There's nothing quite like hitting the ground running, eh Rob Hennigan?
Hennigan probably still has stuff shipping to Orlando from Oklahoma City, but Orlando's new GM is not wasting any time blowing up the Magic roster and starting over. In the midst of pursuing a trade to finally jettison Dwight Howard, the Magic have agreed to send their second most valuable asset, Ryan Anderson, to New Orleans.
Unwilling to match a lucrative offer sheet from the New Orleans Hornets that Anderson was about to sign, the Magic have agreed to send the restricted free agent to the Hornets in a sign-and-trade deal for center Gustavo Ayon, league sources said. The deal is expected to be finalized on Wednesday, the day when the NBA's moratorium period on player transactions ends.
The Magic have been in desperate financial straits for a few seasons. Otis Smith spent years taking on big contracts in an effort to appease his mega-star center and build a winner.
Neither goal, ultimately, was realized.
Dwight is on his way out, and the Magic are still without an NBA title. So it is now up to Hennigan to set the charges, push the plunger and watch the old team come crumbling down in a mushroom cloud.
Anderson played for just more than $2 million last season in the final year of his rookie contract, but everyone knew he was due for a raise. And in today's financial climate and security of stretch exceptions, teams seem more willing to toss a few extra bucks at restricted free agents like Anderson... chalking it up to "the cost of doing business."
Teams know that they may be overpaying a bit, but if that's what it takes to pull a player away from his current team, so be it. If he is a flash in the pan, the stretch exception allows them to cut the guy later and spread out the cap hit.
Anderson is not likely to be a flash in the pan, though. He is a good stretch 4 who can create a ton of space for your team by merely being a threat from long range. The Hornets will have Eric Gordon, whether he likes it or not, and Austin Rivers to take advantage of that space. They can also put him on the floor with Anthony Davis and give the rookie more room to maneuver rather than worry about a lot of double-teaming.
Anderson will also create space for the Magic, who are already knocking on the luxury tax's door as currently constituted. There is no reason to cross that threshold for this Magic squad, so not paying Anderson for the next four years is a sound financial move.
In Gustavo Ayon, they get a big guy with raw talent. They also get a guy with an un-guaranteed contract that, if he doesn't fit into Orlando's plans, can be waived without penalty. If the Magic chose to guarantee that $1.5 million, they then have a team option for 2013/14 for the same amount and then a $1.8 million qualifying offer the year after that. So the Magic have three separate opportunities to dump Ayon's contract starting this summer.
Hennigan is going to have to continue to find that level of flexibility as he moves forward. He'll dump Howard at some point this summer and gain more assets to either play with or trade. This is all part of the first step of rebuilding the Magic.
You've got to tear it all down first, and that's what this move starts to do.
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