By trading Tobias Harris and Channing Frye this week, the Magic cleared an extra $23,556,785 in cap room for next summer. Orlando – if it waives Ersan Ilyasova ($400,000 guaranteed), extends Evan Fournier a qualifying offer and renounces its other free agents – projects to have $45 million to $50 million in cap space.
How will the Magic spend that money?
Maybe on Al Horford.
a source told Sporting News that the Magic will have an interest in Hawks big man Al Horford — and the interest would be mutual.
If the Magic sign Horford, who played at the University of Florida, this plan would look great. He’s the type of star who could help transform this young and talented team into a real winner. Horford, whose max projects around $25 million, could even help lure a second star to take the rest of the cap space.
But this is a bad summer to go this route.
Most teams will have max-level cap space. Orlando will be competing with much more successful teams for free agents – including the Hawks, who can offer Horford a fifth year and larger raises.
This free-agent class also thins in a hurry. Kevin Durant is the big name. LeBron James and Andre Drummond (restricted) almost certainly aren’t going anywhere. Pau Gasol, Dwyane Wade, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki are too old for Orlando to rely on long enough, and the latter three are too entrenched with their current teams. Dwight Howard probably isn’t returning to the Magic.
So, barring a miracle run at Durant, Orlando is chasing: Horford, Mike Conley, DeMar DeRozan, Bradley Beal (restricted), Nicolas Batum, Hassan Whiteside, Chandler Parsons and Harrison Barnes (restricted). But so are many other teams. Strike out with that group – a distinct possibility – and it goes downhill fast.
The Magic are taking a calculated risk, but the emphasis is on risk. They better hope Horford’s interest is sincere – and rises to the level of actually signing.