Many have questioned Orlando’s trade of Dwight Howard.
After nearly a year of hearing about the Brooklyn Nets and Brook Lopez, the Los Angeles Lakers and Andrew Bynum and a mythical deal with the Houston Rockets that seemingly included every asset they have (a rumor that was debunked by SI’s Sam Amick here), the Magic shipped Howard to Los Angeles, bringing back Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington from the Denver Nuggets and Maurice Harkless and Nikola Vucevic from the Philadelphia 76ers.
That doesn’t seem like a great haul, but general manager Rob Hennigan clearly has a plan for the future.
Obviously, after trading Howard, Hennigan’s plan won’t be a one-year fix.
The Magic will have some cap room after the season when Gustavo Ayon, Josh McRoberts and J.J. Redick come off the books (the Magic also have team options on Christian Eyenga, Kyle O’Quinn and Nikola Vucevic plus Justin Harper will be a restricted free agent). The Magic owe $46,076,066 in 2013 and if the Magic don’t exercise the options on those three players, that number comes down by about $4 million.
Sure, there are big time free agents this offseason, including Howard (ha), Chris Paul, Josh Smith and Monta Ellis, but the Magic appear to be looking forward to the 2014 offseason.
That would allow the Magic to not only potentially add a highly touted prospect through the lottery in 2o13 (Shabbaz Muhammad and Nerlins Noel appear to be the top two prospects) and in 2014 (Jabari Parker and the Harrison twins lead the way).
Currently, the Magic owe $29,276,740 for the 2014-15 season with Quentin Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu coming off the books. They can get that number down by almost $10 million because Al Harrington and Jameer Nelson have contracts that are only partially guaranteed. Of course, that number will grow a little because the Magic will have to pay their draft picks.
The Magic can then potentially team their young nucleus of Afflalo, Harkless, Andrew Nicholson, O’Quinn and Vucevic with their 2013 and 14 picks (They also own the lower of Denver’s two first rounders in 2014) with two players from the loaded free agent class of 2014 that could include the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and LeBron James.
Of course, they could also save their money for the 2015 season, try to land another lottery pick, let Glen Davis and possibly Afflalo, who has a player option, come off of the books and make a run at the class of 2015 which includes Lamarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo, among others (and the 2015 draft should include highly-coveted wing Andrew Wiggins).
(Andrew Melnick is the ESPNFlorida.com Magic and NBA Insider, co-host of the ESPN 1080 Insiders Show and publisher of Howard the Dunk. The Insiders Show can be heard Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST on AM 1080 in Orlando and on ESPNFlorida.com. You can follow Andrew on twitter here.)