The Orlando Magic finally made two free-agent signings, but then waived their only healthy player last year, leaving them with one last spot.
Over the weekend, the Orlando Magic made their first “splash” in free agency. After playing 11 games with Orlando last year, Moritz Wagner will be joining his brother, Franz. The Magic decided to bring back the stretch-four for two more seasons. On 26 minutes a night, Wagner averaged 11 ppg and 4.9 rpg but he lacked efficiency. However, the Orlando Magic could have done this signing to simply ease Franz’s transition into the NBA.
This is not to downplay Mo’s abilities, but rather to improve the life of their new rookie. Furthermore, the Magic reassured this possibility by adding another, more experienced big man. Robin Lopez has been an integral part of team’s benches for over a decade now. While his actual, on-the-court production may not be tremendous, his value in the locker room is great. Robin is well-known around the association for two big reasons. First, he has a long, dreadful history of fighting mascots. Secondly, he has an identical twin, Brook, also in the NBA.
However, I offer up a third asset Robin Lopez brings to the Orlando Magic. The best hook shot in the NBA. This sounds bold on the surface, but it is honestly a no-doubter. He is one of the very few NBA bigs that still utilize traditional post moves. And he is quite good at them too. While his 9 ppg and 3.8 rpg do not jump off the page, his field goal percentage does. Of those averaging at least 19 minutes per game, Robin ranks 8th best in field goal percentage.
Robin Lopez will provide the Magic some much-needed frontcourt depth. Mo Bamba has played limited minutes throughout his career and is quite susceptible to injury. While Mo Wagner did have better numbers than Robin, he was playing more minutes on a worse team. Additionally, Robin can teach the Magic’s young frontcourt a lot about the art of the big man. He will act as quality insurance for injury, foul trouble, or even the possible mid-season trade.
The Orlando Magic Move on From Dwayne Bacon
While Dwayne Bacon is no superstar, he was one of the few healthy players in Orlando last year. Bacon was the lone player to appear in all 72 games last year. However, he did perform well enough to retain his $1.8 million, non-guaranteed, salary. In 25.7 mpg, Bacon averaged a mediocre 10.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, and 1.3 apg. Bacon’s shooting splits were quite bad though. He shot just 40.2% from the field and a disappointing 28.5% from deep.
This move should not come as much of a surprise because of the Magic’s youthful depth at the guard position. After drafting Jalen Suggs, Orlando needed to clear some veteran guards to make room for all their young guns. Bacon’s role last year was immense and will not be forgotten, but retaining him would not have made much sense.
By waiving Bacon, though, the Orlando Magic have reduced their roster back down to 14 players. Therefore, they hold one final roster spot for the 2021-2022 NBA season. It has been rumored this spot will not be filled, though. The Magic do still have their two-way player spots available, but these will likely be filled following the Summer League’s conclusion.
Despite the Magic not making any marquee signings, they did bolster their depth for cheap. Lopez signed a one-year, $5 million dollar contract, while the details on Wagner’s deal are still unsure. With Bomba’s injury history, as well as Isaac returning from a brutal knee injury, the Magic needed some insurance in the post. And these two additions did just that. The Orlando Magic may not be overly successful this season, but they are on the right path to do so in the future.
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