There’s no doubting that Orlando could use some improvements on their 23-59 roster. While there’s several key areas that could use some overhauls, power forward might be the most glaring need.
Looking at their power forwards in 2013-14, they invested a lot of minutes into St. Bonaventure’s Andrew Nicholson in his rookie season, in which he averaged 7.8 points and 3.4 rebounds. In his sophomore campaign, Nicholson managed to regress in the course of one year. He fell down to 5.4 points, and failed to improve his rebounding, which hung at 3.4. With a 9.90 PER, he failed to be a contributor to Orlando’s roster, and it might be time to head in a different direction.
Maybe a Spanish direction might be for the best.
That’s right, former All-Star and Lakers big man Pau Gasol is hitting this market, and while Los Angeles is on the verge of a rebuilding era, the big Spaniard may be on his way out. Now, this is all assuming that Gasol doesn’t return to the Lakers, the team he’s spent the past seven years with.
In the past season, Gasol averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds starting for the banged up Lakers squad. For a 33-year old 7-footer, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better veteran. This season was a bounce-back year for Gasol, who he put up only 13.7 points and 8.6 rebounds in 2012-13. The statistics speak for themselves, Pau is still one of the most dominant centers in the league, and if Los Angeles and the big man decide to part ways, he could be a highly sought after free agent.
That’s where Orlando could step in. Orlando has about $42 million of salary cap this offseason (salary information via HoopsHype.com), but that’s without the team options of Jameer Nelson, Jason Maxiell, Kyle O’Quinn, and Doron Lamb factored in. Saying all four are re-signed, the Magic could still have enough money to go after Gasol. At the age of 33, this is most likely going to be his last big contract, and he’s going to be looking to cash in. Luckily for Orlando, they can accommodate those needs. The only thing that could be holding back the signing is the fact that Orlando aren’t exactly a contending team.
Looking at their roster however, bringing in Gasol could make them contenders. A young, talented roster with Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo, Arron Afflalo, and Tobias Harris could benefit mightily from the talented Gasol. Don’t believe one player could turn a team into contenders? Look no further than Al Jefferson and the Charlotte Bobcats. After signing with Charlotte in the past offseason, he helped leas the Cats to their second franchise postseason appearance. Despite being bounced in the first round, it was a successful season in the eyes of many, and Pau could do the same for the Magic.
Some may say that bringing in an aging veteran to an otherwise young team might be the wrong move, but I say it could be exactly what the Magic need to return to the team they were when Dwight Howard patrolled the paint.