Wasting little time in getting their two first-round draft picks under contract, the Orlando Magic announced Wednesday morning the signings of forward Aaron Gordon and guard Elfrid Payton.
The signing of draft picks is one of the few transactions NBA teams can do during the moratorium period when they can speak to free agents. Gordon, the fourth overall pick a week ago, and Payton, the No. 10 selection who was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, had already been included as part of the Magic’s entry in the Orlando Summer League, which begins Saturday at the Amway Center practice court.
Based on the league’s rookie pay scale, Gordon will make close to $4 million in the 2014-15 season. With the trading of Arron Afflalo to the Denver Nuggets and the release of Jameer Nelson during the past week, Gordon becomes the second highest-paid player on the Magic’s current roster — behind only last year’s first-round draft choice, guard Victor Oladipo.
Payton, who will likely compete with recently acquired Evan Fournier for Nelson’s old starting job, will make close to $2.4 million as a rookie.
By signing Gordon and Payton, the Magic have used up almost all of the $6 million in salary-cap space they created by waiving Nelson before the July 16 deadline. They still have close to $20 million in cap room but are not expected to actively pursue any free agents looking for maximum contracts.
The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Gordon, who doesn’t turn 19 until Sept. 16, played and started in all 38 games during his only season at Arizona, averaging 12.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists. and 1.03 blocks in 31.2 minutes a game. He helped the Wildcats to a 33-5 record, a Pac-12 regular season championship and an Elite Eight appearance in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Gordon was named First Team All-Pac-12 and the 2013-14 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.
Payton, 20, played three years at Louisiana-Lafayette. The 6-3, 190-pound guard averaged 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.29 steals a game as a junior in leading the Ragin’ Cajuns to a 23-12 record and their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2005.