The Magic’s cap sheet is so clean, they could sign Ben Gordon for $9 million, and anyone who criticized the offer – raises hand – had to admit the griping was likely only theoretical.
Orlando has so little money committed, it’s very unlikely Gordon’s salary interferes with other moves.
Channing Frye is the only player the Magic are committed to paying more than a rookie-scale contract in 2015-16.
But as its young players play out their first deals, Orlando is going to have to spend more soon to keep everyone together. Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris are eligible for extensions now, and at least Harris wants to stick with the Magic.
"Obviously, I want to be here. … I love the fans, the city of Orlando and the guys. Management knows I want to be here. It’s the perfect situation for me," Harris said
Does Harris possibly see the Magic letting him become a restricted free agent?
"I don’t know. That’s up to them," he said.
If the Magic don’t extend Harris by the Oct. 31 deadline, he’d become a restricted free agent next summer. As Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons showed, that can be very risky for the incumbent team.
But a fourth year can be very illuminating for a team, and Orlando would probably be smart to let Harris show more before offering a nice, mid-sized deal – unless he’s willing to take less in order to gain security, which is unlikely.
Harris is a nice, all-around player, but the forward has one glaring concern – 3-point shooting. He regressed to make just 32-of-126 3-points last season, a career-low 25 percent. If his jumper isn’t falling, that makes it more difficult for him to showcase all his other skills. Frankly, Harris, who lacks eye-popping athleticism, has a much lower ceiling if his jumper doesn’t develop.
That said, Harris can take another year to improve from beyond the arc. If he does, he’ll get paid well next summer. If he doesn’t, his options won’t dry up, though injury is always a risk.
Both sides should keep talking until Halloween, but I’d guess Harris is heading toward restricted free agency a year from now. Then, he can decide how perfect the situation in Orlando is for him.