The Orlando Magic have a superstar on his way out in Dwight Howard, a mess of a roster left over from title runs with said superstar and options galore. GM Otis Smith has never been shy on the trigger. Now is not the time to start being modest in O-Town.
Here's a look at the Magic's salary cap levels over the past six seasons.
That Rashard Lewis contract set the ray for the luxury tax. Trading for Vince Carter and swapping him for expensive players like Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu ensured that the Magic remain in the top echelon of payrolls. Lewis was switched out for Gilbert Arenas, which seemed like a fun little gamble at the time.
Heading into free agency, the Magic have a cap figure of $77 million with the leaguewide team salary cap set at $58 million and the luxury tax line at $70 million. Dumping Gil's $19 million will put Orlando at the salary cap.
The Magic's free agents are:
Clark and Allen could both be out of the NBA next season. Richardson is drawing interest from stable teams chasing the title; he's more likely to end up in one of those cities (Chicago, Dallas) than back in Orlando,
Arenas is the biggest no-brainer amnesty candidate in the NBA; there's no point to waiting on a decision unless there's a sincere belief a team trading for Howard would take Arenas (instead of the somewhat cheaper, still useful Hedo Turkoglu) as the poisonous contract. (By trading away Gil and using amnesty on Hedo, the Magic would save some real money even though the cap impact would be identical.)
All else is on hold until a strategy to deal with Howard is ascertained. If Smith believes he can put another star on the roster and convince Howard to stay in 2012, Ryan Anderson becomes the team's best chip, along with J.J. Redick, Brandon Bass and Jameer Nelson.
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