With Orlando’s recent struggles (the last few games notwithstanding), the Magic have been the center of a lot of trade talk. It’s been quiet around the locker room and at Magic practice, but Magic General Manager Otis Smith’s moves have always come in an atmosphere like that.
Just over 11 months ago, Smith sent Brian Cook to the Houston Rockets and Adonal Foyle, Mike Wilks and their 2009 1st round draft pick (which wound up being DeMarre Carroll) to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Rockets Point Guard Rafer Alston.
Of course, that deal was made under different circumstances – the Magic had just lost Jameer Nelson for the rest of the season.
Alston helped guide the Magic to the finals.
After the season ended, Otis Smith made the biggest trade of his career when he sent Alston, Tony Battie, and Courtney Lee to the New Jersey Nets for Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson.
Now, rather than being Orlando’s prized offseason acquisition, Carter, in the midst of the worst season of his career and is at the center of many of these rumors.
One of the big rumors that has been thrown out there is a possible Vince Carter-for-Tracy McGrady swap. This really doesn’t make sense for the Rockets. Why would the Rockets trade an expiring contract for a player who has another year left on his deal? Rather than take on Carter who will be 34 next season, the Rockets could simply sit McGrady until his deal runs out at the end of the season (which is their current plan). If the Rockets are dead set on getting rid of McGrady, it would likely only be for other expiring contracts.
If the Rockets did in fact accept (or make) this offer, why would Smith take it? McGrady had microfracture surgery on his left knee about 11 months ago. McGrady has played in just six games and has averaged 7.7 minutes per game. If Smith did trade for McGrady, it would feel like he is essentially packing it in this season, which is something that both the fans and players would not appreciate.
Let’s take a look at the Magic players who have been involved in rumors and see why they would be difficult to trade.
Carter still has not played many games with Orlando’s full cast of contributors. He’s also had some injury issues, which are uncommon for him (As previously mentioned, Carter has not missed more than nine games since the 2002-2003 season). Carter is under contract for the 2010-2011 season for $17.3 million and the bottom feeders of the league are looking to dump salary to gear up for free agency so it’s unlikely they would want to take on that kind of salary for the 2010-2011 season. The Magic are going to help another contender improve. Smith would have to be absolutely blown away to move Carter and that’s not a likely scenario.
Gortat was hot commodity in the offseason after his double-double in Orlando’s series-clinching game 6 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs. He was rewarded with a 5-year, $34 million offer sheet from the Dallas Mavericks. Orlando matched the offer sheet and kept Gortat. Gortat’s value has dropped a bit since then. His numbers have taken a slight dip even though his minutes have not.
Gortat’s big contract and lowered value are not the only reasons he would be difficult to trade. Since Gortat received a substantial raise in the offseason, he is subject to Base year compensation. This means that his trade value is actually only 50% of his actual contract. Gortat is making $5,854,000 this season.
Bass signed a 4-year, $18 million contract with the Magic in the offseason. Bass is just 25 years old and would appear to be one of Orlando’s most tradeable assets, but Bass’ value has gone on a downward spiral. Bass has played in just 28 games this season and when he has played, he hasn’t played much. Over the last two seasons, Bass was playing 19.5 minutes per game but Bass is playing just 13.3 minutes per game this season. Bass is shooting a career-high 52.2% and his per-36 numbers are nearly identical to last season’s (except for his rebounding, which has seen a decline), but teams have not gotten a good look at Bass this season.
Bass is young and doesn’t have a bad contract money-wise, but teams may shy away from three-and-a-half commitment to a player that they have not seen much from this season.
Those are the names that have been thrown around the most, but in actuality, the most likely players to be traded are those with expiring contracts. Those players are Anthony Johnson ($2.16 million), Jason Williams ($1.3 million), and Adonal Foyle ($1.3 million). J.J. Redick had his fourth year option exercised before this season meaning a qualifying offer can be made to him.
Redick and Williams have been important pieces for the Magic. It’s unlikely that either will be dealt.
Johnson seems like the most likely candidate to go but it would most likely have to be a large deal considering his low salary.
It’s going to be hard for the Magic to be very active in the trade market but Otis Smith has proven that if the right deal is out there, he won’t hesitate to pull the trigger.