To keep or to trade?
A team in rebuilding mode must always consider every trade option that presents itself. Sometimes, it means jettisoning popular players for the sake of obtaining prospects and picks for the future. It can involve making many deals that the fans are just not happy with. However, GMs can't consider only the fans when attempting to restructure a team and return it to competitiveness.
This will be the situation the Magic face.
They have a few hold-overs from the Dwight Howard era that fans won't want to see traded, but general manager Rob Hennigan must not be afraid to make the unpopular moves, and I don't think he will be. Ergo, a couple of the guys in this slide show, Magic fans just won't want to see leave. It's only many years hence that these same fans will be applauding Hennigan for such moves.
We're going to take a look at five trade assets the Magic have that could help propel them back into the ranks of NBA contenders.
Will it take time? Sure.
But it has to start somewhere, and these moves could help the team evolve into the kind of club that can again reach the NBA Finals, as the Magic have in 1996 with Shaquille O'Neal and 2009 with Howard.
Will the Magic be able to rid themselves of Turk?
Let's face it: Turk and Harrington are both toast. Neither has much left in the tank, and neither is the kind of player that can start on a contending team, not at this point in their respective careers.
The good part? Harrington's final two seasons on the three years remaining on his contract are only 50 percent guaranteed, and the second year of Turk's last two years remaining is also only 50 percent guaranteed.
This makes both players quasi-expiring contracts, because they can be bought out.
I don't think it makes either all that easy to deal, but the fact remains that the Magic could buy them out without trading them, and thus free up roughly $10 million in salary between the two of them. That money could then be used to sign a free agent.
It's not a trade asset, exactly, but it is an asset that could play a role in a potential trade, or a sign-and-trade.
Due to these financial boons, and the trade exceptions (more on that later), it's important to realize that one of the Magic's best assets is that they are going to be under the cap. That kind of flexibility will give Hennigan a host of choices when it comes to signing free agents and making trades.
Jameer may have a career year, but I doubt he'll be happy
Despite the fact that losing Howard was more than just a possibility, the Magic inexplicably went and signed the diminutive Jameer Nelson to a three-year deal worth an average of $8.4 million per season, the last year of which is only 50% guaranteed.
It was a huge commitment to a player who is exiting his prime and hasn't looked like anything resembling a star since the first part of the 2008-09 season, when he was chosen by the coaches to the All-Star team (he ended up getting injured and not being able to participate in the '09 All-Star game).
If Nelson's contract were worth $2 million less per year, he very well may be the biggest asset on the Magic's squad, but the amount of money owed to Nelson reduces his value in potential trades. There are always teams in need of an above replacement-level starting NBA point guard, yet finding a taker for Nelson still may not be easy.
Teams that might be able to use Nelson include: Chicago (until Rose gets back), Miami (unlikely), Atlanta, and Dallas. In other words, a few teams that are playoff bound but could stand to be upgraded at the point. As to whether Nelson is truly an upgrade over Kirk Hinrich, Mario Chalmers, Jeff Teague, and Darren Collison is a matter of debate in and of itself, anyway.
Young rebuilding teams will not want Nelson, as he is coming up on 31 years of age. That is what made the Magic's signing of Nelson a bit enigmatic, other than the fact he is a fan favorite and good leader for a rebuilding team.
Davis will be called upon heavily this year
Big Baby is coming off the playoff series of his life. Against the Pacers, Davis averaged 19 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game, while somehow also blocking six shots in the five games. Davis did all of this against a player roughly a full half-foot taller in Roy Hibbert.
Some have even been throwing the words "All-Star" around in describing Davis. While I don't think he is quite that good, he is on a reasonable contract, as a former mid-level exception signing.
Davis could be featured and used on a number of contending teams, or he could be kept to help mentor Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O'Quinn, and any other big men the Magic groom for the future.
Perhaps the weirdest thing about Davis is that as an unheralded second round pick, he has been the best LSU big man since Shaq, since both high lottery picks Stromile Swift and Tyrus Thomas were bust city. Many doubted Davis would even be able to last a couple seasons in the NBA given his weight problems, but he has proven those doubters wrong.
Davis has a lot of trade value and could net at least a mid-first-round pick. Hennigan would likely jump all over that. Using Davis with the trade exception from the Gustavo Ayon trade (mentioned further later) could bring in a true top tier talent, too.
Redick may find himself wanting out soon enough
Redick is one of the biggest fan favorites in Orlando, and is a heart throb for female fans. Trading Redick would be a very unpopular move for the Magic, but I addressed that in the opening slide.
What the Magic could obtain for Redick outweighs any backlash fans may have. He's a $6 million expiring contract who is just entering his prime. Redick could be very valuable on a contending team that is in need of some shooting. The Magic could utilize one of their two trade exceptions and obtain a higher first round pick with Redick in addition to a higher paid player.
Redick offers a lot of possibilities, both because his contract is expiring and because he has proven himself to be a very capable shooting guard. He could start on a number of NBA teams. Despite how unpopular it may be, I'd be surprised if Redick wasn't traded by the trade deadline as the contending teams bid for the services of the sharp shooting Duke product.
Getting rid of this man brought a $17.8 M trade exception
As part of the Dwight Howard trade, the Magic received a $17.8 million trade exception.
The trade exceptions enable the Magic to take back players or contracts without shipping out an equal salary value in return. Simply, it enables teams to pick up players in sign-and-trades without giving anything up in return.
When the Mavericks dealt Tyson Chandler, they obtained a trade exception and used it to trade for Lamar Odom. The Odom trade gave the Lakers a trade exception, which they later utilized to bring aboard Steve Nash. So, that gives you a guideline as to how valuable a trade exception can be.
The trade exception has the potential to be the biggest trade asset the Magic have, more so than any player on their roster. But the key there is the use of the word "potential." The trade exceptions offer no promise of a great player in return, but can often work out to a team's advantage.
The Magic obtained a second exception in the Gustavo Ayon acquisition...
``One of the positive nets of this trade is all of the positive hypotheticals that exist,’’ Hennigan said, referencing the acquisition of the exception. ``Now, they are hypotheticals, but the flexibility and mobility components are things that we can explore. We’re excited about opening a variety of avenues with which we can use to build this team.’’
The flexibility offered by the trade exception is invaluable to a rebuilding team, and the Ayon trade brought the exception worth $7.5 million.
It's strange to think that the Magic's biggest trade assets aren't even players at all.