Report: Magic close to trading Channing Frye to Clippers, unless Clippers send Lance Stephenson elsewhere

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Lance Stephenson is the Clippers’ best ticket to improvement.

Increasingly, it appears that will be because of his de facto $9 million expiring contract. (His team option for next season is a practical lock to be declined.)

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Channing Frye is a quality role player, and the stretch big would give the Clippers more versatility.

He’s a legitimate 3-point threat, unlike the Clippers’ rangiest big – Blake Griffin, who’s comfort zone extends only to mid-range. DeAndre Jordan and Cole Aldrich don’t even get that far. The Clippers have improved their spacing with Griffin sidelined by using small forwards at power forward, but Frye has the size to defend the post a little better.

Frye is a solid positional defender. But at 32, he lacks the athleticism to really excel on that end. The Clippers should be in position to limit his exposure there.

Likewise, Frye is at his best spotting up beyond the 3-point arc and waiting for teammates to find him. A team with Chris Paul and Griffin – one of the NBA’s best-passing bigs – should suffice. J.J. Redick zipping around screens and Jordan rolling to the rim would only draw more attention from Frye.

That’d be the ideal for the Clippers’ primary goal – a long playoff run. In the meantime, Frye could fill a bigger role with Griffin sidelined.

For the Magic, this would mostly be a salary dump. The deal would give Orlando an extra $7,134,897 in cap space next summer – the difference between Wilcox’s ($1,209,600) and Frye’s ($8,344,497) 2016-17 salaries.

C.J. Wilcox, the No. 28 pick in the 2014 draft, has played just 29 games in two years for the Clippers. He showed 3-and-D potential in college, but at age 25, he could use a change of scenery. He’s worth Orlando taking a flyer on. The second-rounder is another asset with at least a chance to provide value.

Lance Stephenson would be involved just to facilitate the trade with his salary. Orlando would obviously decline his team option in conjunction with waiving him.

Orlando acquired a better stretch big in Ersan Ilyasova earlier today in the Tobias Harris trade, another deal that increased the Magic’s 2016 cap space. They appear to be setting up to try a bigger move then.

Especially if they can make this deal with the Clippers.

The Cavaliers have a trade exception large enough to absorb Frye’s $8,193,029 salary. But doing so without sending out any salary would increase Cleveland’s impending luxury-tax bill by $35,947,181. That seems exhorinant for Frye, whose salary for next season would also complicate Cleveland’s financial picture.

This reads like Orlando trying to pressure the Clippers into getting the deal done.