The Orlando Magic are taking on the visiting New Orleans Hornets for Wednesday night. The Magic will see a familiar face in the New Orleans Hornets’ power forward, Ryan Anderson. Anderson played for the Magic last season and won the Most Improved Player award. But in a dramatic overhaul, the Magic chose not to keep Anderson. Why not?
“Some people have the crazy idea that I wanted the trade and I wanted out of there, and that’s not necessarily how it went down,” Anderson said from Louisiana in a phone interview. “It’s a game, and I understand it and I am glad that I’m here. But I just want people to know that I wasn’t turning my back on the team or anything.
“The thing is,” he added, “Orlando didn’t even make a move at me. So it was a situation where every other team we spoke with thought that Orlando was going to match, and the only team that was willing to take that risk was New Orleans. It was just a real different situation.”
It was basically about cap space. General Manager Rob Hennigan wanted cap space to make a run at free agent superstars after the 2013-14 season. So it was more about making a long-term decision for Hennigan rather than the short-term. Anderson was traded to New Orleans in a sign-and-trade deal that brought Gustavo Ayon to Orlando.
They did re-sign Jameer Nelson to a three-year deal in the offseason but the last year of his contract is only guaranteed $2 million so they can choose to let him go after the second year to create more cap space.
Anderson, as mentioned, won Most Improved Player last season. He’s gotten even better in scoring this season, averaging 17.8 points per game. Anderson still averages a tidy 6.9 boards per contest but he’s having career highs in shooting (.443) and three-point percentage (.404). He also leads the league in three-point field goals made and attempted.
So you can say it worked for both teams. While the Hornets are 5-22, they’re setting up a nice core for the future and should be able to get a high pick in next year’s draft. The Magic are a surprising 12-15 but they’re also getting some of their long-term goals done.