Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog

Oct 24

Victor Oladipo out indefinitely due to facial fracture

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 4.33.30 PM

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo will be out indefinitely after suffering a facial fracture in practice Thursday, general manager Rob Hennigan announced today.

Oladipo, who was evaluated Thursday afternoon, will undergo a corrective surgical procedure on Saturday. He was injured after taking an inadvertent elbow during a practice drill.

Oladipo (6’4”, 210, 5/4/92) has not played during the preseason due to a sprained MCL in his left knee. Last season (2013-14), he played in 80 games (44 starts) during his rookie campaign with Orlando, averaging 13.8 ppg., 4.1 rpg., 4.1 apg. and a team-high 1.61 spg. in 31.1 mpg. He was tied for 15th in the NBA in steals. Oladipo also ranked among all NBA rookies in scoring (2nd), rebounding (T-8th), assists (3rd), FG percentage (.419, 8th), three-point FG percentage (.327, T-7th), FT percentage (.780, 6th), steals (2nd) and minutes played (3rd).

Originally selected in the first round (second overall) of the 2014 NBA Draft by Orlando, Oladipo was named to the 2013-14 NBA All-Rookie First Team. He was also named the NBA’s Rookie of the Month twice (December 2013, February 2014).

Oct 22

Grades: Houston Rockets 90, Orlando Magic 89

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Houston Rockets 90 Final
Recap | Box Score
89 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
6-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 BLK | 6 REB | 12 PTS | 0

The newly-minted $53 million man had himself a near-flawless game against the Rockets. It helped that Houston didn’t play Dwight Howard, opting to rest him on the second night of a road back-to-back. Still, Vucevic had some impressive sequences in the first half — most notably, his one-handed putback dunk early in the first quarter. Who knew Vucevic could do that?

Maurice Harkless
4-8 FG | 2-2 3P | 1 STL | 3 REB | 11 PTS | -1

Getting the nod at shooting guard in the starting lineup for a second time in preseason, Harkless played well. He was out of control on drives to the basket a few times and got stonewalled at the rim as a result, but at least he was aggressive. The better news for Magic fans was his two made 3-pointers (one which was off the dribble, which is rare for Harkless).

Ben Gordon
5-6 FG | 1-2 3P | 0 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | +15

He’s not the 20-point scorer he used to be during his prime, but it’s becoming more and more obvious with each passing game (preseason disclaimer applies, of course) that Gordon has something left in the tank. Proof? He had his patented floater working to perfection (he made three of them) against Houston. That’s when you know he has it going offensively.

Andrew Nicholson
4-10 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +8

With 35.7 seconds left and the Magic trailing 90-89, Nicholson found himself with the ball in his hands. Unfortunately for Nicholson, he made a poor decision and threw up a one-handed hook shot from the right elbow that missed badly. Given that he was well-defended by Donatas Motiejunas, Nicholson would have been better served passing the ball — there was plenty of time left on the shot clock.

Houston Rockets

For much of the night, Orlando was in firm control. In fact, the Magic had their largest lead of the night (86-73) with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter. But the Rockets answered by going on a 17-3 run — thanks to Isaiah Canaan and Nick Johnson, who combined to score 16 of those 17 points — to finish the game and steal a victory.

Oct 22

Preview: Houston Rockets at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Houston Rockets at Orlando Magic
  • Date: October 22, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Comcast SportsNet Houston
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Rockets: 54-28
  • Magic: 23-59

Probable starters

Rockets:

  • Patrick Beverley
  • James Harden
  • Kostas Papanikolaou
  • Terrence Jones
  • Tarik Black

Magic:

  • Luke Ridnour
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Tobias Harris
  • Kyle O’Quinn
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Rockets:

  • Pace: 96.3 (5th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 111.0 (4th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.3 (13th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 93.6 (15th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.7 (29th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.4 (17th of 30)

Read about the Rockets

Red94

Oct 22

The ramifications of Nikola Vucevic’s extension

NBA: Charlotte Bobcats at Orlando Magic

Photo by David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

According to the Orlando Sentinel’s Josh Robbins, the Orlando Magic and Nikola Vucevic have agreed to a four-year, $53 million extension.

The timing of the extension doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The Magic had until October 31 to reach an agreement with Vucevic. If not, he would’ve been a restricted free agent in the offseason, which carries its own set of risks for the Magic. But now the 7-foot center will be under contract through to 2018-19 season, as each of his four years are fully guaranteed.

While $13.25 million per year for Vucevic currently is a slight overpay under the current cap, he benefits from playing at a position of need. Vucevic has averaged double-figure rebounds over his last two seasons with the Magic, and he is one of five players currently in the NBA that has accomplished that feat (Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Joakim Noah, and Zach Randolph being the others). Although there are some clear factors that are holding Vucevic back from being a star for now (like his defense), there are very few players who can score and rebound like he can.

To add to that, the Magic have enough room to make the finances work. They only have $36.7 million committed to their roster next season and $22.3 million the year after. The highest paid player on the roster currently, Channing Frye, will be a free agent in the summer of 2018. More importantly, though, they have their young core of Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, and Aaron Gordon locked up on rookie contracts for the next few years.

Oladipo will be able to sign an extension in the summer of 2017, and Payton and Gordon will follow suit a year later. Assuming they all re-sign, Vucevic’s contract will expire as soon as theirs kicks in. That gives the Magic flexibility. They are currently in the midst of rebuilding following Dwight Howard’s departure and this gives them the opportunity to re-evaluate their roster before they extend their up-and-coming core.

By the summer of 2018, the Magic should be heading in a clear direction. The moves they make from that point on will be what decides their future. If Oladipo, Payton, and Gordon all develop into the players they are expected to be and Vucevic winds up being the final complementary piece to the group, they’ll be able to retain them all. But if that doesn’t end up being the case, they’ll be able to pick and choose who they want to keep around.

The final point to keep in mind is that the cap will rise greatly in the years to come, thanks to the new TV deal. How much it will rise remains to be seen, but the fact is that what $13.25 million gets you now will be very different to what you can get in a couple years time. Vucevic’s contract might not look great now, but it could look like a steal in a few seasons.

The luxury of being in a rebuilding phase is that rosters tend to be made up of expiring contracts and players on rookie deals. That’s exactly what the Magic are currently dealing with. Oladipo, Payton, and Gordon are expected to be the future of the franchise, in which case they’ll be able to extend each of them for the max without making moves to clear cap space, even with Vucevic signing a four-year, $53 million extension.

Vucevic is one of the few centers in the league who can do what he does on a nightly basis. That comes with a big price tag, but it’s also something the Magic can afford.

Oct 21

Nikola Vucevic gets 4-year, $53M extension

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

The Orlando Magic and the representatives for center Nik Vucevic are finalizing a contract extension that will add four years to his current deal and will run through the 2018-19 NBA season, industry sources told the Orlando Sentinel.

The deal will pay Vucevic a total of $53 million over four seasons, and the extension will not include an opt-out clause that would enable Vucevic to become a free agent before the summer of 2019.

Oct 21

Tuesday’s Mini-Magic Word

  • Andrew Nicholson, after spending too much time on the perimeter last season, is getting back to being the low post savant he was in his rookie year.
  • Magic players are eager for the regular season to begin.
  • Bill Simmons of Grantland on the Magic: “I like these dudes. I like watching Harris, Oladipo and Nicholson. Vucevic plays hard. I’m excited to watch Aaron Gordon run around like he just drank a 48-ounce coffee, and I’m excited for his 20 Set-YouTube-Ablaze dunks. Most of all, I’m excited for my 2015 Rookie of the Year pick, Elfrid Payton, who’s going to haunt the Sixers, Hornets and (especially) Kings while making Gordon’s career 287.3 percent more fun. I’m all in on Elfrid. All in. Bought a few of his Panini rookie cards and everything.”
  • One of the most cliche headlines you’ll read this season: “Magic Want to Play at Faster Pace This Season.”
  • After a few years of being away, the “Dante and Galante” show makes its return on Oct. 22.

Oct 21

Fox Sports Florida, Magic announce TV schedule

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Fox Sports Florida press release:

FOX Sports Florida and the Orlando Magic jointly announced today the team’s 2014-15 NBA regular season television broadcast schedule, featuring all 82 games broadcast exclusively on the network.

FOX Sports Florida will start the season on the road as the Magic travel to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans. Coverage will start at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 28 for viewers throughout North / Central Florida. Magic LIVE, FOX Sports Florida’s pre-and postgame show for home and away games, will provide viewers with an in-depth look at the team and storylines surrounding the squad before and after they hit the hardwood versus their opponents. The home opener on Thursday, Oct. 30 vs. the Washington Wizards will feature a special, one-hour edition of the Magic LIVE pregame show originating from Church Street.

Play-by-play announcer David Steele returns, alongside former Magic player Jeff Turner as color analyst, to provide viewers with expert commentary throughout the season. Paul Kennedy and Dante Marchitelli also return as hosts of Magic LIVE, while former Magic Head Coach Brian Hill and former Magic players Nick Anderson and Tony Battie round out the group of on-air analysts during pregame, postgame and halftime.

FOX Sports Florida’s Magic broadcasts this season will feature an exciting new addition for viewers. Kelly Nash will join the broadcast team this season as in-game reporter, as well as host of select “Inside the Magic” episodes. The popular “Inside the Magic” series returns and will feature player profiles and episodes offering behind-the-scenes access to other aspects of the team and its operations — all designed to bring the fans closer to their favorite team. There are six new episodes tentatively scheduled to air throughout the upcoming season.

Oct 20

Player Profile: Dewayne Dedmon

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Frankel’s 2014-15 per 36 projections

PPG RPG APG TS% PER ASPM
9.3 11.8 0.6 .494 10.9 -2.2

The 7-foot Dewayne Dedmon, who went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft, spent his rookie year bouncing between three teams, eventually landing with the Magic at the end of the 2013-14 season.

Dedmon is old for a player entering his second year, turning 25 in August. He spent one season at Antelope Valley College before transferring to USC and playing two years in the Pac-12 for the Trojans. He’s so raw and his age so advanced, at least in comparison to his peers, it’s hard to envision him ever becoming a regular starter.

If he’s going to catch on as a third- or second-string center (there’s no way he’s getting many minutes at power forward behind the newly-signed Channing Frye), it has to be on the defensive side of the ball. He’s doesn’t have a consistent midrange jump shot and his post presence is non-existent.

It’s an incredibly small sample size of games to judge, but he had a tendency to drift and ball-watch defensively in his 16 appearances with Orlando last season. Dedmon got tied up on high screens, even when it was a smaller guard that was setting the pick. In the contemporary NBA, the inability of your bigs to get around screens or cut off the ballhandler (some bigs will actually bump into them — anything to knock them off their rhythm coming around the corner) represents a huge negative when you have guys like Kevin Love setting that screen, or slipping it altogether for a dash at the rim or a step-back jumper.

Dedmon struggled with very basic pick-and-roll coverages near the 3-point arc, so it’s something he’ll have to work on if he wants to take advantage of his athleticism and foot speed. He isn’t just repeatedly getting entangled in a screen, though. Watching film on him, you see he’s routinely caught out-of-position, where he’s either scrambling to get to his man, or he’s come over to help too hard, leaving his man open for an easy bucket.

He’s also got to tone down his tendency to jump at the first ball-fake. Al Jefferson — one of the best post players in the game, mind you — repeatedly abused Dedmon on the low block during their April 4 meeting last season.

Offensively, Dedmon has decent footwork on pull-up jumpers, but that’s not his game. He’s a slasher disguised as center, able to flash to the rim for alley-oops or backdoor cuts — like a longer, less-schooled Maurice Harkless.

Dedmon is long and spry, but his physical gifts haven’t been refined for the NBA yet. He only started playing organized basketball five-and-a-half years before entering the league, so the growing pains are to be expected.

Still, his footwork as the roll man on high screens is pretty decent. Opponents have to basically foul him before he can get off the floor. Once he catches that pocket pass and sets his feet anywhere near the lane, it’s just one long step for him and usually a dunk.

My guess, if he makes the regular season roster, is a spot as the 14th man behind the much-more polished games of Nikola Vucevic and the energetic Kyle O’Quinn.

Oct 17

Player Profile: Kyle O’Quinn

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Frankel’s 2014-15 per 36 projections

PPG RPG APG TS% PER ASPM
13.6 11.1 2.5 .529 17.0 -2.6

Kyle O’Quinn was a terrific surprise for Magic fans last season, breaking out of his shell with an excellent sophomore campaign. I covered his development fairly extensively towards the end of last season, but to recap: O’Quinn took huge strides as the 2013-14 season progressed, providing a big spark of energy for the Magic when he took to the floor while having more faith in his own abilities.

O’Quinn was quietly one of the best in the league at protecting the basket. He also displayed a handy array of features on the offensive end, including an ability to throw terrific outlet passes and make excellent reads from the high post. O’Quinn went on to start in the Magic’s last 18 games of the season and with his increased role came increased production, as there was a noticeable rise in his numbers across the board. He clearly gained the trust of coach Jacque Vaughn, who chose to slot him at the power forward position alongside Nikola Vucevic in the starting lineup.

Despite the versatility he displayed in playing both frontcourt positions, it was still at center where O’Quinn was most productive, with Orlando having a positive net rating with him at center (+1.1) compared to a negative net rating (-5.3) with him at power forward, per 82games.com. This seems to suggest that for this season, O’Quinn may be most suited to an identical role that he had in this past one — backing up Vucevic at center and bringing high levels of energy off the bench, while still being getting minutes at power forward in spurts.

Ideally for the Magic, O’Quinn should also continue to be an above-average jump shooter from midrange — while he struggled at the top of the key last season, shooting 32 percent, he was terrific from the left elbow (50 percent) and right baseline (55 percent). He also finished well at the rim, shooting 66 percent. Despite the small sample size, these are impressive shooting numbers and if O’Quinn can continue to improve his midrange jumper in particular, it will be huge for his long-term growth.

O’Quinn’s rim protection will also be pivotal. Last season, of those who faced over 4.0 field goal attempts at the rim per game and played at least 50 games, O’Quinn held his opponents to the 9th-lowest percentage at the rim (46.2 percent), per SportVU. His tendency to rotate from the weak-side and hustle to help out teammates was superb, as he was an obvious defensive presence with his big frame and athletic ability. As his awareness continues to increase defensively, his impact on that end of the floor will too.

If the Magic fan base sees anything close to the development they saw last season from O’Quinn carry over to the 2014-15 season, it will give them a whole lot to be excited about.

Oct 17

The cloudy futures of Vucevic and Harris

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Photo by Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA’s new 9-year, $24 billion TV deal, set to kick in for the 2016-17 season, is going to change the landscape of the league in the coming years. The current deal, signed in 2007, raked in $930 million annually for the NBA from ESPN and Turner Sports. With the new deal, that number is set to increase to nearly $2.7 billion per year.

Because the salary cap is directly correlated to BRI (basketball related income), it will greatly increase under the new deal. Naturally, contracts will spike as a result, and players are well aware of that.

It’s the reason LeBron James only signed a two-year deal (the second year is a player option) with the Cleveland Cavaliers this offseason. It gives him an out if everything goes pear-shaped in Cleveland, sure, but seeing as he’s said time and again that he won’t be leaving in the summer of 2016, his contract gives him an opportunity to sign a new max deal once the lucrative TV deal kicks in. And based on how much that jump is expected to be, it could bump the maximum contract in the league by $9 million per year. LeBron could, therefore, be looking at a $31.1 million starting salary that could increase by $2.3 million every year, giving him the opportunity to sign a max contract of four years, $138 million with the Cavaliers, per Business Insider.

Some believe the cap will skyrocket right off the bat, while others remain cautious. According to Deadspin, the NBA will engage in negotiations with the NBPA in the hope that both sides can come to an agreement of slowly increasing the cap rather than taking a $20-or-so million increase right from the get-go. A quantum leap in cap room would give, essentially, every team in the NBA a clean slate. For all their blunders, it would give the Brooklyn Nets an opportunity to lure high-profile free agents and turn their fortunes on their head. That doesn’t seem to make sense.

Naturally, not everyone will be in agreement with that, which is why we could be gearing towards another lockout.

What that means for the immediate future, though, is that a lot is still up in the air for teams and players alike. In the case of the Orlando Magic, they have three players (Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, and Kyle O’Quinn) whose contracts will expire following the 2015-16 season. Technically speaking, Ben Gordon’s contract also expires in 2015-16 but given that the second year of his contract is fully unguaranteed, the expectation is that the Magic will waive him after this season. Out of the three, Vucevic and Harris are set to make the most, and thanks to the new TV deal, the Magic have a number of ways to go about retaining them.

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