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.
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%
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.
Boom: Paul Millsap met with Orlando Magic in Atlanta at 12:01 last night, high interest between both. Will decide between Magic and Hawks.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 1, 2015
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.
Paul Millsap staying with Hawks on three-year deal for $58 million, per source. Player option for third year. — David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 1, 2015
Considering Millsap’s coming off $9M/yr, $19M/yr for 3 years is quality work & good compromise between agent and team. Strong work by both.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 1, 2015
Paul Millsap salary breakdown: 2015-16: $18.8 million 2016-17: $19.646 million 2017-18: $20.492 million (player option) — Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) July 1, 2015
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?
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.
— Janis Timma (@JTii6) June 30, 2015
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.
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.
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.
I’m told Mario Hezonja and Barcelona have reached a NBA buyout agreement worth $1.4 million. Orlando bound.
— David Pick (@IAmDPick) June 29, 2015
Magic No. 5 overall draft pick Mario Hezonja arrives in Orlando on Wednesday.
— David Pick (@IAmDPick) June 29, 2015
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:
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?
Arn Tellem, reps Mario Hezonja, is in Barcelona to negotiate a reduced NBA out clause – valued at €2 million.
— David Pick (@IAmDPick) June 17, 2015
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).
Barcelona, I’m told, reduced the NBA escape clause of Mario Hezonja to €1.5 million. Club wants his Euro rights. — David Pick (@IAmDPick) June 27, 2015
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:
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.
Yahoo! Sports‘ Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Orlando Magic have declined the 2015-2016 season $4.5 million team option on Ben Gordon. The 6’3″ guard is now an unrestricted free agent, and will most likely be wearing a different franchise’s jersey next season.
The $4.5 million being saved by the Magic will go towards free agency, which begins in July.
Gordon was viewed as ‘toxic’ when he signed for Orlando last summer. His exit from Charlotte was a disaster, and many with an outside opinion scratched their heads in regards to Orlando acquiring what everyone assumed was a troublemaker. That wasn’t at all the case. Gordon proved to be a professional on and off the court, at all times.
The 32-year-old will never be known as a defender, but Ben provided some outstanding offensive minutes off the bench in spurts. Especially early in the ’14-’15 season. Ben was like an energy drink, pouring in points on occasion when the team needed it. It just wasn’t enough to take time from others that were contributing more overall.
Sure there were times when you just shook your head at some of Ben’s shot attempts. Those same crazy shot attempts occasionally dropped though, and were the reason why Orlando had some nifty comebacks this past campaign.
In 56 games off the Magic bench, Ben averaged 6.2 ppg on 43.7 FG% and 36.1 3PT% at around 14 minutes per contest. That’s more than respectable coming from a guy that many people thought was finished in the NBA.
Ben revived his career. His departure from Orlando doesn’t indicate otherwise. The UCONN product has an intriguing decision ahead of him: Find another NBA team that can use his scoring capabilities, or possibly seek a larger monetary offer and play overseas. I think Gordon plays in the Association next season. Heck, maybe even for a playoff team.
Tobias Harris, who will be a restricted free agent July 1st, posted a touching farewell to Ben on Instagram. We wish Ben good luck moving forward. It’s evident Orlando wanted to give Ben’s minutes to the younger guards on the roster.
The Orlando Magic have given out jersey numbers to their 2015 Draft selections. Fifth pick Mario Hezonja will wear jersey #23 (Euro Jordan/LeBron!!!), while 51st choice Tyler Harvey will wear #1. You can purchase a Hezonja jersey right now here. Free shipping too.
— Orlando Magic Dish (@Magic_PRDish) June 26, 2015
Jason Richardson and Johnny Taylor are the only other Magic men to have played a regular season contest for Orlando with the #23. As for Harvey’s #1, well, that list is longer. Anfernee Hardaway, Kiwane Garris, Tracy McGrady, Doug Christie, Trevor Ariza, Maurice Evans, Rafer Alston, Gilbert Arenas, Von Wafer, and Doron Lamb. That’s a fun range from phenomenal to awful.
Barring a trade, or some awful situation in which Hezonja doesn’t play a regular season game with the Magic, Hezonja will be the 3rd Croatian to play for the Orlando franchise. Gordan Giricek and Mario Kasun are the other two.
It’s not known when Orlando’s newest selections will have their introductory press conference at Amway Center. July 1st is an estimate at this instant.
The Magic still need to negotiate Hezonja’s buyout with FC Barcelona. Orlando can contribute a maximum of $625,000. Depending on who you talk to, Mario’s buyout is currently over $2 million. However, there seems to be an understanding that the actual buyout will be less than that. Maybe $1 million. Mario will have to pay the buyout difference if it exceeds the $625k total.
The Orlando Magic have officially named Adrian Griffin, Monte Mathis, Mario Elie, and Conner Henry as assistant coaches. Griffin is the lead assistant. Along with those gentlemen, Scott Skiles has retained Laron Profit and Jay Hernandez as assistant coaches/player development. The Magic coaching staff is considered complete at this instance. Perfect timing with Summer League beginning in 1 week. As is usually the case, no contract details for any of the coaches have been released.
Griffin has spent the last five seasons (2010-2015) as an assistant coach with Chicago. During the summer of 2014, he worked with the USA Basketball Men’s National Team that captured the gold medal at the FIBA World Cup. Prior to joining the Bulls, he served as assistant coach/player development for two seasons (2008-2010) with Milwaukee under Skiles.
Monte Mathis has spent the previous five seasons (2010-2015) as an assistant coach with Dallas and the last four seasons as the Mavericks’ defensive coordinator, after spending one season as player development coach. He’s gotten some fantastic experience under Rick Carlisle. As defensive coordinator, Mathis’ responsibilities included preparing defensive game plans and coordinating scouting reports on upcoming opponents. Prior to that, Mathis served as head video coordinator/scout with Dallas (2006-2010). He also had served as Dallas’ summer league head coach since 2009.