Even before Thursday night’s NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic made big news by trading their leading scorer, Arron Afflalo, to the Denver Nuggets. In return, the Magic received young guard Evan Fournier and the 56th pick in the draft, which was used on Iowa’s Roy Devyn Marble.
With rumors swirling that team’s were lining up for Afflalo, and potentially offering a first round selection on Thursday night, many felt as though it was not fair value for the former UCLA Bruin. Orlando Sentinel beat writer Josh Robbins asked general manager Rob Hennigan about how significant the interest that Afflalo drew on the trade market was, to which he had this to say, “It was significant. You know, Arron’s a good player and he’s a great competitor, a great teammate, and you could see why a lot of teams had interest. We started to parse through all the options that existed, or that we felt like made sense for us, and we felt this was the top of the list for us.”
In Fournier, the Magic are receiving a young, talented wing, who can bring a much needed shooting dynamic to the roster. In 114 games over two seasons with the Nuggets, Fournier averaged 7.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game, while only averaging 16.9 minutes per contest.
When asked about Fournier and the versatility that he can bring to the table, Hennigan had this to say, “Yeah, you know Evan’s a guy that we see as a versatile player. He can handle the ball, he can help stretch the floor, he can make plays, and we think he gives solid effort on the defensive end. So, we just like what he brings to the table, we like the skill set he brings to the team and we’ll see how it goes.”
Making a deal for Afflalo at this point makes sense for the organization as well. Following this season, Afflalo has a player option on his contract, and if he was still in Magic pinstripes, could have very well opted out. Hennigan has shown a willingness to move players who are about to become free agents who were very productive with the team when he moved guard JJ Redick to the Milwaukee Bucks at the trade deadline in 2013.
Hennigan was asked if the thought process was the same with the Afflalo move, to which he said, “I would say somewhat similar, but not the same. We didn’t go into this period of the calendar year mandating that we make a move. We wanted to read the situation and try to discover opportunities and when we found one that we liked it felt like it made sense. But, never an easy decision, especially when we decided to trade someone of Arron’s calibre; you know mainly as a professional and as a competitor.”
Picking up the second round selection in Marble was also something that Hennigan and the team was very high on. Hennigan gushed about the 6-foot-6 guard and his on court abilities saying, “Yeah, you know Roy is someone we feel can bring a lot of different things. He’s skilled, he knows how to play the game. He has an aptitude and intelligence level on the floor that we feel helps make other players better; so its more of an overall cerebral, instinctual element to his game that we like quite a bit.”
At the end of the day, this may not have been the deal many Magic fans would have wanted for Afflalo, but it could turn out to be a very good one. In moving Afflalo and only taking back Fournier’s guaranteed money, the Magic opened up roughly six million more in cap space for this summer. While they may not make a big splash, they could very well bring in some players who could be key components for the future, be that through free agency, or via trade.
Orlando Pinstriped Post’s Evan Dunlap asked the young general manager about how much the salary played into his decision, to which Hennigan said this, “Not sure yet, Evan. I think it gives us a bit more flexibility, I think to your point which is a good one. How that is used or how that plays out I think we’ll have to start that now as we move into free agent period.”
It’s impossible to tell how good this deal will end up being for the Magic, but at this time, I would give it a solid B. Fournier is a nice young player with upside on both ends, and the cap space that the team generated could come into play in a big way this offseason, and even moreso next offseason. Not to mention Marble could give the team a nice boost off the bench if he were to make the roster.