At a glance: Recapping the Magic’s free agency additions
No, they didn’t add anybody on the level of Pau Gasol or Lance Stephenson, never mind LeBron James, via free agency over the summer.
But compared to a year ago, when the only two veterans they signed wound up playing a total of 65 games and getting cut in July, the Orlando Magic could qualify as wheelers if not full-fledged dealers.
General manager Rob Hennigan took a major risk in jettisoning both Arron Afflalo, the Magic’s leading scorer each of the past two seasons, and Jameer Nelson, the franchise’s all-time assists leader. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Magic were busiest at acquiring veteran guards, even though first-round draft pick Elfrid Payton should be the player who helps them out at that position the most in the long run.
While all those transactions have been generally viewed in a favorable light, it remains to be seen whether Hennigan’s remaking of the roster will transform the Magic from a 23-win team into one which could make a run at the .500 mark or a playoff berth.
With the start of training camp less than two weeks away, here’s a look at the veteran players the Magic have brought in:
Channing Frye, F-C (4 years, $32 million)
It doesn’t hurt that Tobias Harris, one of the players on whom the Magic are building their foundation for the future, and Frye are first cousins. But a bigger selling point was that they hadn’t had a big man who could knock down 3-pointers with regularity since the days of Rashard Lewis and Ryan Anderson. He should serve as a complement to players such as Harris and Victor Oladipo who prefer getting out in the open court and getting to the rim that way. "I’m happy to be somewhere where I think I’ll continue to run," Frye said after leaving the Phoenix Suns to join the Magic. "They don’t play too much slowdown basketball." Hennigan also envisions the 31-year-old Frye being a positive influence on one of the NBA’s youngest teams, saying: "He’s a got way about him, and he has a temperament and an intelligence level that our whole team will benefit from."
Evan Fournier, G (acquired from Denver)
A first-round draft pick in 2012, Fournier is an energetic 21-year-old who straddles the line between confidence and cockiness. That was evident a few weeks ago when he played for his native country of France in the FIBA World Cup and helped his team to a bronze medal while also getting under the skin of his own coach. As the only veteran acquired in exchange for Afflalo, he is bound to be compared by fans and those outside the organization to him for much or all of the upcoming season. Fournier can get off on the good foot with Magic coach Jacque Vaughn by showing a combination of fearlessness and court judgment.
Ben Gordon, G (2 years, $9 million)
Magic vice president Scott Perry and assistant general manager Matt Lloyd sold Hennigan on Gordon, who’s no longer the 20-point scorer and sixth man extraordinaire he was with the Chicago Bulls when his career began. At 31 and coming off a disappointment season in Charlotte, he might be able to turn back the clock every now and then. But like Frye, the Magic picture Gordon providing direction to players such as Oladipo, Harris and Maurice Harkless. "The thing that struck me right away was that these guys really love the game and they work hard," he said. "For a young group of talented players, that’s always a main ingredient."
Luke Ridnour, G (2 years, $5.5 million)
Ronnie Price was a terrific presence in the locker room but never much of a scoring threat. Even at 33, the Magic envision Ridnour providing a combination of scoring and leadership. After starting in all 82 games two years ago for the Minnesota Timberwolves, he had a total of only 14 starts last season with Milwaukee and Charlotte while averaging less than 19 minutes a game. He’s a 35 percent shooter from 3-point range for his career and an 86.2 percent shooter from the free-throw line.
Willie Green, G (1 year, $1.4 million)
"I’m not going to kid you. I was surprised," Green said of the Magic’s interest in him after the Los Angeles Clippers let him go. "But at the same time, it was exciting." Hennigan called Green, who broke in with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2003, "someone who can lead" as well as "a well-rounded player." But it’s tough to imagine a scenario where the Magic will carry Green, Ridnour and Gordon at the same time on their active roster. All three aren’t much younger than Vaughn, who turns 40 in February.