Tuck: Orlando Magic Get Channing Frye(d)

The Orlando Magic have given a 31 year old big man who doesn’t rebound or defend a 4 year deal worth $32 million.  Channing Frye sat out all of the 2012 season with a heart condition and has career averages of 9.9 points and 5.2 rebounds.  His career earnings to this point has been just over $35 million so Orlando is giving him nearly a 33% raise on his last contract coming off an 11-5 season.

Compared to the Ben Gordon deal, Frye is a steal. That is setting the bar awfully low though. Of course, the Magic can get rid of Gordon after just one year too.

To be fair, here is what is okay about the Frye deal.

1. He can shoot.  A career 39% 3-point shooter.

2. The NBA salary cap is increasing, and players salaries will rise with it.

3. He is older, but shooting tends to hang on in spite of age, and he doesn’t need speed or movement to get off his shot.  He relies on others for that.

4. He can play center or power forward depending on the lineup and matchups.

5. Orlando has to get to the minimum salary somehow, and Frye’s deal, while not favorable, is still average enough to be a tradeable asset down the road.

That is the positive spin and will be a lot of what you read and hear.

As I stated in the beginning though, I think the Magic got Fryed in free agency with this one.

1. What is the point of signing a 31-year old big man who can’t defend and sticking him next to another big-man who can’t defend the rim either?  Is that the long-term plan?  The Magic will have to pay Vucevic next year if they intend to keep him.  Marcin Gortat just got a 5 year-$60 million deal keep in mind. Roy Hibbert got a 4 year-$58 million deal 2 seasons ago. In other words, he won’t come cheap.

2. 4-year deal for Frye. That put hims in the long-term plan.  A 2-year deal for more money would have made more sense than this. I don’t think rebuilding teams can give long-term deals to players who aren’t young and locked into the core.

3. Getting $10 million a year makes you one of the top 50 paid players in the NBA.  Frye is getting $8 million per year. Again, reminder he’s never made more than the $6.4 he did last season.

4. What does this mean for Tobias Harris?  Andrew Nicholson appears good as gone now.  And do any of the 3 make sense as a title contending front line next to Vucevic?

5. If the Magic are intent on making Aaron Gordon a small forward, then the answer at the 4 is above.  If Gordon is the answer at PF, or even Harris is then the Magic are making Frye an expensive 6th man at $8 million per year.  Keep in mind Jamal Crawford, a 2-time 6th man of the year, is coming off a season where he scored 18.6 ppg for the Clippers while making $5.45 million.

6. Frye isn’t going to get better.  There is no upside here, and you made him the highest paid player on the team and gave him 1/8 of the cap.  Chances are he won’t be one of your best 5 players in 2 years.

7. Overpaying for a specialist like Channing Frye is something a contender should have done, if it was to be done. Not sure how this makes sense for a team that could struggle to win 30 games next season coming off of 20 and 23 win seasons.

I just don’t get the big picture plan. Even if Elfrid Payton becomes Gary Payton and Victor Oladipo becomes James Harden and Aaron Gordon becomes Shawn Marion I’m having a hard time comprehending the money they’ve spent on Frye and Gordon while wisking away Afflalo and Nelson.  Why clog up your future cap when you’ll have to pay your core and you’ll be attempting to attract free agents to a potential winner?