The Orlando Magic have endured a pretty tough time in the last 12 months, primarily due to the excessively drawn out Dwight Howard saga. The "Dwightmare," as it was labeled, saw Howard finally depart to Los Angeles, Stan Van Gundy fired as head coach and the roster gutted of nearly all its talent.
Off with Howard into the sunset are Jason Richardson, Ryan Anderson, Earl Clark and Chris Duhon. With so many key departures, the Magic are re-tooling under the guidance of GM Rob Hennigan. Given Hennigan's involvement with both the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, it's no surprise to see the Magic attempt to rebuild from the ground up.
Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Moe Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, Gustavo Ayon, Christian Eyenga, Josh McRoberts and host of future draft picks have all arrived in central Florida. Considering they lost the NBA's best center, it's an extremely underwhelming return. But the moves get Orlando out of the luxury tax zone and has given it significant cap space moving forward.
Now, with a host of players on movable contracts and cap space capable of luring free agents, the Magic are far from done at the trade table in season 2012/13.
So who will be next to depart Orlando? And who will be the next to arrive?
Here's a breakdown of all the rumors surrounding to Orlando Magic.
Al Harrington and Josh McRoberts were both acquired by Orlando in the four-team deal that saw Howard join the Lakers. But both players are considered trade pieces by Orlando management, according to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel.
After losing promising power forward Ryan Anderson to New Orleans, Harrington would seem like a suitable replacement. Playing in Denver last season, Harrington averaged 14.2 points and 6.1 rebounds in 64 games and finished fourth in Sixth Man of the Year voting. The veteran would provide scoring off the bench and help the Magic's group of young bigs develop.
However, it seems that Hennigan doesn't think Harrington fits Orlando's rebuilding structure, and given that he's owed $12.8 million over the next two seasons, it appears as if Hennigan is keen to move the forward to a playoff team looking for a scorer.
Josh McRoberts, who endured a difficult season in Los Angeles last year, is also on the trade table. The power-forward averaged just 2.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game with the Lakers last season. McRoberts, who only has $3 million and one year remaining on his contract, also isn't likely part of Hennigan's rebuilding plans and is easily movable if the right picks are available.
In addition to some new faces being on the trade table, it seems that all of the Magic incumbents are also set to be made available by Orlando.
In the same report, Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel has reported that the Magic are open to talks if any team is interested in Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, Glen Davis, J.J. Redick and Quentin Richardson.
While this shows that Hennigan and Alex Martins are exploring every possible option in their quest to rebuild the Magic, it's highly unlikely that any team will be prepared to take on Nelson, Turkoglu, Davis and Richardson and their rich multi-year contracts.
Nelson is owed roughly $20 million over the next three years after re-signing with the Magic in July, a deal that was widely criticized and smacked of desperation. Turkoglu still has almost $18 million and two years remaining on his contract, while Davis has almost $20 million and three years on his. Richardson has two years left and $5.4 million remaining.
The one player that other teams would be interested in is J.J. Redick. The former Duke star has emerged as a reliable scorer for the Magic and has improved his ball-handling skills significantly. He was also one player that Stan Van Gundy trusted in clutch situations.
The career 40 percent three-point shooter has an expiring deal at $6.7 million and would be a valuable addition to any playoff team looking for a third or fourth scoring option. Given his easily movable contract, the Magic could use Redick to acquire young talent and/or future picks.
It appears that the Magic are also looking outside the NBA in their search for players to rebuild their team around.
According to a report by Evan Dunlap of the Orlando Pinstriped Post, the Magic expressed interest in CSKA Moscow power forward Andrey Vorontsevich in August. Vorontsevich averaged 5.8 points and 2.7 rebounds in the 2011-12 season. However, the 25-year old turned the Magic down to remain in Moscow.
Vorontsevich, who is part of the Russian national side, has the ability to run the floor and play on the perimeter like many of the European bigs now plying their trade in the NBA.
And it appears that Orlando wasn't the only team interested in the Russian. It is believed that both the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder were actively pursuing the power forward in recent months.
But the power-forward clarified the situation in an interview with Anton Solomin of Sport Express.
I don’t know why it was so blown out of proportion by the media. I did travel to Oklahoma, but didn’t do any workouts there. The Thunder were interested in me before, and they still are. We’ve met with the club representatives and talked. But I never said it anywhere that I was leaving for the States. What I know right now is I am still under contract with CSKA for two years. If I had a real offer from an NBA club, then we would at least have something to talk about.
Mexican center Gustavo Ayon, who was acquired in the deal that sent Ryan Anderson to New Orleans, has hinted that he may want to return to Spain in the near future.
In his first season as a rookie, Ayon averaged 5.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in 54 games with the Hornets in 2011-12 and proved to be an efficient scorer for a first-year player, hitting on almost 54 percent of his field goals.
But in an interview with Marca.com, Ayon expressed his desire to return to Spain if the opportunity arose.
"I would be proud if I could return to Spain and go back to a team like Real Madrid or Barcelona. I prefer Madrid because I know the city better."
Although it appears that Ayon isn't trying to flee Orlando in the manner Dwight Howard did, it's certainly not the sort of thing that Orlando would be wanting to hear from its new young center. Ayon is the sort of young, talented piece that the Magic are looking for, and listening to him express his options is cause for some concern.
Of course, the Mexican is likely expressing his options, so the Magic know that they will have to put together a reasonable package to keep him in central Florida.
Options are without doubt the best bargaining tool there is.
Now that the Dwight Howard trade has finally occurred, plenty of reports are coming out regarding what was offered to the Magic for their star center by various teams around the league.
Rob Hennigan turned down 76ers president Rod Thorn, as the Magic didn't feel that Iguodala would fit in their rebuilding plans. Iguodala subsequently ended up in Denver as part of the four-team deal that sent Howard to the Lakers.
While many Magic fans were disappointed that Orlando did not receive any All-Star talent in return for Howard, turning down Iguodala was a good move by a franchise that hasn't made too many in recent years.
Despite being part of Team USA's gold medal winning team at the London Olympics, Iguodala is not the star that the Magic can build around. A rugged and athletic defender who is realistically a second scoring option is not the type of player to build a team around.
In addition, Iguodala's massive contract that owes him $30 million and still has two years to run is hardly the type of contract a team looking to rebuild wants to pick up.
One seven-foot No.1 pick to replace another? Maybe.
John Denton from OrlandoMagic.com reported that Orlando are interested in signing former Portland center Greg Oden. Oden, the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft, was cut from the Trail Blazers in March this year after enduring five painful seasons plagued by injury. Three of those seasons saw Oden not take the court for a single game.
Oden, when asked about an NBA return, has said that he intends to take the 2012-13 season off to focus on his rehabilitation. He reiterated that stance in an interview with David Hughes of the Terre Haute, Ind., Tribune-Star.
I would love to play [in 2012-13], but I'm not going to rush anything. I need to take a year off. What I told Mike was 'Look, I want to get back with a team. I want to play. If there's a chance that later on in the [NBA] year, if I feel good or if I'm healthy enough to play, I would love to play this year.' That's the conversation we had. I think some people kinda blew that up and took his words and kinda changed them around. I know I need to get healthy first before I do anything.
It's not like teams are out there telling people they want me, because they're not right now. And I'm not out there telling people I want to go to a certain team. I want to go to a place where I can get healthy and with somebody who can believe in me and my skills — somewhere it could be a good fit for the both of us.
Orlando's interest in Oden is likely based around the fact that it wouldn't need to commit a lot of years and money to Oden. The injury-plagued center would be sought after by several teams, but few would be willing to take a big gamble on him. Therefore, Orlando may be able to acquire a replacement for Howard on the cheap and provide Oden with place to return that doesn't have the eyes of the world fixed on him.