With the free-agency period upon us, the Orlando Magic don't figure to be players for big names like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony, but general manager Rob Hennigan may still be active with the next tier of free agents.
As the Orlando Sentinel's Josh Robbins explained, the Magic are relying more on the draft to rebuild the team.
The reality is the Magic are unlikely to make a major splash in the upcoming free-agency period, according to a league source with knowledge of the team's strategy. If the worst available free agent rates as a "1" on a 1-to-10 talent scale and James rates as a "10," the Magic likely will target a player or players who rate as a 5 1/2 or a 6.
Orlando will have nearly $28 million in cap room to spend, adds Robbins.
In the coming days, the dust will begin to settle as rumors either turn into realities or fail to materialize. Now is a good time to rank the gossip from least to most believable.
5. Sign Luol Deng
After going from a playoff team to a team that picked first in the NBA draft two years in a row, Deng will probably look to find his way back on a contender this summer.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Deng may also price himself out of Orlando's range.
Magic officials like Cleveland Cavaliers free-agent-to-be Luol Deng, a defensive-minded 29-year-old small forward. For Deng to consider Orlando, he probably would want a massive payday, and it seems unlikely that the Magic would meet his asking price.
The Magic also drafted forward Aaron Gordon and acquired point guard Elfrid Payton in the NBA draft. Both were heralded for their defensive abilities going into the NBA, a skill duplicated by Deng. At this point, Orlando's money would be better spent on shooters.
The team also waived Jameer Nelson, signaling a youth movement. Any agreement between Deng and the Magic would seemingly be a waste of time for both parties.
4. Acquire Greg Monroe
Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe is a restricted free agent and will have no shortage of offer sheets. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Magic will be among his potential suitors.
Orlando's roster is young, and Monroe, 24, would help fill a need at power forward. However, neither Monroe nor Nikola Vucevic can protect the rim.
For a team that currently lacks scoring power, a tandem of Monroe and Vucevic risks far too many easy points at the basket.
Still, if Orlando does make an offer and the Atlanta Hawks and other suitors are preoccupied chasing other free agents, the Magic could land him if the Pistons aren't willing to match the offer sheet.
3. Sign Chandler Parsons
Magic fans would love a homecoming by Lake Howell High School (Winter Park) graduate Chandler Parsons, who is set to become a restricted free agent.
Looking to sign James or Anthony, the Houston Rockets have delayed re-signing Parsons. This leaves Houston in a tricky cap situation, as teams will have an opportunity to sign Parsons to an offer sheet.
The Rockets will have just three days to match an offer from another team, per league rules. If Orlando offers more than any other team (and it could, given its cap room) and Houston is tied up in the chase for James/Anthony, the Magic have a chance to land the local kid.
2. Sign Rodney Stuckey
Now without Nelson, the Magic could be looking to add a reserve point guard to solidify the position behind Payton.
According to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, Orlando is interested in Detroit Pistons free agent Rodney Stuckey.
The Pistons’ other free agents — Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva — are not expected to return. Stuckey will receive interest — expect the Orlando Magic to speak with the veteran combo guard. The market for Villanueva isn’t clear.
Stuckey, 28, is a capable scorer who averaged 13.9 points per game coming off the bench for the Pistons last season. Orlando will likely add a ball-handler, and Stuckey is a solid combo guard who can help spell both Payton and Victor Oladipo.
Stuckey is the "6 player" (as Robbins described it) that the Magic could make a priority while other teams chase the 8s, 9s and 10s.
1. No Major Splash
The Magic won't contend for a playoff run this season, so tying up money in a veteran free agent doesn't make sense.
Orlando is looking to be flexible under the cap, especially with the more promising summer of 2015 a year away when impact players like Rajon Rondo, Goran Dragic, Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Al Jefferson, Kevin Love and others are free agents.
Basically, what's the point of signing an impact free agent this offseason knowing that this is a long-term rebuild? It's better to let the young core of this team—Oladipo, Gordon, Payton and Vucevic—develop together.
After all, Hennigan has tied the future of the Magic to those guys, not anyone in free agency.