Unicaja Malaga had no problem crushing my Fran Vazquez dreams of him wearing a Magic jersey this season. Well thanks in part to Barcelona, Gustavo 'Goose' Ayon's stay in Orlando may be extremely abrupt. According to several basketball sources in Spain, including a Barcelona insider, and Encestando, Gustavo Ayon's ACB League rights have been transferred over to Barcelona who acquired them from Ayon's last Spain franchise of Baloncesto Fuenlabrada. The assumption by these 'sources' is that Ayon will be 'cut' from this Magic squad and he'll be playing in Barcelona in November. Just like with Fran, it was well known that both Real Madrid and Barcelona for a year now have been seeking the services of Gustavo Ayon. Goose's efficient NBA debut season with the Hornets, combined with his non-guaranteed Magic contract weren't going to slow down the two European basketball powers from trying to bring in the very athletic and talented big man.
Along with cap space, Ayon was the main prize of the Ryan Anderson trade with New Orleans just a few months ago. Look, we know the Orlando Magic currently have 19 player contracts as they prepare for their Sunday preseason debut in Mexico City. Jacque Vaughn even announced yesterday that Ayon will be starting against the New Orleans Hornets. Whether Vaughn is just doing Gustavo a favor and/or Ayon is working really harder than the other centers in practice is up for debate. 4 guys won't be playing for this Orlando franchise once we start playing 'real' games in November. DeQuan Jones and Armon Johnson immediately come to mind as 'cut victims'. Then the picture gets a little cloudy. Christian Eyenga and Josh McRoberts are my picks for Hennigan to kick to the curb. Then there's the chance of guys like Hedo, Glen, even Redick being traded. A plethora of possibilities that needs the most level-headed of individuals to manage.
The initial logical first question for everyone should be 'why would Barcelona waste the time and money to get Gustavo's rights if they don't plan on him playing in Spain now?' That's the main reason why Magic fans should be on alert. Rob doesn't really gain much if he gets rid of Ayon. He's cheap at just over a million dollars. He hustles. His skillset has translated well to the U.S. game so far. There's a good chance Goose would beat out Vucevic and O'Quinn to become the Magic's starting center. According to John Hollinger, Ayon was projected to be the only Orlando player who will have an above-average Player Efficiency Rating.
Here's where my sole opinion comes into play. I only see a few reasons why Rob Hennigan would just cut Gustavo Ayon, freeing him to play for Barcelona:
- Rob wants to keep clearing cap space, no matter how little extra it'd be.
- There are no other alternatives to reach the 15-man roster maximum.
- Ayon doesn't want to play for a building Magic team, and would prefer the always Euroleague and ACB competitive Barcelona.
- Gustavo is too good and ruins Orlando's always hidden, yet always discussed about (by the media and fans) 'tanking plan'.
Well hell, if Ayon is so great, why not just trade him to another NBA squad that's competing and needs the extra big man support? This is a very perplexing development and something that I'm sure we'll get clarification on sooner rather than later I'd imagine. November is over 3 weeks out. So now there's an even greater incentive in watching Ayon and the Magic Sunday at 2:30 p.m. EST. On a side note, I feel bad for Sprint. I know Ayon just upgraded his phone/plan with them and hangs around the SODO area a lot, getting familiar with his new surroundings. The economical part of my brain is cringing right now. Here's to hoping this is just Barcelona getting the jump on Real Madrid, and that the threat of Ayon leaving Orlando won't be valid until next year.