New GM Rob Hennigan’s plan in Orlando was pretty clear — trade Dwight Howard for prospects, get young and get cheap and free up cap space to start chasing free agents in 2014 (he might have pictured a high lottery pick in there too, but Jacque Vaughn has his team overachieving and playing hard). Hennigan’s plan is still intact.
That plan did not include Ryan Anderson — the NBA’s best stretch four was trying to find someone, anyone to pay him last summer.
It ended up being the Hornets but it was not going to be the Magic because they weren’t even trying to get him, Anderson told the Orlando Sentinel.
“Some people have the crazy idea that I wanted the trade and I wanted out of there, and that’s not necessarily how it went down,” Anderson said from Louisiana in a phone interview. “It’s a game, and I understand it and I am glad that I’m here. But I just want people to know that I wasn’t turning my back on the team or anything.
“The thing is,” he added, “Orlando didn’t even make a move at me. So it was a situation where every other team we spoke with thought that Orlando was going to match, and the only team that was willing to take that risk was New Orleans. It was just a real different situation.”
The Hornets signed Anderson to a four-year, $34 million contract ($8.5 million per season average). In trading him they got Gustavo Ayón.
What is strange about passing on Anderson is Hennigan then turned around and offered Jameer Nelson basically the same money, $8.6 million a year. The difference is it is a three-year deal and the Magic can buy out Nelson’s last year (for just $2 million) to free up cap space for the free agent chase in 2014.
But Anderson and his ability to score and space the floor likely would have been more attractive to free agents than Nelson.