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On Sunday, Orlando Magic restricted free agent power forward Ryan Anderson verbally agreed to sign a four-year, $36 million offer sheet with the New Orleans Hornets. As a restricted free agent, the Magic had first right of refusal to match the offer and keep Anderson. However, Orlando felt the price tag on Anderson was just too much. But instead of losing Anderson for nothing, general manager Rob Hennigan executed a sign-and-trade with the Hornets, thus acquiring an asset in the form of 27-year old center Gustavo Ayon, who had a productive rookie year with New Orleans last season.
With Anderson gone and Dwight Howard also on his way out, whenever that is, it’s clear that — with the recent drafting of Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn, as well as trading for Ayon — Hennigan is trying to replenish the Magic’s big men coffers with cost-efficient, quality talent.
With the help of Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post, Magic Basketball investigates whether or not Hennigan made the right decision in letting Anderson go.
Fact or Fiction: Hennigan made the right decision in not matching the Hornets’ offer sheet.
Evan Dunlap, Orlando Pinstriped Post: Fiction. Paying above the mid-level for non-stars has historically been a trap bad GMs have fallen into, but Anderson’s going to be worth what New Orleans pays him. Even if one accepts that playing alongside Dwight Howard made him more effective than he would have been otherwise — an easy premise to accept — his three-point stroke and offensive rebounding skill isn’t going to stay behind in Orlando.
Sean Highkin, Magic Basketball: Fiction. Here’s the thing: I’d understand not wanting to pony up $9 million per year for Anderson if Hennigan was truly trying to start with a clean slate. The problem is, he already re-upped Jameer Nelson. Not wanting to pay Anderson is fine in and of itself, but in concert with the team’s other offseason moves, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Noam Schiller, Magic Basketball: Fact. Anderson is a fantastic player, but he makes much more sense as the third-best player on a team with a defensive big than the best player on a team going nowhere. With too many useless veteran space gobblers to deal with, the Magic couldn’t afford splashing out on a luxury such as Ryan Anderson.
Fact or Fiction: Acquiring Ayon was the best possible result.
Dunlap: Fact. I suppose. If you’re dead set on not matching Anderson, and have no leverage with New Orleans because the Hornets know you won’t match if Anderson signs the offer sheet, then getting a productive big on a cheap contract is probably the best you can hope for. Ayon can play.
Highkin: Fiction. I’m not sure about “the best possible result,” but Ayon is definitely a good acquisition for the Magic. He slipped under the radar for a lot of people playing a back-up role on a crappy Hornets team, but he posted pretty solid numbers per 36 minutes. If the Magic weren’t going to keep Anderson, getting back a productive player who saves a significant amount of money is nothing to be mad at.
Schiller: Fact. Ayon definitely isn’t the best player the Magic could have acquired, but he’s the best value. He plays hard, is mobile, passes the ball extremely well for a big, and doesn’t step out of his range offensively. Furthermore, he only makes $3 million over the next two years, before he becomes a restricted free agent.
Fact or Fiction: Anderson is worth $9 million per season.
Dunlap: Fact. But that’s probably the most he should be paid. $10 million per season would have been pushing it.
Highkin: Fact. That’s a perfectly reasonable price for a 24-year-old with his combination of size, three-point shooting ability, and rebounding.
Schiller: Fact. With the way this league is heading, a floor-spacing big man is a key ingredient to breaking down defenses. Anderson is the best of that bunch, and he throws in good rebounding and very low turnover numbers. His dependence on others scares me, but for Ersan Ilyasova money, he’s a steal.