When Orlando traded Dwight Howard to the Lakers last summer, the team did so with a long-term vision of entering a full-fledged rebuild in mind.
Made simpler, it meant that unless something truly incredible came across the desk of Magic GM Rob Hennigan, that it was fairly likely that the $17.8 million traded player exception the team received in the deal for Howard would go unused.
That’s exactly what ended up happening, as the exception expired at midnight on Sunday.
Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld explains in a little more detail the reasons behind the Magic’s decision not to use it:
The problem with the Magic doing anything meaningful with the TPE is Orlando is still on the hook for the final $22.346 million year of Gilbert Arena’s contract, a contract that was waived using the amnesty provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. It removed that figure from the Magic’s salary cap, but still remains a bill the Magic have to pay.
The Magic also cut Quentin Richardson last year ($2.808 million this year) and Al Harrington this summer ($3.574 million this year and $3.804 million next year), leaving the Magic with more than $28.72 million payable to players no longer on the roster in addition to the $52.122 million owed to guys that will play this year.
Using the $17.816 million TPE would have only added to those numbers and there simply wasn’t anything worth doing that could justify spending more than the already committed $80.84 million.
Essentially, there are too many dollars already being paid to guys who aren’t playing in order for the team to take on any more salary to pay guys who will.
The only way to justify adding to the already astronomical payroll figure would be by adding a top-five NBA player to the roster. Since that level of talent is rarely available (and it wasn’t this past offseason, unless you count Howard), it’s no surprise that the Magic sat tight, content to rebuild through the draft at the team’s own pace.