The Orlando Magic obtained Ryan Anderson as a throw in on a trade that netted them Vince Carter back in the summer of 2009. It was one of those moves a GM could easily claim brilliance on, but we all realized in time that it was a pure stroke of luck on the part of former GM Otis Smith. Anderson had laced together a decent rookie year for a horrible Nets team, and showed a lot of promise, but the main purpose of the trade that sent Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston, and Tony Battie away was to bring in Carter, not Anderson.
Fast forward two years later, and Anderson is now receiving $8 Million per season as part of today’s sign and trade, and Vince Carter is playing for the vet’s minimum. Neither are even a part of the Magic, nor are any of the three players the Magic sent away with still a part of the Nets. Times change.
What hasn’t changed, not even with bringing in a new GM in the young Rob Hennigan, is the endless procession of horrible moves by the Orlando Magic. Anderson was awarded the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award last season after posting 16.1 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per night, while stroking down a league high 166 three point field goals at a 39% clip. We knew Anderson was going to get paid this off season, and he did, but what is perplexing is the manner in which it happened. Why was Anderson dealt for Gustavo Ayon?
To be sure, Ayon is not without his upside. He’s young, agile, a good athlete, and will be a very good role player in this league. But that’s the thing: Ryan Anderson is already far more than a good role player, and I can’t envision a scenario in which the Magic won’t regret this deal.
Anderson outplayed Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh on February 8th as the Magic won by 13 points in a crucial home game. Anderson scored 27 to Bosh’s 12, while also grabbing 11 rebounds to Bosh’s 9. It was just before the dawn of All-Star weekend, and it left a lot of Magic fans feeling slighted after Bosh was selected to the All Star team. Bosh outplayed Anderson in the following two meetings, but Bosh is a max contract guy, and Anderson was (at that point) a bargain, an unknown.
Now, Anderson will receive a 4 year $36 Million contract. The expectations just got real.
But what of the Magic? Where are they going to go with this move? Clearly, the team is about to undergo a major makeover. Dwight Howard is still on the brink of being traded, and Ayon is capable of playing a lot of time at center. Though Ayon is a rookie, he is a 27 years old, so his upside might not be a lot higher than his current level of play. His production was good per minute. Per-36, he averaged 10.6 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game, and 1.5 blocks per night, but Anderson easily could go on to be a 20-10 threat while leading the league in threes made every year. So, it just doesn’t add up.