The Orlando Magic are coming up against the deadline to extend Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton. If the Magic do not reach a deal with Gordon and/or Payton, they will become restricted free agents next summer. Orlando should not let that happen.
The new front office of Jeff Weltman and John Hammond have made it clear how they want to build this team. They want to evaluate the current Orlando Magic roster this season before making major decisions on how to proceed long term. This might explain the many one-year deals that were signed this off-season to fill out the roster.
Going through this season with a bunch of guys in the final year of their contract keeps the team flexible for the future. If it doesn’t work out this season the Magic can essentially start from scratch. Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton are two of the players in the last year of their contract with the Orlando Magic. Both Gordon and Payton were lottery picks expected to be the core of this franchise for the foreseeable future. Neither has hit their full potential, and it’s not all their fault.
Both players have shown flashes of brilliance and the potential to be a cornerstone of the franchise like they were drafted to be. The brilliance just has not been consistent. Weltman and Hammond would love to get a full season of brilliance before tieing the Magic to Gordon and Payton long term. But getting them both under contract before the season starts could be a great move for the Orlando Magic.
Nothing but Positives
The Orlando Magic have the power to give Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton a contract extension prior to the season starting. Seeing how this past offseason played out for some restricted free agents, the Magic have leverage. Look at Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Johnathon Simmons or Nerlens Noel to name a few. All of these players had pretty good seasons and thought that their value would be worth much more than they ultimately signed for.
Orlando can use that narrative to persuade Gordon and Payton to sign now to secure their finances. Weltman and Hammond have made some great deals financially for the Magic. Locking up Gordon and Payton on reasonable extensions would be their best deals yet. If either player has a breakout year, having them for non-superstar money is a plus. On the other side of that, if they have a similar season like they have previously, the contract isn’t bad.
Not getting it done
Some believe that Aaron Gordon has All-Star potential. If the Magic were to sign him to an extension at a reasonable price his trade value would be amazing. The Magic cannot allow Gordon or Payton to go into this season as restricted free agents and risk them actually reaching their potential. Unlike the players mentioned above, there were also players who got overpaid(see Otto Porter).
Payton and Gordon have been the core of the Magic for the past three seasons. Having them make that leap into leaders of the team without being under contract would put Orlando in a pickle. Let’s say the team outperforms expectation and makes the playoffs. Gordon and Payton will more than likely play large roles in the team’s success. The Orlando Magic would have no choice other than to match any offers for Payton and Gordon. That would definitely clog up cap space and make the team less flexible or able to go after other free agents.
There are no negatives to signing Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton to extensions before the season starts. Having the financial discussions out of the way stops them from coming up in interviews. It allows Gordon and Payton to focus on basketball and know that the organization wants them to stay. Having that stability will be a key for the Orlando Magic going forward.