Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Deal or No Deal - Magic Trade Deadline Edition

The NBA trade deadline is February 21st at 3 p.m. EST. That means being fixated on your text alerts and Twitter timelines. Other than Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski tweets from Monday night pictured below, the Magic rumor mill is remaining much quieter than a basketball mind would expect. However, General Manager Rob Hennigan hasn't been shy in admitting that he's taking and making numerous phone calls with front offices all across the league. It's quite evident that the chatter will exponentially grow as Thursday afternoon approaches.

Here's your Orlando salary cap reminder and how it's necessary to keep in mind the circumstances of each contract. Whether it's number of years remaining or what years are guaranteed, partially guaranteed, or not guaranteed at all. Don't forget the $17.8 million trade exception that expires in August of this year. Expectations are that if the Magic do pick up a large (hopefully expiring) contract, that it won't be until the summer. Especially since the Magic have a full 15 players on their roster. 

Below is my viewpoint on which Magic players could, should, shouldn't, and won't be dealt. I'm hopeful Rob and his front office staff share my opinion as I go through my own version of 'Deal or No Deal'. Guys I want gone and guys I want to stay, whether for the long or short-term.

Arron Afflalo: Deal
There's a reason why I involved that Minnesota 'WOJ Bomb' tweet. I feel that Afflalo is the wing player that the T-Wolves can definitely use to make a serious run through the postseason. When 'AA' was initially acquired by Orlando, Magic fans were hoping he could become a go-to 1st or 2nd scoring option for the franchise. It hasn't quite worked out. Yes, Arron is leading the team in scoring. However, Afflalo hasn't been able to convert in crunch time like a first option needs to. Arron needs to protect the ball better instead of bouncing it off his foot. Also, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD KEEP YOUR TOES BEHIND THE 3-POINT LINE!

His subpar dribbling skills prevent Arron from being able to attack efficiently or consistently in a halfcourt set. Arron's transition attacking has been one of the few unquestionably positive services he provides. Afflalo's jump shooting hasn't been nearly as stellar as in Denver, though the 6'5" wing man is beginning to depend on his solid post-ups near the top of the paint. Afflalo's reputation as a 'good' defender has been ripped to shreds and has this Orlando decision crew pondering whether 'AA' is truly worth paying $8 million for another 3 full seasons. 

The 27-year-old is averaging career-highs in scoring (16.6 ppg), rebounding (3.8), assists (3.0), free throw percentage (85.3%), and minutes (36.4). And yet, few can say they've been impressed with Arron's Magic stay so far. When Afflalo was out for that left calf strain, we saw glimpses of E'Twaun Moore being more than capable of filling his SG shoes. Below is something that may interest both Minnesota and Hennigan.

The T-Wolves get their supportive wing while getting rid of Brandon Roy, a failed risk signing. Minnesota has Rubio and Ridnour and that makes Barea dispensable. The Magic want Roy's contract so that it comes off the books in the summer of 2014, where I'm assuming Hennigan will utilize his immense salary cap space to make his free agency push. Barea can easily be flipped to another contending team (don't tell me Dallas wouldn't take him back) or you utilize JJ's Puerto Rican background and build ticket sales. As for Ish, can we honestly envision Smith being in a Magic jersey long-term? Again, this is just a feasible example of getting rid of Afflalo rather than... 

JJ Redick: No Deal
People like mentioning Ryan Anderson's trade departure last year in regards to how Magic fans have treated talented shooters that are also seeking a pay bump. Many believe Redick will want more than the average $8.5 million per season that Ryno is receiving in New Orleans. That's up for debate. What isn't up for debate, is the obvious importance of Redick's presence in the locker room and on the court. 

Glen Davis is out, and that means Redick is hands down the best asset Orlando is willing to deal. Back in December I wrote how adored JJ is in this community. This is the final last few months of the 28-year-old's front-loaded deal that is currently paying him about $6.2 million this season. Folks are also referencing Redick's demands to be traded a few years ago as a reason for dealing JJ for fear he'll bail from O-Town this summer. That was under completely different coaching and front office regimes, and JJ wasn't playing nearly as often and as well as he has this season.

Can JJ walk away this offseason? Of course. But I believe there is a gentleman's agreement between Rob and JJ. Point blank, if Redick isn't gone at the trade deadline, then we're re-signing JJ long-term. That's what I foresee occurring. Then again, my Nostradamus side could get beaten over the head with a shovel and we see Redick going to a place like Milwaukee in exchange for a 1st round pick, an inexpensive youngster, and/or an expiring guy. Does JJ want to be a Buck long-term? That's a massive issue that only Milwaukee's brass can answer. One thing I'm certain is that JJ's distribution and driving skills are what separate him from Ryan Anderson, and why Redick is actually worth up to $9 million per season. He may be in his prime now, but if he maintains great fitness and plays with the same hunger we're witnessing this season, then Redick's style of contributing will be more than effective into his mid-30s.

Jameer Nelson: No Deal
The co-captain has tenure and loyalty on his side. When Hennigan gave Jameer a front-loaded 3-year $25.2 million deal, I'd like to believe Rob's intentions were to have Nelson in the locker room through at least the conclusion of the 2013 calendar year. However, the demand for Nelson will be much higher come next year's trade deadline than now when Jameer's '14-'15 $8 million contract season is only half guaranteed. 

Plus, the 31-year-old is averaging career-highs in assists, rebounds, free throw shooting percentage, and minutes per game. It's not like anyone at Amway Center's offices is super eager to dump class act and forever underrated talent. If his shooting percentages were a bit higher, we'd be discussing how fantastic of a season Jameer has had without Dwight. If Nelson is producing all around as he's had this season, there's no doubt playoff teams will have an interest in Jameer as a backup on their contending bench. It's all about Nelson avoiding the injury bug, which he's been incapable of this season. Maybe good fortune will come in this upcoming training camp.

Hedo Turkoglu: Deal
Harrington and Hedo are in a similar boat. Odds are neither would be dealt in the coming days unless Redick is involved. Or Hennigan drugs up a GM...into a near coma. In Turk's case, it's nearly impossible now for Hedo to be sent packing as he's got another 19 games remaining on that PED suspension. Again for extra clarification, the only way Hedo can be dealt this month is if Redick goes with him. Hedo's  final contract year of $12 million in '13-'14 is only partially guaranteed.

Al Harrington: Deal
For Harrington to be dealt in the next few days, Al MUST play either Tuesday against the Bobcats, or Wednesday in Dallas. It's not negotiable. No playoff team will take a risk on Harrington if he doesn't showcase the state of his mobility and offensive arsenal. It's not like Al has looked sharp as a knife in practices. I'll be pleasantly surprised if we witness a non-playoff team taking on Al. Each of Al's final two contract years of $7.2 mil in '13-'14 and $7.6 mil in '14-'15 are just 50% guaranteed. Below I have quite the outlandish scenario.

Josh McRoberts: Deal
But only in a package deal that assists Hennigan in netting a good draft pick for this or next year, or a larger contract that comes off the books in the summer of 2014 when Orlando will be in position salary cap wise to compete for postseason success. Josh has been showcased quite well this '12-'13 campaign and his extra energetic and unselfish nature has caught the eyes of some league scouts as an 11th or 12th man type of player to fill a playoff roster. 'McBob' has shown solid streaks of defending various positions. His expiring $3.1 million contract

The Duke product only turns 26 years old in a little over a week. Josh is still young, has a lot of spring in his step, and has been decent at knocking down open jumpers and 3-pointers. This is where Rob and I won't see eye-to-eye. Henny very well may accept a measly 2nd rounder for McRoberts to greatly decrease salary. I would much rather combine Josh with Redick, Hedo, or Harrington to get a draft pick, but also a young current NBA player. 

Gustavo Ayon: Deal
It's only $1.5 million in salary, but no more 'Goose' gives guys like Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O'Quinn time to develop. Ayon went from complete trash to serviceable over these past few weeks. A playoff team short on big men depth won't be shy to take a flyer on a cheap contract. Gustavo's passing ability is phenomenal.

If the deadline goes by and Gustavo is still in Magic pinstripes, keep an eye on July 25th. That's when Ayon's final year at $1.5 million for the '13-'14 season becomes guaranteed. What's most scary for me is that Goose is already going to turn 28 years old on April Fools' Day. If an opportunity at a 2nd rounder presents itself, Henny should and will pounce. Otherwise, I think we're going to allow Gustavo to venture to Europe come the summer. Ayon's body hasn't responded well to a full NBA season. 

Glen Davis: No Deal
But that will change come the summer when 'Big Baby' will be fully healthy from his broken foot. Glen is a fabulous asset off the bench for a franchise seeking championship contention. 

If you don't see Nikola Vucevic, Kyle O'Quinn, E'Twaun Moore, Andrew Nicholson, Ish Smith, DeQuan Jones, and Maurice Harkless, well it's because they're most likely not on the trading block. Whether they're youthful building blocks or just too insignificant to garner respect on the trade market, I'll leave it to you folks to interpret. Those players are 'safe' in my eyes. Then again, a guy like Ish or DeQuan can always be thrown in as a trade filler to satisfy a salary or roster limit restriction. 

The selections of Nicholson and O'Quinn already signify that Rob Hennigan is a great drafter. Henny dealt Ryno for Ayon to save on salary. Rob is looking like a solid winner of that Dwight-Denver-Bynum August deal. Now we'll see what he's made of in the mid-season trading world, and that's only if he pulls the trigger on a transaction. Strap in though, because I don't think we'll stand pat. There will be at least one move, but no one has a clue whether it will be major or minuscule. 

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