I say it is never too early in a season (especially this one) to start taking a hard look at free agency. A lot of what would make these players “fit” is dependent on who Orlando brings back or decides to take in the draft. With that being said, here are my top 10 free agents for Magic fans to keep an eye on. They are in no particular order.
Carmelo Anthony SF (Early Termination Option)
Although a long shot, there is a chance Melo takes a look at Orlando. He hasn’t had the best experience in New York teaming with other superstars and this season in particular could very well be the final nail in the coffin for his career in the big apple. Orlando can offer a team of young talent around him where he can be the clear number one option on offense. It is also hard to dispute Orlando’s poise for a potential climb to success with draft picks to continually build a team around him. Although Orlando may be a smaller market than he is used to, he would still be able to take home more of his salary due to Florida’s lack of a state tax. Now all Melo needs is his wife’s permission to leave New York.
Lance Stephenson SG (Unrestricted)
I’m not sure that Indiana would be willing to meet the demand that his performance this season will earn him. Much in the same way that James Harden was almost too talented for his role in OKC, I think that Stephenson will want to reinvent himself on another team in a more prominent role. He is a well-rounded, hardworking player that would provide immediate value. He was close to being an all-star this year, and definitely would be an all-star next year in Orlando.
Zach Randolph PF (Player Option)
If Glen Davis was everything we wanted him to be, he would probably look a lot like Z-Bo. A traditional power forward with a fantastic low-post game, Randolph also has a nose for the ball on the offensive glass. Orlando could use the help on the boards and the dual offensive threat of Z-Bo and Vucci Mane could be devastating.
Luol Deng SF (Unrestricted)
While Cleveland hangs on to hope that Lebron James comes back home and does everything it can to put out all the fires surrounding Kyrie Erving, Luol Deng is quietly building his case for free agency this offseason. Cleveland did draft picks to get Deng, but that doesn’t bother me if I am a fan of the Cavs because of their perceived incompetence in last year’s draft taking the biggest disappointment since Darko Milicic.
Chris Bosh PF (Early Termination Option)
Can you imagine how much better watching a Bosh jumper would be in comparison to watching Glen Davis take a fade away? Bosh’s candidacy would more than likely be based on what his current teammates in Miami do. There is a potential for all three of the Heat’s superstars to leave this offseason, and as unlikely as that is, it is more feasible that one of them could. I don’t see LeBron James even considering Orlando and Dwayne Wade’s health is suspect at best. Bosh would fit.
Greg Monroe C (Restricted)
This acquisition would be dependent on a few things. Are we hanging out hat on Vucevic for the long haul? Monroe is quietly turning into one of the best big men in the league while being hidden on a bad team with a lot of the attention on Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. He is more athletic than Vucevic and it can be argued that he has more potential. If the Magic were to acquire him, it may mean that the writing would be on the wall for Vucevic. Expect Detroit to match any offers if Josh Smith keeps his level of play where it is.
Gordon Hayward SF (Restricted)
Another player that will outperform what his current team will be willing to pay when the time comes. I really think Utah is making a mistake by not offering an extension. He is a consistent scorer with lights out three point shooting. He has been developing a defensive game that keeps him on the floor even when guarding the elite at his position. I think he would fit well, and be content in a small market like Orlando.
Kyle Lowry PG (Unrestricted)
If the Oladipo point guard experiment doesn’t work, the gap left by an aging Jameer would be obvious. We didn’t pull the trigger on Eric Bledsoe when we had the chance. Kyle Lowry has been playing out of his mind this season and will more than likely be the top option at point guard. He plays bigger than his 6-0 listing and seems to be steadily improving. He has an ability to score at will and distribute the ball. This is another case of an all-star snub that would have a great chance at making an all-star team in Orlando.
Danny Granger SF (Unrestricted)
This is a move that I think Otis Smith would make without hesitation. He has been an all-star, franchise player, and volume scorer in Indiana before falling to injury issues. He will be looking to reinvent himself as a superstar again under the banner of a new franchise. Would probably be a roll of the dice at best, but will be looking to increase his free agency stock with whatever playing time Indiana gives him the rest of the season. Unfortunately, we may never see him return to his old form.
Nate Robinson PG (Player Option)
Has had success in every stop he has made on his NBA journey and will likely be a fan favorite wherever it is that he lands. He seems to completely take over a handful of games for his team each year and is as fiery a competitor as you will find. I’d imagine a team would be able to get him at a decent price. It definitely wouldn’t hurt to sign “Krypto-Nate,” fueling the anti-Dwight contingent. He is (a bit) undersized and can be a liability on defense.