The Magic have shuffled backup centers this summer – signing Jason Smith and signing-and-trading Kyle O’Quinn to the Knicks.
They’ll keep a little stability behind Nikola Vucevic in Dewayne Dedmon.
Dedmon’s 2015-16 minimum salary was fully unguaranteed if not waived by Saturday. Orlando let that deadline pass, fully guaranteeing Dedmon’s salary, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.
Dedmon is big (7-foot, 245 pounds), and he plays like it. He blocks shots, pulls in rebounds and fouls a ton. He’s underdeveloped offensively, but his size allows him to contribute.
He spent most of last season in the Magic’s rotation, even starting 15 games. Orlando should aim for Dedmon to improve or for him to see a smaller role this year.
The window for Dedmon to hit the next level is slowly closing, though it’s more open than it would be for the typical player who turns 26 next week. Dedmon didn’t begin playing basketball until late in high school, indicating he could blossom a little later, too.
He has already proven himself worth a minimum contract to provide center depth. The chance he improves made this an easy call for the Magic.
A contingent of current and former NBA players have spent the past week in Johannesburg, South Africa as part of the league’s annual Basketball Without Borders clinic. But this year’s edition of the event is special in that it includes the NBA’s first-ever officially sanctioned exhibition game on the content of Africa. The game features a team of African NBA players including Luol Deng, Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo against “Team World,” which features the likes of Chris Paul, Bradley Beal, Marcus Smart and the Gasol brothers.
Fans in South Africa got an extra surprise during the game on Saturday: two of the most legendary African players in NBA history, and two of the most important ambassadors for the sport in Africa, suited up along with the current players. Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon and second all-time leading shot-blocker Dikembe Mutombo checked into the game in throwback Rockets and Nuggets jerseys, respectively:
Olajuwon scored on the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic using his patented “Dream Shake”:
And Mutombo got a stop against the Jazz’ Trey Burke:
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said this week that it’s only a matter of time until the NBA plays a regular-season game in Africa. This exhibition game is just the first step in that direction. But it was cool to see two legends in action alongside current players helping to grow the sport all over the world.
Aaron Gordon was the standout player of the Orlando Summer League a couple weeks back, averaging 21.7 points and 11.7 rebounds a game (both tops in the entire league). He also shot 50 percent from three.
However, his summer workouts have been put on hiatus for a few weeks after surgery to repair a fractured jaw, the team announced Friday. He is expected to be back and ready to play by the start of the NBA season, although no official timetable was announced.
How did it happen? From the official release:
Gordon, 19 and the second-youngest player in the NBA this past NBA season, was injured while visiting with family and horsing around with older brother, Drew. The native of San Jose, Calif. underwent surgery in California earlier this week.
Drew played part of last season with Philadephia.
Gordon is part of a promising young core that could make the Magic a team on the rise in the East next season. They have Elfrid Payton at the point, Victor Oladipo at the two, Tobias Harris at the three, Gordon at the four, and Nikola Vucevic at center, with guys like Channing Frye and Mario Hezonja off the bench. If Gordon can make the leap in the fall that he showed in the summer — and if he can stay healthy when around his family — he will be a big part of that future.