Orlando Magic Could Be Top Destination for the Free Agent Class of 2014

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Orlando Magic Could Be Top Destination for the Free Agent Class of 2014
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Moe Harkless is one of several young talents the Magic have on their roster.

No, your eyes haven't deceived you, and the headline staring you in the face isn't a joke. Come the summer of 2014, the Orlando Magic could potentially be a top spot for free agents to head.

Of course, there's a bit of a catch.

Guys like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant aren't going to be flocking to the organization like it has a prestigious history and is in position to win multiple championships any time soon.

But the Magic have always seemed to pull in fairly big-name free agents—Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill to name a few—and the city does boast a heightened level of attractiveness that may be intriguing to the right personality.

Specifically, though, what puts the city and team on the radar of potential free agents, and what kind of player would fit in with the Magic?

 

Not Just a Family Vacation Destination

When you think Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort or SeaWorld Orlando, you don't necessarily think of anything other than possible places to take your young children on vacation.

But these locations, and the area in general, provide something that many cities don't: ample marketing opportunities.

Sure, local opportunities are available in every NBA city, but not at the level that Orlando can provide. Not only that, but these aren't your typical small businesses, they're major names.

After all, there's only one Disney World, and Universal Orlando is just one of two Universal theme parks in the country.

These locations provide opportunity to make money on advertisements, appearance fees, etc. and, for the right player, might be a major selling point.

In addition to the booming tourism industry, Orlando boasts nice weather and a day at the beach is a short drive away. 

It's not on the same magnitude in terms of size as a Los Angeles or New York, but there's plenty to do, and there's plenty of opportunity.

 

Amway Center

Another aspect that might seem minuscule to most actually seems to play a pretty big role sometimes in a player's decision.

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
The Amway Center is said to have all the bells and whistles fans and players could ever want.

Arena amenities often go overlooked when they shouldn't.

The Magic moved into the Amway Center in time for the 2010-11 season, and since then, the facility has become known as one of the best arenas in the league.

In a recent article, Stadium Journey put together a list of the best NBA arenas, and the Amway Center finished in third place behind the Staples Center and AT&T Center. Here's the brief description:

If having a gorgeous place to watch a game is why you come to the place, then it is outstanding. It is very upscale, even if you are in the cheap seats. The employees there are among the friendliest stadium workers in the business. They really go out of their way.

They have something for everyone, including a play area for the little kids. Even outside the arena, walking in and going up the escalators to your seats is impressive. The streets are clean and the arena is lit up in Magic Blue lights. The lobby looks like something you'd find in an airport. For "WOW" it is hard to beat.

The word upscale defines what makes the Amway Center stand out and is a term that likely describes the condition of the locker rooms as well.

Who wouldn't want to play in a brand new facility?

 

The Coach

Jacque Vaughn may not have had a whole lot of success during his first season in Orlando, but he's well on his way to becoming a great head coach.

Even in the midst of his team putting together the worst record in the league at 20-62, Vaughn maintained a positive attitude and always seemed to serve the role of mentor rather than that of an angered, irrational coach.

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel might have said it best back in February when he wrote the following:

When it comes to the Magic, most of us see Kate Smith in flannel pajamas; Vaughn sees Kate Upton in a string bikini. Most of us see liver and onions; he sees surf and turf. Most of us see the Titanic, but he is the captain of the Good Ship Lollipop.

And that's the kind of attitude that a young team needs.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Even with his laid-back demeanor, Vaughn commands respect.

Want proof?

In his article, Bianchi quotes Magic rookie Moe Harkless as saying, of Vaughn, "If I were him I'd be going crazy and pulling my hair out. Except, he doesn't have any hair. I don't know how he does it."

It's not the proper coaching mentality for all players, but many would appreciate the lighter touch Vaughn possesses.

 

The Team

Finally, the most important aspect that may or may not determine where a player goes when he hits the free-agent market is the state that team is in.

At 20-62, it's obvious the Magic aren't destined to be a playoff team this upcoming season—or even several seasons down the road. That shouldn't, and might not, detract from the popularity of Orlando as a destination come 2014, though.

General manager Rob Hennigan has a clear vision and is already starting to make moves that will have an immediate impact.

At the trade deadline, he dealt fan favorite J.J. Redick—as well as Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith—to the Milwaukee Bucks for Tobias Harris, Beno Udrih and Doron Lamb.

It was a move that seemingly paid off immediately, as Harris averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in 27 appearances for the Magic. Whether or not he can continue that level of play has yet to be seen, but he's off to a great start.

It's likely that Orlando will struggle again next season, which may see them with another top-five draft pick in 2014.

For a young free agent looking for a new team to call home, the youth movement and clear direction might be a major appeal, along with the fact that Hennigan knows what he's doing.

So, while we likely won't be seeing King James stopping in Orlando, don't be surprised if the Magic manage to attract potential 2014 free agents such as Luol Deng or Rudy Gay (should he use his player option and opt out of his contract next season).

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