Channing Frye won’t take his new contract with the Orlando Magic for granted.
In Sept. 2012, an echocardiogram during a routine preseason physical revealed a problem. A virus had caused his heart to enlarge, and the issue forced him to miss the entire 2012-13 season.
“When something’s taken away from you,” Frye said, “you just take a step back and you really appreciate it. It’s not so much a job. This is a blessing, an opportunity. Win or lose, I’m always going to have a smile on my face, because at any moment, this could be taken away.”
On Monday, Frye had something else to be thankful for: His four-year, $32 million contract with the Magic was finalized.
The 31-year-old power forward will be expected to help mentor Orlando’s legion of youngsters and stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting.
“First and foremost, his experience and what he’s able to add to the team from that perspective is very important to us,” Magic GM Rob Hennigan said. “He’s played in the league a long time. As we did a lot of research on him and got to know him, Channing’s someone who takes a lot of pride in leading.”
After he missed the 2012-13 season, Frye appeared in all 82 of the Phoenix Suns’ regular-season games in 2013-14.
He averaged 11.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, and he also sank 37.0 percent of his 3-point shots.
His long-range shooting helped open space and driving lanes for the Suns’ talented backcourt of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. With Frye on the court, Phoenix averaged 110.4 points per 100 possessions, according to the NBA’s statistical database. With Frye on the bench, Phoenix scored 102.5 points per 100 possessions.
Magic officials hope he can do the same thing with Orlando. They envision him opening space for youngsters such as Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon, Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless to attack the rim.
“I feel like what I do is I’m going to create space for guys that like to get to the rack,” Frye said.
“My rule is if you’re getting double-teamed then I need to make more shots.”
Frye’s new contract does not include any player options or team options.
He will be 34 years old when the contract expires after the 2017-18 season.
To be sure, his contract will cut into Orlando’s cap space, even though his contract is expected to begin with a $8,560,707 salary and drop by 4.5 percent each season after that.
But Magic officials viewed him as a critical complementary piece to the team’s young nucleus.
“I just think it gives us more versatility with how we want to play,” Hennigan said. “Certainly, his presence on the floor, I think, opens the floor by the very nature of him being out there.”
Frye has family on Orlando’s roster.
He and Harris are first cousins.
Last year, Frye’s Suns began the regular season expected to finish near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. Instead, Phoenix compiled a 48-34 record.
“I’m extremely excited,” Frye said. “I like being an underdog. I think being in Phoenix, we’d never get any respect. For me to be here, I think it’s a great opportunity. I don’t listen to what anybody says about what we’re going to be next year or what our record might be, because most of the time they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
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.