Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 62

Oct 26

Magic exercise contract options on four players


AP Photo/John Raoux

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have exercised their third-year team option on the contracts of forward Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson, while also exercising their fourth-year team option on the contracts of Tobias Harris and Nikola Vučević, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deals are not disclosed. All four players are now under contract through the 2014-15 season.

Harkless (6-9, 220, 5/11/93) played in 76 games (59 starts) during his rookie campaign (2012-13) with Orlando, averaging 8.2 ppg., 4.4 rpg. and 1.16 spg. in 26.0 mpg. He ranked sixth in the NBA in steals-to-turnover ratio (1.28, 88/69) and 40th in steals. Harkless also ranked among all NBA rookies in scoring (11th), rebounding (9th), field goal percentage (8th, .461), steals (2nd) and blocked shots (8th, 0.82 blkpg.). He was acquired by Orlando as part of a four-team, 12-player trade on Aug. 10, 2012, along with Vučević. Harkless was originally selected in the first round (15th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft by Philadelphia.

Harris (6-9, 235, 7/15/92) was acquired by Orlando in a six-player trade with Milwaukee on Feb. 21, 2013. He appeared in 55 games (34 starts) with both the Magic and the Bucks in 2012-13, averaging 11.0 ppg., 5.2 rpg. and 1.3 apg. in 23.6 mpg. In 27 games with Orlando, Harris averaged 17.3 ppg., 8.5 rpg., 2.1 apg. and 1.37 bpg. in 36.1 mpg. On Mar. 29 at Charlotte, he poured in a career-high 30 points, becoming the second-youngest player in Magic history to score 30+ points in a game (20 years, 257 days old). Harris was originally selected in the first round (19th overall) of the 2011 NBA Draft by Charlotte.

Nicholson (6-9, 250, 12/8/89) played in 75 games (28 starts) during his rookie season (2012-13) with Orlando, averaging 7.8 ppg. and 3.4 rpg. in 16.7 mpg., while shooting .527 (256-486) from the field. He ranked among all NBA rookies in scoring (14th), rebounding (16th), field goal percentage (4th) and free throw percentage (5th, .798). Nicholson participated in the 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend, tallying six points and three rebounds in 10 minutes.

Vučević (7-0, 250, 10/24/90) appeared and started in 77 games in 2012-13 for Orlando, averaging 13.1 ppg., a team-high 11.9 rpg., 1.9 apg. and a team-best 1.03 bpg. in 33.2 mpg., while shooting .519 (461-889) from the floor. He ranked second in the NBA in rebounding, third in double-doubles (team-high 46), tied for 21st in field goal percentage and tied for 33rd in blocked shots. Vučević finished fourth in voting for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. On Dec. 31 vs. Miami, he broke the franchise record for most rebounds in a single game, pulling down 29 boards and breaking the mark previously held by Shaquille O’Neal (28, Nov. 20, 1993 @ New Jersey).

Oct 25

Magic waive four players

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have waived center Mickell Gladness, guard Manny Harris, forward Kris Joseph and forward Romero Osby, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today. The roster now stands at 15 players (see below).

Gladness (6-11, 220, 7/26/86) was signed as a free agent on Sep. 27. He played in three preseason games, averaging 1.3 ppg., 3.0 rpg. and 3.00 blkpg. in 12.3 mpg.

Harris (6-5, 185, 9/21/89) appeared in six preseason games, averaging 4.3 ppg. and 1.3 rpg. in 9.0 mpg. He was signed as a free agent on Sep. 27.

Joseph (6-7, 210, 12/17/88) was also signed as a free agent on Sep. 27. He played in five preseason games, averaging 5.6 ppg. and 1.8 rpg. in 11.0 mpg.

Osby (6-8, 230, 5/7/90) was selected by Orlando in the second round (51st overall) of the 2013 NBA Draft. He played in seven preseason games, averaging 5.7 ppg. and 4.0 rpg. in 15.4 mpg.

Oct 25

Grades: New Orleans Pelicans 101, Orlando Magic 82

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AP Photo/John Raoux


New Orleans Pelicans 101 Final
Recap | Box Score
82 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
5-7 FG | 1-3 FT | 1 BLK | 7 REB | 10 PTS | 0

He gobbled up boards, played solid defense, and hit three high-arcing jumpers. One area he’ll need to improve in is screening. He didn’t have the ball in his hands a lot, but he was the focal point of the Magic offense. Almost every possession began with a few different perimeter players coming off Vucevic screens, but those screens didn’t do much to create space.

Victor Oladipo
2-9 FG | 6-6 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | 0

Oladipo struggled with Jrue Holiday’s pressing defense all night long, and his left hand was exposed as being much weaker than his right. He still had great burst getting to the basket, although he wasn’t the most consistent finisher there. He was a bit eager to split the trap on the pick-and-roll, which didn’t allow the play to fully develop and make the screener an option.

Manny Harris
5-11 FG | 1-4 3P | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 12 PTS | -9

Manny Harris did everything he could to try to earn a roster spot in what may be his last chance at impressing the coaches and front office. He showcased a nice burst and individual scoring ability, but wasn’t the most organized when it came to running the team offense. He was solid on defense because of his size, and somehow recorded two blocks.

Romero Osby
2-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | -2

Osby seemed like the leader for Orlando’s 15th roster spot, but he got waived after the game. Against the Pelicans, he was physical underneath, collecting seven boards (including four on the offensive end). He didn’t have the best shooting night, but managed to get more points than shots because of his foul-drawing ability. His position is still a question mark, but that versatility could be a good thing.

New Orleans Pelicans

This game was about as ugly as it gets in preseason, and the Pelicans were the slightly less sloppy of the two teams. They won on the strength of their 3-point shooting (11-for-18), despite their 20 turnovers. Brian Roberts led the way for New Orleans, coming off the bench and scoring a game-high, and efficient, 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

Oct 25

Preview: New Orleans Pelicans at Orlando Magic


  • Teams: New Orleans Pelicans at Orlando Magic
  • Date: October 25, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center


  • Pelicans: 27-55
  • Magic: 20-62

Probable starters


  • Jrue Holiday
  • Eric Gordon
  • Al-Farouq Aminu
  • Anthony Davis
  • Jason Smith


  • Victor Oladipo
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Andrew Nicholson
  • Nikola Vuvevic

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 88.5 (29th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 105.7 (16th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 110.1 (27th of 30)


  • Pace: 92.2 (14th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.6 (27th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 109.1 (24th of 30)

Read about the Pelicans

Bourbon Street Shots

Oct 25

Examining the Magic’s cap situation


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.


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.


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.


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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Oct 24

Meet Victor Oladipo, the post player

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Photos by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images

Victor Oladipo’s best asset might be his versatility. Few guards in the league boast his combination of strength, length, athleticism, intensity and burgeoning overall offensive skill-set. In Oladipo, the Orlando Magic drafted a player certainly capable of defending multiple positions. And this summer, the Magic made clear they thought the rookie could play more than one spot on the other end, too.

Whether or not Oladipo has the makings of a full-time point guard is mostly irrelevant for now. Jacque Vaughn’s team has no playoff ambitions this season, and is content spending another season — and high lottery pick — building from the mess left by Dwight Howard’s departure.

Oladipo projected as a playmaking guard leading up to the draft anyway, too. He’d always spend at least a near lion’s share of time with the ball in his hands — his eventual role was never going to be as a jump-shooting, off-ball screen using marksman.

So it makes sense on several levels for the Magic to experiment with him running the show, but the reality could be that his play as a point guard this season won’t matter. Oladipo’s future wasn’t as a Chris Paul-type floor general in June, and it won’t be after his rookie year, either. Another ballhandler will usually be at his side for his time with the Magic. The positional distinctions might very well prove meaningless in the long-run. Oladipo’s ability to do different things on offense makes that scenario the most likely.

So it’s hardly unexpected that he’ll score and assist in many different capacities. Ball-screens, transition, 3-pointers, catch-and-shoot — Oladipo has the tools to create most every manner of offense for Orlando. And after his best professional performance to date — 22 points (9-for-19 shooting), five rebounds, and six assists against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday — it’s clear he’s comfortable taking an additional route to creating, too.

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Oct 23

How can the Magic improve on offense?

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AP Photo/Eric Gay

When I covered high school sports and had to interview a coach of a young team that just got blown out of the water, there was one phrase that I heard more than any other.

“The guys are learning. They are getting better.”

As obnoxious and coach-speaky as it may seem, there’s a lot we can glean from those stock comments. And actually, Magic fans, coaches, and players ought to adopt some similar thinking this season. Because if you’re any one of these people and you’re gauging success by what you see in the win-loss column, it’s going to be a long season.

Success, in some cases, simply means improvement, and there are a few specific ways that the young talent in Orlando can start improving on the offensive side of the ball in the 2013-14 season.

Use the pick-and-roll to your strengths, not your weaknesses
Jacque Vaughn hasn’t stood the test of time yet, but he’s clearly not the wrong guy for this assignment in Orlando, at least right now. Vaughn appears to possess a keen understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of his roster.

An example of this understanding is found in his use of the pick-and-roll. The eye test suggests that the Magic ran the pick-and-roll last season a bit less than they did during the Dwight Howard era. That’s true to some extent, but a closer look using Synergy gives a far clearer picture.

Last season, 20.9 percent of the Magic’s possessions were in the pick-and-roll, per Synergy Sports. In 2011-12, that figure was 23.1 percent. But that difference largely stems from the fact that they didn’t run it for the ballhandler. Instead, they ran it for the roll man. In 2012-13, Orlando ran the pick-and-roll for the roll man 7.1 percent of the time, per Synergy Sports. That percentage was the same in the 2011-12 season, but less in 2009-10 and 2010-11 (4.5 percent in both of those seasons).

A few things contributed to the steady use of the pick-and-roll to set up the roll man, not the least of which is the fact that players like Andrew Nicholson and Tobias Harris (to name a few) were simply efficient when they were involved in that play type.

To be more specific, Harris shot 45.7 percent from the field last season when he operated as the roll man, per Synergy Sports. That number is higher than his field goal percentages in any other play type, barring transition and offensive rebounding, which are basically percentage boosters for anyone. Nicholson, who is already an efficient shooter from just about everywhere, got 18.9 percent of his offense as the roll man and shot 50 percent from the field.

On the flipside, the Magic have basically one guy (Jameer Nelson) who is an effective scorer as the ballhandler in the pick-and-roll. In 2012-13, Maurice Harkless shot 32.5 percent when he handled the ball, per Synergy Sports. E’Twaun Moore shot 38.5 percent from the field (5-for-15 from deep). And Arron Afflalo was just a touch worse (36.6 percent from the field and 1-for-11 from deep).

A big key for Orlando will be if they can find a secondary ballhandler in the pick-and-roll. My money is on Oladipo, who appears comfortable pulling up from midrange or driving all the way to the basket.

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Oct 22

Tuesday’s Mini-Magic Word

  • According to NBA GMs, Victor Oladipo is the runaway favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk with a prediction: “When this season ends Glen Davis is going to be playing for someone other than Orlando. There are no sure things in the NBA, I could be wrong, but if I were Davis I would keep a “go bag” packed and ready near the front door.”
  • Tyler Lashbrook of Orlando Pinstriped suggests the Orlando Magic should start Andrew Nicholson, not Tobias Harris, at power forward. His two reasons: 1.) it allows head coach Jacque Vaughn to pair Oladipo with Harris with the second unit, and 2.) allows them both the chance to finish games together in crunch time.
  • General managers expect greatness from Oladipo, both now and in the future.
  • Glen Davis, who is currently recovering from a surgically repaired left foot, is trying to get his playing weight under 300 pounds to lessen the stress on his knee, ankle, and feet.

Oct 22

Is it smart to end morning shootarounds?


Photos by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s been more than 40 years since Bill Sharman invented the morning shootaround. Ever since proposing that his 1971 Lakers show up on game days to shoot baskets in a lazy practice the morning of games, it’s become a staple of game day routines around the league. Part of that was the Lakers 69-13 record that year and a still-unbroken 33-game winning streak. Part was the very basic fact that it helped loosen guys up the day of the game and get them focused on basketball.

Even the morning-averse Wilt Chamberlain, who — contrary to popular belief — would always show up, but sometimes just read the paper, understood they helped the team. It’s hard to argue with the results of Sharman’s idea, and the former Boston great had been doing it as early as the 1950s with the Celtics.

Now comes word Magic coach Jacque Vaughn has done away with morning shootarounds in favor of afternoon shootarounds when the team is at home and afternoon walkthroughs in hotel ballrooms when the team is traveling. Vaughn explained the idea to the Orlando Sentinel’s Josh Robbins:

“Have I made a conscious effort to not have some shootarounds? Yes,” Vaughn said. “And will that continue throughout the course of the year? Probably yes. I took a scope of all the things that we did last year — what I liked, what I didn’t like, what I thought was efficient. And that’s what I’m about. I’m about being efficient.

“I don’t have to stroke my own ego and check boxes off [a practice plan]. I just don’t. I don’t have to do what other coaches do. I’m fine with doing what I think is best for my team.”

While some experienced teams ignore morning shootarounds on the second day of a back-to-back, the Magic are about as far from experienced as you can get. With the exception of a few Dwight Howard holdovers, the Magic roster is new and inexperienced. So it’s worth questioning Vaugn’s decision. Here are completely subjective arguments for and against the end of morning shootarounds.

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Oct 21

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated: “A Magic sell-off is likely at some point, with veterans Jameer Nelson (two years, $16.6 million left on his deal, with $2 million guaranteed in final season), Arron Afflalo (three years, $22.5M) and Glen Davis (two years, $13M) taking up too much cap room and playing time to stick around. In the meantime, the Magic will hope for development from No. 2 pick Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless as the post-Dwight Howard rebuilding continues.”
  • The Orlando Magic have eliminated morning shootarounds.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk chimes in on the Magic changing their game day routine: “The idea is to give the players the game plan info closer to the game so they retain it better, and to keep them fresh. Vaughn isn’t the only coach doing it right now, other teams experimented with it, although Vaughn seems to be doing it more regularly.”
  • It remains to be seen if head coach Jacque Vaughn’s decision to move away from morning shootarounds will end up paying dividends for the Magic.
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “In keeping with the premium Orlando places on secrecy, Vaughn wouldn’t commit to naming a starting lineup for opening night against the Indiana Pacers on October 29th. Though fans and media widely suspect that only the power forward position is up for grabs–with Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Maurice Harkless, and Nik Vučević entrenched in their respective positions–Vaughn said that not every position is sewn up.”
  • After setting an NBA record for the fewest free-throw attempts per game last season, Orlando is making a concerted effort to try to get to the charity stripe more this season.
  • Glen Davis is making progress with his foot rehab, though no timetable is set for his return to the Magic’s starting lineup.
  • A look at the changes in Orlando’s uniforms over the years.
  • Watch Victor Oladipo dance.
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