The Orlando Magic have been doing a quiet and steady job of rebuilding after Dwight Howard left leading into the 2012-13 NBA season. With young assets like Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, and Victor Oladipo in tow and with the additions of Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon from the draft, this team has a ton of young talent to build around and grow with.
One of the aspects of the league that’s been proven on a number of occasions, though, is that youth can develop best when it has veteran leadership to help guide it along. As a result, you had to expect that the Magic would make plays in free agency for veteran players. On Wednesday, they landed one when they agreed to a two-year, $9 million deal with veteran wing Ben Gordon.
In his first five seasons in the league with the Chicago Bulls, Gordon looked like a star-in-the-making, averaging over 20 points per game twice and shooting over 40 percent from three in all five seasons. However, once he signed a massive contract with the Detroit Pistons in 2009, things started to deteriorate with Gordon. When he was traded to the Charlotte Hornets (then Bobcats) in 2012, the free-fall continued to the point that he played in just 19 games last season, averaging a meager 5.2 points per game on 34.3 percent shooting from the floor.
While the Magic may have the right idea in adding veterans that can help cultivate the youngsters on their roster and can possibly also contribute, Gordon’s not the guy to make that happen. In the past two seasons with Charlotte, he’s been two-steps slower on both ends of the floor, has shown zero confidence, and has looked like player who’s lucky to be playing in the NBA next year. That’s not exactly the guy Orlando should’ve been looking for.
Beyond the simple fact that Gordon doesn’t seem to have anything left in the tank and won’t be able to contribute much to the Magic’s cause, the fact that they are paying him $9 million over two years is absurd. Perhaps the organization is trying to add cap-filler, but there are plenty of better ways to spend that kind of money on the free agency market.
While quality shooting guards are at a premium in this league which allows players like Jodie Meeks or C.J. Miles to land relatively big deals, those players can also contribute. Nothing that Gordon has shown in recent years indicates that he can do that. The Magic’s supposed logic in all of this is understandable, but their execution of that logic seems pretty awful now and could wind up being horrific. Unless Gordon has a way to transport back to 2007, it’s hard to imagine how they viewed this move as wise.