ Adrian Wojnarowski, it’s most definitely true. The Orlando Magic have reportedly traded Maurice Harkless to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for a future second round pick.

Why deal the 6’8″ Small Forward now? For such a low return too when you got have gotten the same return back in January or February? I had high hopes that Harkless would be able to find a new role with the Magic in the ’15-’16 season under Scott Skiles. He’s got the defensive and 3-point shooting abilities to be an effective bench player.

Harkless is only 22 years old. He’s also an expiring contract, set to make about $2.9 million in the ’15-’16 campaign. If it wasn’t going to work out with Skiles, they could deal him during the season and still get a similar return. Harkless was the 15th overall pick in the 2012 Draft, selected by the Sixers who would then deal him to the Magic as part of the elaborate Dwight Howard trade.

This makes me think another move is on the horizon, whether it be through free agency or via a trade. Tobias Harris and Jason Smith have not yet been officially announced as signings by the Magic. Once those two are signed, Orlando would have 13 players under contract and about $4.7 million in salary cap space to fill their two final roster spots.

 

 

Harkless was in Jacque Vaughn‘s doghouse last season, and only played 45 games while averaging 3.5 ppg and 2.4 rpg on 39.9 FG% in those contests. We wish Moe nothing but the best going forward. He’ll definitely have an opportunity to earn minutes considering Portland is low on wing depth. The Blazers are going to look completely different from this past season.

 

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

 

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Orlando ‘Blue’ Completes Summer League By Beating Pacers

2015 July 10
by Adam Papageorgiou
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The Orlando Magic ‘Blue’ squad ended their Summer League on a very high note. Friday saw ‘Blue’ blow the doors off the Amway Center practice gym and crush the Indiana Pacers 98-74. ‘Blue’ led for all 40 minutes, with their highest lead reaching 27 points. The Magic shot 13-of-27 from 3-point range and out-rebounded Indy 47-27.

Joe Young had 28 points for Indiana, but got little help from anyone else on his team. The Magic got balanced productions all around. Nnana Egwu posted an 11-points, 11-rebound double-double. Jordan Sibert had 18 points on 5-of-7 from deep. Tyler Harvey tallied 12 points on 4-of-7 from three-point range. Jabril Trawick added 16 points while Maurice Walker contributed 10 points.

 

Below is the full game recap.

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‘White’ Squad Finishes Runner-Up at Orlando Summer League

2015 July 10
by Adam Papageorgiou
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The Orlando Magic ‘White’ squad ended up finishing in second place at Summer League. It was in a heartbreaking fashion, losing 75-73 in sudden death double overtime to the Memphis Grizzlies in the title game. Russ Smith had the game-winner, just like against Orlando ‘Blue’, to go along with 15 points and 9 assists.

‘White’ only managed to shoot 36.9 FG% in the contest. Keith Benson had 16 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Chris Singleton poured in 16 points and 4 steals off the bench. Keith Appling was the only other Orlando man in double digits with 15 points and 6 assists.

 

Below is the full game recap.

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Orlando ‘White’ Beat Nets; Advance to Championship Game

2015 July 9
by Adam Papageorgiou
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

It doesn’t matter if it’s ‘just’ Summer League, I’m excited to see the Orlando Magic ‘White’ squad make it to the championship game on Friday. It wasn’t pretty, but ‘White’ punched their title contest ticket by taking down the Brooklyn Nets 65-58 on Thursday. Orlando got the job done by holding the Nets to only 30.6 FG%.

Keith Appling came up big and led all scorers with 19 points. Scottie Wilbekin was the only Magic man in double figures with 11 points. Keith Benson notched 9 points and 8 rebounds. Brooklyn was led by Ryan Boatright’s 13 points. Former Magic man Earl Clark was held to a rough 1-of-7 from the field. Nets fell to 0-4.

Orlando ‘White’ not only are 4-0, but they have the #1 seed entering the title game thanks to their 27 points in the standings. That +40 is glorious.

white1

 

 

Below is the full game recap.

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Harvey and Marble Impress in Orlando ‘Blue’ Loss

2015 July 9
by Adam Papageorgiou
AP Photo/John Raoux

AP Photo/John Raoux

The Orlando Magic ‘Blue’ squad may have lost 91-85 to the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, but #51 pick Tyler Harvey, and last year’s #56 pick Devyn Marble both looked outstanding. Harvey had 24 points and 5 assists on 8-of-13 shooting (4-of-7 on 3s). Marble notched 22 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals on 5-of-9 three-point shooting.

Indiana won the fourth period 32-22 to claim the victory behind 28 huge points in 31 minutes from Joe Young. Former Magic man Romero Osby tallied 12 points and 6 rebounds. Orlando shot 48.5 FG%, but conceded 50.0 3PT% (14-of-28) to the Pacers. Indy attempted 19 more free throws than Orlando.

 

Below is the full game recap.

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Hezonja, Gordon, and Payton Done With Summer League Games

2015 July 8
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

According to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, the Orlando Magic are shutting down Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, and Mario Hezonja for the remainder of Summer League. They’ve done enough to impress the Magic coaching staff, and have earned their rest. All three played for the Orlando ‘Blue’ squad that is currently 1-2 and plays the Indiana Pacers Thursday at 1 p.m. and concludes with another contest on Friday.

Probably the MVP of the entire Orlando Summer League, Aaron Gordon stunned everyone in the 3 games he played. His confidence was back. More importantly, the 19-year-old showed vast improvements in his jump shot. Whether it was off the dribble, standard pull-ups off a screen, or even fadeaway jumpers.

agstats

Aaron still currently leads all Summer League participants in both points and rebounds averages. In 32.7 minutes per contest in his 3 games, Aaron posted 21.7 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.7 bpg, and 1.3 spg on 50.0 FG% and 50.0 3PT%. It’s a giant step in a positive direction for #00 who showed he can be more than capable of potentially starting next to Tobias Harris. PF or SF, it doesn’t matter. Aaron proved his worth of last year’s #4 Draft pick.

Mario Hezonja captivated us with a game-winning 3-pointer, outstanding passing vision, and phenomenal dunks. In 2 games off the bench at 24.5 minutes per contest, the #5 Draft pick posted 13.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.0 apg, and 1.0 spg on 37.5 FG% and 28.6 3PT%. Don’t let the percentages deceive you, ‘Super Mario’ will be just fine by the time the regular season comes around. The 20-year-old will participate for his Croatian national team at EuroBasket.

For Elfrid Payton, it was more about seeing an improvement in his mechanics than actual statistics. I fear he may need to trim his hair a little as it’s starting to get in his face. In his 2 starts, Payton in 25.5 minutes per contest averaged 5.5 ppg, 6.5 apg, and 2.0 spg on 30.8 FG% and 25.0 3PT%. The 4.5 turnovers per game were not ideal, but Summer League can be hectic like that when you’re pushing the ball constantly. His percentages don’t indicate it, but Elfrid’s jump shot form has gotten better. It looks more fluid and he has less of a hitch with a stroke. If Payton can knock down an occasional jumper, that’ll open up more looks for his teammates.

 

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

 

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Great Orlando News: The 2015-2016 Salary Cap Will Be $70 Million

2015 July 8
by Adam Papageorgiou

NBA-StarsBroke

The Orlando Magic will be under the salary cap for the 2015-2016 season. Why am I so confident? That’s because the salary cap will be much higher than the projected $67.1 million we were all anticipating. It will in fact be $70 million, according to multiple reports.

 

 

 

 

Don’t worry, Orlando won’t come anywhere near the $84.7 million luxury tax. This is all fantastic news for the Magic as the NBA moratorium period closes at 12:01 a.m. on July 9th, and teams can finally officially sign their player to verbally agreed upon contracts. Barring some bizarre DeAndre Jordan Clippers-Mavericks situation occurring in the City Beautiful – in some order – expect Tobias Harris, C.J. Watson, Mario Hezonja, and Jason Smith to sign their deals soon.

So what does that do to the Magic’s $70 million salary cap situation?

70mil

14 players at around $68.2 million in salary for the ’15-’16 campaign based off of my numbers, assuming they don’t cut Dewayne Dedmon and Devyn Marble before their contracts for the season get guaranteed (or obviously make a trade). That leaves almost $1.8 million to spend, more than enough for a young unsigned free agent.

Why the ‘Player #15′ slot? Well, the maximum amount of players allowed on any NBA roster is fifteen. Tyler Harvey was Orlando’s #51 selection in last month’s NBA Draft. Harvey very well could be Orlando’s 15th contract as he can get a similar non-guaranteed, multi-year contract to what Marble and Dedmon have.

The 15th player could be another Summer League prospect playing well currently: Peyton Siva, Keith Appling, or Scottie Wilbekin. The Magic could go another route, but the bottom line is that there is some wiggle room where there would have been none with a lower salary cap. Thanks, Adam Silver. 

Orlando didn’t make a massive free agency splash, but they’re retaining Tobias Harris at a reasonable price, selected Mario Hezonja who shows fantastic promise and will add to the Magic’s depth, and they signed a solid veteran backup point guard in C.J. Watson at a decent price. If Jason Smith and Tyler Harvey (or another young point guard) play well, that’s a bonus from where I’m sitting.

All of this and Orlando stays under the salary cap. Bravo to Rob Hennigan and crew. Now it’s up to Scott Skiles to coach these guys up and hopefully make a run to the playoffs. 

 

 

Side Note: Following up on an MBO story back in early May, the Orlando Magic were indeed under the salary floor last season…by about $1.9 million. That amount will be divvied up among those 15 players.  

 

That’s about $127,956 per Magic player. Sweet offseason bonus. These funds play no factor in Orlando’s ’15-’16 salary cap. With the salary floor at $63 million, Orlando won’t have to worry about approaching the floor for a second consecutive year.

 

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

 

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Twitter and Facebook!***

Orlando ‘White’ Remains Undefeated With Win Over Charlotte

2015 July 8
by Adam Papageorgiou
AP Photo/John Raoux

AP Photo/John Raoux

The Orlando Magic ‘White’ squad improved to an impressive 3-0 at Summer League after taking down the Charlotte Hornets 81-68 on Wednesday. Keith Benson led Orlando with 16 points while Scottie Wilbekin also poured in 15 points off the bench. Keith Appling, Glen Rice Jr., and Melvin Ejim each added 10 points in what was another impressive group showing. Former Kentucky Wildcat Aaron Harrison led Charlotte with 15 points.

Both teams shot about 40% from the field, but Orlando prevailed thanks to a 40-29 rebounding advantage as well as a 16-10 assists advantage over the Hornets. Wilbekin was a game-best +20 on the parquet floor thanks to sharp 5-of-8 three-point shooting.

 

Below is the full game recap.

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