Examining the Magic’s cap situation | Magic Basketball

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Oct 25

Examining the Magic’s cap situation

Source: ShamSports.com

With all kinds of new harsh taxes and roster building limitations based on how a team spends its money, salary cap management is becoming ever more important. This isn’t an issue for the Orlando Magic yet, as they’re largely stocked with young guys still on cheap deals that are preset.

But there are important decisions in the not-so-distant future that will determine where the Magic end up going. Orlando is following the Oklahoma City model for now, but one would hope that the exact model isn’t followed by the time the Magic have four potential stars.

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The most pressing question is that of Hedo Turkoglu. His $12 million contract is partially guaranteed, so if the Magic waive him, they’ll still owe him half of that. The Magic would rather not pay that whole $6 million dollars though, so a buyout is looking like the most likely outcome. This is nearly the same as waiving Turkoglu, but the Magic will pay some amount less than six million dollars to him, depending on how negotiations between Turkoglu and the Magic go.

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Theoretically, the Magic could waive Kyle O’Quinn between now and opening night and not owe him a thing. There’s absolutely no motive for the Magic to do that though, as O’Quinn has looked like a solid player thus far and is on a very affordable deal.

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Question marks in 2014-15 are Jameer Nelson, Jason Maxiell, Ronnie Price, and Doron Lamb. Maxiell’s and Price’s deals are fully un-guaranteed if they are waived before July 10th. Neither of these veterans are part of the Magic’s long-term plans and either being waived wouldn’t be a huge surprise. Nelson is a bit more interesting, because of the possibility of a trade. I doubt he gets waived, (which would still leave the Magic paying him two million dollars) unless he drops off a cliff, because of the market for solid veterans on expiring deals. Lamb is still young, but all evidence points to him not being a legitimate NBA player, so being waived is a serious possibility.

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The team options for Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, and Andrew Nicholson are all almost locks to get picked up. The Magic also face the question here of whether or not they want to sign Vucevic or Harris to an early extension, similar to what Derrick Favors, Larry Sanders, and John Wall got this year, or let them hit restricted free agency. The Magic hold all the cards in restricted free agency, but it could be in their favor to try to lock up one or both of these players at sub-market value contracts a la the Warriors with Stephen Curry or the Nuggets with Ty Lawson. If they wait until restricted free agency, the Orlando brass gets another season to try to approximate the value of these players, but also runs the risk of being forced into too high of a deal by a team with a lot of cap space trying to pry away one of these players.

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Arron Afflalo is looking less and less like a part of the Magic’s long-term plan, and trade speculation is growing. He’s a wing that can shoot 3s, defend, handle the ball, and is on a very affordable deal. Plus, a team that trades for him gets his Bird rights, meaning they can go over the cap to re-sign him, whether that’s when his deal expires or when he exercises his option to go to free agency early. If Orlando doesn’t trade him, he’ll likely opt to hit free agency early to secure a lengthier deal in a place where he can get more playing time.

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Two more early extension candidates come up in 2015-16, but Harkless and Nicholson both seem more likely to go into restricted free agency, unless they make huge jumps. Orlando can gauge their value by what other teams offer them, and decide to match if they like the deal.

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Overall, there’s a a fair amount of flexibility and space for the next two years, but things will get tight after that. Prices for young players rocket up from their cheap first deal, as Oklahoma City harshly learned, and the Magic have four of these situations coming up. There’s Victor Oladipo and this upcoming draft’s first round pick too, likely somebody who could contend for the five year “designated player” deal. How Rob Hennigan handles this sudden increase of salaries in a few years will be critical in deciding the future of the Magic.

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