At a time when the Orlando Magic have stockpiled youth on their roster, the team made a move Thursday to shift toward a more experienced direction, signing veteran free-agent big man Jason Maxiell.
Maxiell, 30, will compete for the team’s backup center job, and he will give the team some added depth at power forward, where the team already has a logjam of players.
“Jason brings an element of experience, toughness and resolve to our roster that we feel will benefit our team,” Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said in a statement released by the team.
The Magic and Maxiell agreed to a two-year deal worth a total of $5 million.
But the second year of his deal should not hamper team officials if they attempt to become major players in the 2014 free-agent market. Maxiell’s salary of about $2.5 million for the second season is fully unguaranteed and will become guaranteed only if he remains on the Magic roster beyond the middle of next July.
Maxiell has spent his entire eight-year NBA career with the Detroit Pistons.
Magic assistant general manager Scott Perry knows Maxiell well. Perry worked for the Pistons in two separate stints, first as a college scout and director of player personnel and later as the team’s vice president of basketball operations.
Perry recommended Maxiell highly, but Maxiell already has a reputation throughout the league as a hard-nosed, blue-collar player.
Maxiell is listed as 6-feet-7 and 260 pounds, but he actually is a bit shorter.
He still averaged 6.1 points and 4.4 rebounds in almost 19 minutes per game during his Pistons tenure.
Last season, he started 71 games, averaging 6.9 points and 5.7 rebounds, before he underwent surgery to repair a detached retina.
From the Pistons’ perspective, Maxiell was expendable because of the emergence of former first-round draft picks Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
From the Magic’s perspective, the most interesting questions revolve around how Maxiell’s signing will impact the team’s other big men.
Maxiell’s presence gives the team some insurance as Glen Davis recovers from surgery on July 8 to replace a screw in his left foot’s fifth metatarsal, which Davis fractured on Jan. 30.
Team officials expect Davis to recover fully from his recent surgery, but it’s unclear when, exactly, Davis will return to the court. Davis could be ready to play in time for the season-opener, but having Maxiell in the fold will make it easier for the team to proceed cautiously with Davis.
Third-year player Tobias Harris and second-year players Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn also will figure into the mix at power forward and likely will compete for minutes with each other, Davis and Maxiell.
Harris figures to have an edge over Nicholson and O’Quinn in the competition for playing time. But at 6-feet-8, it’s unclear what Harris’ long-term spot on the floor will be. He might not be big enough to be a full-time power forward and might not be quick enough to defend opposing small forwards.
The Magic are expected to reduce their logjam at the forward spots in the weeks ahead. The team is expected to buy-out the contracts of power forward Al Harrington and small forward Hedo Turkoglu or waive Harrington and Turkoglu outright.
Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun