ORLANDO — Virtually every move made by Rob Hennigan since taking over as general manager of the Magic two years ago has been about getting younger and cutting salaries. Within the past several weeks, he’s traded away last season’s leading scorer Arron Afflalo and waived veteran point guard Jameer Nelson.
That’s what makes them agreeing to a four-year, $34 million deal with free agent forward Channing Frye a bit of a head-scratcher.
On one hand, Frye’s long-range shooting ability should help space the floor and open things up for young talent such as Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Mo Harkless and Tobias Harris to attack the basket. But on the other, it would seem the Magic allowed a younger version of Frye to walk out the door two years ago when they didn’t match an offer by the Pelicans for restricted free agent Ryan Anderson.
The 31-year-old Frye, who sat out the entire 2012-13 season due to the diagnosis of an enlarged heart, played all 82 games in 2013-14, averaging 11.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in Phoenix while shooting 37 percent of his 3-point attempts. He’s a career 38.5 percent shooter behind the arc on his career.
Anderson, who suffered a back injury that limited him to just 22 games last season for the Pelicans, is just as good a shooter (38.6 percent on 3s for his career) and is generally regarded as a better rebounder.
Though the Magic at the time evidently viewed Anderson as just a one-trick pony, now there is a crying need for that trick after the departures of Afflalo and Nelson.
The contract that eventually sent Anderson to New Orleans in a sign-and-trade for Gustavo Ayon was worth $34 million over four years.
Thus, it’s almost the same money total that it took to sign Frye and now the Magic have sacrificed five years of youth in what should be the prime of Anderson’s career.
Speculation is that the Magic are now further along in their overall redo of a youth movement and want Frye to be a veteran presence in the lineup and the locker room.
In an interesting side note, Frye will be joining a team that includes his first cousin in Harris.
“As a kid, I used to watch all his games in college,” Harris told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. “I used to know all his stats. … So I followed him. It made me want to get in the NBA even more. He’s somebody I looked up to. I’ve always wanted to get to the NBA and be at that same level.”