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NBA AM: Magic’s Hunt For A New Executive Underway

The Orlando Magic begin their search for new leadership and some of the names floating around are interesting.

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It Is A Process

After five years and not much progress, last week, the Orlando Magic parted ways with general manager Rob Hennigan. In his place, the Magic named assistant general manager Matt Lloyd as acting and interim GM while the team started the process of finding new leadership.

Most of the details surrounding the decision have come out in the media with Magic CEO Alex Martins addressing the topic with newspaper and radio interviews. The gist of the decision was that after five years, the Magic were no further along than when the process started and that Hennigan and company failed to install the kind of culture and accountability the franchise believes is necessary to breed success.

The decision to name Lloyd interim GM was announced as a means to give the Magic time to thoroughly explore the available candidates, some of whom are currently running teams in the postseason. The Magic have reached out to a number of candidates and have something of a working short list, according to sources close to the process.

The Magic job is currently the only opening in the NBA, so it’s created something of a rumor mill of its own, as would-be candidates are trying to understand what’s real and what’s not. The timing was interesting too, as most of the NBA was in Portsmouth Virginia for the Annual Portsmouth Invitational tournament featuring college seniors that are eligible for the 2017 NBA Draft.

Here are some of the things being said about the opening and some of the names being mentioned.

Several weeks ago, Marc Stein of ESPN hinted that the Magic would not only fire Hennigan, but that current Detroit Pistons assistant general manager Pat Garrity might be a favorite to take the spot. That storyline continued last week, with several league executives saying his name was the one that has been mentioned the most in front office circles. It seemed the report on Garrity as a serious candidate was accurate. The belief is the Magic are looking for a president of basketball operations–type of leader and that Garrity could be tapped as the day-to-day GM in that scenario.

The idea of the Magic hiring a proven franchise leader lines up with some of the other names mentioned as well.

There has been talk of Warriors executive Bob Myers, however, the Warriors and Myers extended his contract last summer, increasing his pay and adding more responsibility to his job function. Sources peg poaching Myers from the Warriors as the longest of long shots but admitted that Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk is on the radar and will likely be interviewed.

There has been talk of something of a Frank Vogel reunion with former Pacer executive David Morway being linked to the Magic. Morway was last with the Milwaukee Bucks before exploring the Sacramento Kings front office. It’s believed Morway was well on his way to being the Kings president before the team shifted course and went with Vlade Divac. Morway is a long-time veteran executive, which suits the Magic’s desire for a top-down leader.

Current Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard was also mentioned by league sources in much the same way as Morway. Pritchard is well-thought of in Indiana and does have a history with Vogel. The Magic remain committed to Vogel as their head coach and pairing new leadership to him wouldn’t be the worst decision for a team that’s had a real disconnect between the front office and the coaching staff.

There have been a couple of other higher profile names linked to the Magic that would fit the “need to wait” scenario and those include Toronto general manager Jeff Weltman, Cleveland’s David Griffin (who is in the final year of his contract) and long-time Rockets executive Gersson Rosas.

It’s unclear how serious any of these names are as candidates, especially considering the Cavs will likely do a new deal for Griffin after the season ends and that both Rosas and Weltman are fairly entrenched in their current roles.

There has been a lot of talk about current Clippers president Doc Rivers making a return to Orlando, where he still maintains his off-season home. However, sources close to that situation said that Rivers addressed the rumors with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer back in March and pledged to stay in his current deal, a deal that pays him north of $11 million per year to skipper the Clippers as coach and team president.

There is always the chance that an ugly or early exit from the postseason could change everything with the Clippers, but the prevailing belief is that nothing is expected to change in L.A.

The narrative on Rivers and the Magic is that the Rivers reunion many of whispered about has more to do with an eventual sale of the Magic at some point in the future, something Rivers apparently has more than a passing interest in, when and if the team is ever put up for sale.

The Magic have set no timeline for hiring their next leader. However, there is a belief that the Magic would like to have something in place well in advance of the 2017 NBA Draft and that some of the work on that front has already taken place.

The 2017 NBA Draft Combine gets underway in Chicago on May 9. Ideally, that is the first real draft event of the season and a likely milestone in the process. Individual workouts and pro-days usually get underway after the Combine, so having a leader in place by May 9 makes the most sense, but is not considered a deal breaker for the right candidate.

The Magic finished the season at 29-53 which was the fifth-worst record in the NBA and gives the team an 8.8 percent chance at landing the top overall pick and a 26.1 percent chance of staying in the fifth spot.

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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Bulls’ guard Zach LaVine desires respect for new contract

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According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine wants the respect he deserves for his contract extension. On Monday morning before Team USA’s practice to prepare for Tuesday’s match against Spain, the 26-year-old guard said to reporters, “I just want my respect, that’s the main thing. I outplayed my contract. I’ve been very loyal to Chicago. I like Chicago. I just want my respect. If that’s now or later, it’s something we’ve got to work out internally.” In the 2020-21 season, in 58 games played, LaVine averaged 27.4 points, five rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. He also shot 50.7 percent from the field and was selected to his first NBA All-Star Game.

Regarding the “outplayed my contract” comment, his argument his fair. Last season, with 200 three-point field goals made, he ranked ninth overall in the league. Despite the Bulls finishing 31-41 (.431) last season, he led the team in points and assists. Per ESPN, they are also reporting that Chicago is trying to work out a four-year, $105 million contract extension for their star guard. Though, this deal is expected to fall below his market value. In terms of signing available free agents this offseason, some Bulls fans are speculating the organization will pursue either Knicks’ shooting guard/small forward Reggie Bullock, Lakers’ power forward/center Markieff Morris or Pelicans’ point guard Lonzo Ball.

On July 13, 2018, the 2014 13th pick of the draft signed a four-year, $78 million contract with the Bulls. LaVine earned $19,500,000 last season, and he is set to earn $19,500,000 in the upcoming season. It is not urgent for Chicago to extend LaVine’s contract this offseason. The organization will have the full rights to re-sign him to a new deal for next season in 2022.

However, the guard will also become an unrestricted free agent next year, so the Bulls should work towards fixing their salary cap issues right now. Referencing Spotrac, center Nikola Vucevic has a cap figure of $24 million. Of this amount, his future guaranteed cash is $22 million. One notable 2021-22 cap hold is Lauri Markkanen. His qualifying offer is $9,026,952, and his cap figure is $20,194,524. On March 2, 2020, Markkanen was recalled from the Windy City Bulls of the G League.

Furthermore, on March 25, 2021, center Nikola Vucevic and forward Al-Farouq Aminu were traded by the Orlando Magic to the Bulls in exchange for Otto Porter, Wendell Carter Jr., a 2021 first-round pick and a 2023 first-round pick. This is quite the gamble for the Bulls organization, considering they traded away two future first-round picks. Vucevic is set to earn $24 million for the 2021-22 season. Chicago has $56,679,846 available in cap space. Their current luxury tax space is $29,405746.

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Rockets decline Avery Bradley’s $5.9 million team option

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First reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Houston Rockets are declining Avery Bradley’s team option for the 2021-22 NBA season. On November 23, 2020, the 30-year-old guard signed as a free agent with the Miami Heat. He signed a two-year, $11.6 million deal. On March 25, 2021, the Heat traded Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and a 2022 first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for two-time NBA All-Star guard Victor Oladipo. The 2022 first-round pick is an option to trade for a potential Heat or Nets pick. Plus, Houston received a trade exception, too.

Moreover, Bradley earned $5,635,000 this previous season; the Rockets declined his 2021-22 team option of $5,916,750 for next season. In other words, both sides have mutually agreed to part ways, so the six-foot-three guard is now an unrestricted free agent. In early February, it was first reported that the Washington native would miss three to four weeks due to a calf strain. Before this injury, he averaged 8.5 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game for Miami. Furthermore, he also shot a career-high percentage of 42.1 percent from behind the arc last season.

Though, Bradley disappointed both of his teams last season, leading to the Rockets finishing 17-55 (.236), ranking 15th overall in the Western Conference. Last season was the first time since the 1982-83 season that Houston failed to win at least 20 games. Since the 2011-12 season, it was the first time the Rockets had failed to qualify for the playoffs. In only 27 games played, the 11-year NBA veteran averaged 6.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He shot 37.4 percent from the field as well.

Likewise, the Miami Heat finished 40-32 (.556) last season, regressing from the team’s 44-29 (.603) record and sixth NBA Finals appearance from the 2019-20 season. Fans across social media are already speculating that the 2010 19th overall pick will end up playing for the Los Angeles Lakers next season. If this happens, he would join the team’s newly established big three: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook.

After Bradley signed with the Lakers for the 2019-20 season, he joined the list of players in the league’s history who played for both the Celtics and Lakers. The list includes Brian Shaw, Clyde Lovellette, Mel Counts, Rick Fox, Don Nelson, Bob McAdoo, Isaiah Thomas, Charlie Scott, Gary Payton, Shaquille O’Neal and Rajon Rondo. According to Bleacher Report, the Lakers are also interested in signing Carmelo Anthony this offseason.

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Mavericks will pick up Willie Cauley-Stein’s $4.1 million option

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Per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the Dallas Mavericks are planning to pick up center Willie Cauley-Stein’s $4.1 million option for the 2021-22 NBA season. The deadline is tomorrow. Last season, in 53 games played, the seven-foot big man averaged 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. The sixth-year player also shot 63.2 percent from the field last season.

On July 8, 2019, Cauley-Stein signed a two-year, $4.46 million contract with the Golden State Warriors. Then, on January 25, 2020, Cauley-Stein was traded to the Mavericks for a 2020 second-round pick. If everything goes smoothly, the 27-year-old center is set to earn $4.1 million next season. The 2015 sixth overall pick’s contract consumes less than three percent of the team’s total salary cap.

This news comes right after Dallas received center Moses Brown from the Boston Celtics. Brown is a seven-foot-two, 2019 undrafted player out of UCLA. In 2021, Brown was named to the All-NBA G League First Team and All-Defensive Team. On March 28, 2021, the 21-year-old center signed a four-year, $6.8 million contract with the Thunder.

However, on June 18, 2021, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Brown, Al Horford, and a 2023 second-round pick to the Celtics for Kemba Walker, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2025 second-round pick. With Boston, Brown was set to earn $1,701,593 next season. Of course, the Mavs organization is finalizing a trade to send Josh Richardson to the Celtics as well. In other news, today is Mavs owner Mark Cuban’s 63rd birthday.

Referencing Spotrac’s 2021-22 luxury tax totals, the Mavs’ current luxury tax space is $52,326,531. The 2021 NBA salary cap maximum is $112,414,000. Their current cap space is $27,595,632. Cauley-Stein’s contract is recognized as a club option, not a player option or guaranteed money. Richardson’s deadline is also tomorrow, so because he is getting traded to Boston, the team will not collect his $11,615,328 player option.

Plus, Jalen Brunson’s deadline is also August 1st. His guaranteed value is $1,802,057. Leading into the 2021-22 season, Kristaps Porzingis has the highest cap figure on the team, which is an amount worth $31,650,600, consuming 22.73 percent of the team’s total salary cap. At the moment, Porzingis is a popular name in trade rumor articles. Bettors and NBA analysts are predicting a possible trade to the Brooklyn Nets, Sacramento Kings or Philadelphia 76ers.

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