The Orlando Magic will finish the 2012-13 season towards the very bottom of the standings, unable to consistently win games ever since the organization traded away stars like Dwight Howard and J.J. Redick.
However, not all is lost in the "magic kingdom," as several stars such as center Nikola Vucevic, small forward Moe Harkless and power forward Tobias Harris have emerged as cornerstones for the franchise as it attempts to rebuild and once again become a contender. And with the possibility of opening up millions of dollars to spend on free agents and incoming rookies, the Magic have many options to choose from as they continue to build for the future.
We'll look at the contracts that Orlando will (or are capable of) shed off their payroll this offseason, as well as several upcoming free agents that the team should target in order to build for the future.
Currently, the only player with an expiring contract who is on the Magic's roster is point guard Beno Udrih, who was recently acquired by Orlando in the trade that sent J.J. Redick to the Milwaukee Bucks. And if the team retains the rights of all 13 players that the organization owns contractually (without including any potential free agent signings, extensions or rookie salaries), the Magic's cap figure for the 2013-14 season will be at a shade under 52 million dollars.
However, the Magic can shed over 10.5 million dollars from their salary cap for the upcoming season if they waive the rights to small forward Hedo Turkoglu and power forward Al Harrington while also declining to extend a qualifying offer to small forward DeQuan Jones. With all three players failing to provide substantial production, the best option for Orlando is to rid themselves of the contracts by letting the players walk, or trading them to teams in need of cap relief.
So what does this mean for Orlando? With the salary cap being set at 58.044 million dollars for the past three seasons, teams should expect the cap limit to either stay the same or to increase by a minimal amount for the 2013-14 season. So if the organization is unable to unload Turkoglu or Harrington's contracts to other teams and is forced to waive their rights (while also letting Jones walk), the team will have around 17 million dollars to offer up to a maximum of five players, whether they be free agents or drafted rookies.
Additionally, the team would need to raise their cap figure to 90% of the salary cap to reach the salary cap floor (per the rules of the latest collective bargaining agreement), and while any players the team drafts in the 2013 NBA draft and their salaries will count toward this figure, the team will need to sign at least one free agent to break the salary cap floor.
In order to see which players Orlando would likely target in free agency, we'll look at a projected depth chart for the Magic (without accounting for drafted rookies while presuming the team rids themselves of Turkoglu, Harrington and Jones) for the upcoming season:
Point Guard: 1. Jameer Nelson 2. E'Twaun Moore
Shooting Guard: 1. Arron Afflalo 2. Doron Lamb
Small Forward: 1. Moe Harkless
Power Forward: 1. Tobias Harris 2. Glen Davis 3. Andrew Nicholson
Center: 1. Nikola Vucevic 2. Kyle O'Quinn
After looking at the projected depth chart, it becomes obvious that the positions the Magic should focus on improving are point guard, small forward and center (while seeing if they can unload power forward Glen Davis either this offseason or next summer). And while Orlando will fill several of these holes with rookies, which I previously covered in an article detailing who would be at the top of the Magic's draft board, there are still plenty of free agents that the team can pursue.
At point guard, the Magic could look to sign players such as: Portland Trailblazers Eric Maynor, Indiana Pacers D.J. Augustin, Memphis Grizzlies Jerryd Bayless and San Antonio Spurs Patty Mills.
The small forwards the team may consider signing include: New Orleans Hornets Al-Farouq Aminu, Los Angeles Lakers (and former Magic player) Earl Clark and Minnesota Timberwolves Chase Budinger.
Finally, at center, Orlando should consider signing: Sacramento Kings Cole Aldrich, Charlotte Bobcats B.J. Mullens and Toronto Raptors Aaron Gray.
it's difficult to determine which free agents the Magic will look to sign until the team adds rookies through the NBA draft, but the team would do itself a favor by looking into acquiring the players mentioned in the previous lists.