Each NBA team’s greatest free agent signing in franchise history

Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors, Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors, Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Horace Grant, Orlando Magic
Horace Grant, Orlando Magic. (Credit: ALLSPORT USA/Allsport) /

Orlando Magic: Horace Grant, Power Forward (1994-99)

By the 1994 offseason, the Orlando Magic had established themselves as a team on the rise with one of the best futures in the league. Led by young superstars Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, along with valued contributors on the wing in Dennis Scott and Nick Anderson, they certainly had the centerpieces necessary to contend for a title.

However, the Magic were coming off a disappointing first-round sweep the previous season at the hands of the Indiana Pacers. Yes, the roster had talent, but that wouldn’t be enough. It would need the intangible contributions of a player with championship experience who could take them over the hump.

By that time, Horace Grant had asserted himself as a consistent interior power forward for the Chicago Bulls. In seven seasons in the Windy City, he averaged 12.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game and played a large role in Chicago’s three consecutive championships from 1991 to 1993.

Grant had risen to All-Star status upon the unexpected retirement of Michael Jordan, averaging 15.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game in the 1993-94 NBA season. He had expressed a want to play for the Magic, a dream that would come to fruition in the form of a six-year, $22.3 million contract.

His production offensively would take a hit, as is commonplace when playing next to such gifted teammates. Grant’s presence, however, would not go in vain. He averaged a double-double in the playoffs, helping Orlando to its first-ever appearance in the NBA Finals, where they would ultimately succumb to the Houston Rockets in four games.

As history would so painfully show, that Magic squad would never reach its full potential. They wouldn’t even make it back to the NBA Finals. Even so, they’ll still hold a special place in the hearts of fans everywhere. This was made possible in part due to the championship-caliber expertise Grant infused into Orlando to help elevate it to new heights.