Forgive yours truly for not ploughing through my keyboard during the mayhem Earth has been subjected to since the first seconds of July via the NBA free agency. Long story in summary, there is more money than ever flowing in the greatest basketball league in the world. Money is gas and all of the NBA’s thirty teams have grabbed the cash with both hands and are still making a laughing stock out of other big sports franchises in the world including, yes, including the English Premier League.

For starters, lone survivor of the dreadful 2000 Draft, Jamal Crawford will be paid $ 14 million yearly for the next 36 months as the most glamorous team in the league, Los Angeles Lakers is set to pay two 30 year old players a combined $34 million dollars a year for four straight years.

But neatly tucked away from the star laden deals being inked by the Grizzlies and New York Knicks alike, Orlando Magic has been quite busy picking up quality stuff in the market. It was only prior to July’s floodgates that Magic generated some kind of buzz in the news by trading for defensive stalwart Serge Ibaka. When the gates did open, Orlando has made some shrewd moves to break out of its’ miserable cocoon of missing the playoffs since Dwight Howard left for Tinsel town in 2011.

By trading for Congolese Ibaka, General Manager Rob Hennigan balances the equation somewhat on his team as the big man’s defensive chops will come in handy for Power Forward Nic Vucevic who struggles defensively. Comparing the latter to Cavaliers Forward Kevin Love wouldn’t be too farfetched as both bigs are offensive dynamos -Love throwing in a bit of variety with his ability to score from the three point arc- but wallow in mediocrity on the court’s opposite end.


Ibaka lining up with Vucevic in the frontcourt is a menacing lineup capable of bringing hope to a downtrodden club with nothing but two finals appearances to show for since its creation in 1989. The development of 2014 fourth pick Aaron Gordon last season is good news to management but that can’t mean the 20 year old springy defensive menace is ready for a spot in the starting lineup alongside Vucevic. However another year of grooming will do Orlando a lot of good knowing Ibaka has just a year on his contract to be a free agent where he can walk away to greener pastures. Many whiffed at Orlando for giving up Shooting Guard Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and 2016 11th pick Domantas Sabonis for a guy on an expiring contract but as simple as it sounds, balancing acts in the NBA is the surest way to reap success.


It pushed Boston Celtics into playoff contention as Coach Brad Stevens paired Isaiah Thomas with defensive juggernauts Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley. Dallas Mavericks fared even better as it won 2011’s NBA Championship by pairing defensive sieve Dirk Nowitzki with offensive malcontent Tyson Chandler. A backup plan is a must in a risky business environment like the NBA but for Orlando, is one which comes with a tinge of investment. Should Ibaka be in negotiation mood 12 months from now, Orlando need not worry as fellow African and new signee Bismarck Biyombo (four years $72 million)is a perfect Ibaka replica sans shooting range. Magic does not need any Magic from Biyombo, excuse my pun, all it needs is a consistent threat on the boards and around the basket.


Paying veteran D. J. Augustin seven million dollars a year is good money for a Point Guard behind Elfrid Payton and not forgetting trading a future draft pick for shooter Jodie Meeks; which is equally commendable. Magic, as far as Ibaka and Jeff Green’s signings – one year $15 million contract- go, are attempting a full on playoff push in the Eastern Conference but simultaneously clearing the path for young studs Mario Hezonja, Aaron Gordon and Payton to take over the reins. Things might go out of sync; say, Ibaka’s numbers plummet, Meeks re ups on his injury riddled 2015-2016 season and Biyombo proves to be thee flash in a pan coupled with variables that lay outside Florida and Orlando’s march up the conference ladder can get much harder.

Maybe picking up Seth Curry as an insurance policy at Shooting Guard can do a trick or two for Orlando with a wrist flick or do a “sankofa” to bring Arron Afflalo back, let the Magic continue.


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