Orlando was abuzz yesterday when all of the super-cool NBA “insiders” started reporting across cable television, the social media universe, and the blogosphere that the Orlando Magic had offered a contract to Atlanta Hawks free agent forward Paul Millsap. The Hawks had the right to match the offer, did so, and Millsap agreed to stay in Atlanta.
For many Magic fans, it was a sign that Magic GM Rob Hennigan is serious about spending money to improve the roster, especially since most reports believed the Magic offered Millsap $80M over four years. The cadre of curmudgeons spanning the citrus region took a moment yesterday away from worrying about I-4 and the heat to complain that $80M was too much to spend on a player they had never heard of. Luckily for them, Millsap decided to stay in Atlanta for a matching offer that ACTUALLY was three years, $58M.
In case you’re wondering, that’s the SAME amount of money that the New York Knicks have reportedly offered… Arron Afflalo. In the NBA free agent market of 2015, that’s the price a team has to pay for a moderately-talented player. Or a shot at a really good one if you’re a savvy GM like Hennigan.
The Millsap offer brings another “issue” to the forefront. Just like the Magic’s draft selections last week, the Millsap courting came as a complete surprise to the Central Florida sports braintrust. It’s clear that Rob Hennigan and the Magic have a plan that they are executing at a level of stealth that is the envy of other professional sports teams. There appear to be no credible “sources close to the Magic” prematurely leaking their moves – which is totally OK if you’re a fan.
If you need MORE proof, consider this: the signing of Mario Hezonja was generally welcomed with silence by all of the really “smart” local media types. Moments after the pick was announced, the questions began – who was Hezonja, would the Magic be able to buy out his contract, would Hezonja agree to sign, would Hezonja actually play in 2015. This afternoon, less than six days after being selected, Hezonja is signed, sealed, and delivered – ready to see action in the Samsung NBA Summer League 2015 here in the City Beautiful.
So don’t be surprised if the Magic have some more moves to make in the next few weeks. Hennigan promised at today’s press conference, “We’ll continue to be aggressive.” One thing is for sure, you can’t blame them for not trying. And make no mistake, with Magic anything is possible.