The Orlando Magic reportedly came to an agreement on a two-year, $9 million deal with veteran guard Ben Gordon on Wednesday which guarantees only the first year. The deal on the outside has left many fans puzzled, but Magic general manager Rob Hennigan may have found himself a decent under-the-radar deal.
Gordon is best known for his time with the Chicago Bulls, where he averaged at least 18 points, three rebounds and three assists from 2006 to 2009. Gordon brings veteran leadership to a team that will likely have just one other player over the age of 30 come the start of next season. Gordon boasts a career 40 percent three-point shooting percentage, which will fill one of the Magic’s immediate needs. The Magic tied the Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks for the 19th-best three-point shooting percentage in the league last season, and haven’t exactly added any snipers in rookie first-round draft picks Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton. The Magic will look to Gordon to come off of the bench and perhaps provide some help on the second team, which could feature Gordon and Payton.
It’s been no secret at this point that Hennigan has wanted to stockpile assets and build a younger team with friendly contracts during his time in Orlando. While agreeing to a $4.5 million deal with the 31-year-old Gordon is the exact opposite of building a young team with manageable contracts, it does provide Hennigan with yet another asset. Gordon’s salary for 2014-15 could be used to help Hennigan work a deal around the trade deadline that would allow salaries to match should the Magic want to acquire a bigger star or use Gordon in a deal that leads to an even bigger deal. After Gordon’s salary, the next highest-paid Magic player for the upcoming season will be Victor Oladipo, who is scheduled to make just under $5 million.
All logical signs, though, point toward the team bringing in Gordon as merely a trade asset. The positions in which Gordon can play is currently full with players viewed to help the Magic down the road in Evan Fournier, Maurice Harkless, Oladipo and Payton. The team’s stance in recent seasons has been to cut minutes to older players to make way for the younger guys to play. That stance still remains with the team after their decision to part ways with Jameer Nelson and Ronnie Price, while they’ll likely be letting Jason Maxiell go in the coming days.
Time will only tell if this deal will be good for the team. Gordon was reportedly involved in an incident with then-Charlotte Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap during a team practice and has been viewed recently as a problem in the locker room. The Magic have been trying to create a problem-free locker room during their current rebuild with their younger players, so the Magic will likely monitor Gordon’s behavior moving forward. The trade at last year’s trade deadline involving J.J. Redick was met with mixed results, but after Tobias Harris proved what type of player he can be, fans came around on it and that’s what should happen here again. Hennigan’s moves are methodical and all a part of a puzzle, which is still being created.