Do I see Tinker Bell? Or maybe just her pixie dust trail? Maybe I’m just seeing the new Disney patch on the jerseys….
Offseason free agent wins do not come often with the Orlando Magic in recent history. CJ Watson. Jeff Green. Luke Ridnour. Channing Frye. Ben Gordon. I could go on for days. But this year, I am seeing some sunshine poking from behind the clouds. This time, I feel like we may have something! I am obviously happy with our draft picks. My biggest concern for them will be minutes (Iwundu not as much because I foresee D-League play for him). But for free agents signings, wow.
I was concerned as the summer rolled on and I kept watching free agent after free agent get snatched by other teams. Star players, role players, seasoned veterans flying all over the place but not a peep out of Orlando. Then, one day, I logged on to Twitter and saw we signed….
I immediately was excited. What a great add! Simmons is 27 years old but only a 2 year veteran with both of those seasons being played in San Antonio. He was stuck in the D-League before that, almost quitting basketball completely to get a 9-5 job to raise his four daughters. He’s a decent shooter that spreads the floor and can get to the rim in a hurry. And he’s not lacking defense either – he limited James Harden to just 2 of 11 field goals when Kawai Leonard got injured. Look for him to make an immediate impact defensively.
Next up is Arron Afflalo. RCR’s Mike Yazigi texted me a screenshot of the deal and said “I laughed”. I did too. I mean, Arron was a part of the extra-crappy years here. Where we didn’t have any sort of upside. It was more of a “God I hope we win against the 76er’s” and that was it. But now he’s back. He came out and said he was happiest here in Orlando I can see why. He was the only true offensive threat and was treated like a star when he was honestly just above-average. We had no one else to root for!
Now, at 31, Arron is posed for a comeback year. His points per game have gone down every year since his departure and finished last year with single-digits PPG for the first time since ’09-’10. He will be battling minutes with the youngsters but don’t think he will be holding back. He wants to win.
Lastly is the signing of Marreese Speights. He just turned 30 on August 4th but I don’t think that will slow him down at all. Mo has expanded his game in a big way – shooting threes. In his first 8 years in the league he made just 43 three-pointers. Last year he finished with 103! A pick-and-pop specialist (like his new teammate Nikola Vucevic), look for this Florida native to be setting high screens and rolling back to hit a three over a smaller defender. Makes you reminisce back to Ryan Anderson, right?
Shelvin Mack and Khem Birch are decent additions as well (much better than anything from last year). I do not expect a ton of minutes for these two unless we see an injury occur.
The Magic technically have two remaining two-way deals (G-League/NBA contracts), but I could not care less about those right now. The roster seems to be pretty set in stone for the upcoming season. The biggest question now? Elfrid Payton. He is in a Blake Bortles situation right now. He needs to step-up or just settle in as a reserve. There are several point guards out there that I am sure Orlando would love to target. But for now, let’s just focus on the positives. Let’s go Magic.