Being waived by a team can be a crushing moment.
But it wasn’t traumatic for Al Harrington.
In a long-awaited move to save money and free up playing time for their young players, the Orlando Magic waived the veteran forward on Friday afternoon.
Harrington will become a free agent if no team claims him by Sunday afternoon.
“I think to accomplish what I’m trying to accomplish, proving that I can still play and help, I’ve got to go to a situation where I’m going to play,” Harrington said in a phone interview Friday night.
“I don’t mind competing for minutes, but I at least need to know that I’ll at least have an opportunity to play. And I really want to win. I want to play on a team that’s playoff-ready, playoff-bound, and we can go out and try to shock the world.”
Harrington, 33, didn’t fit into the rebuilding Magic’s long-range plans.
On his current contract, about $3.57 million of his $7.15 million salary for the upcoming season is guaranteed, while $3.8 million of his $7.6 million salary for the 2014-15 season is guaranteed.
The Magic did not reach a buyout agreement with him.
So, when he clears waivers, the Magic will be obligated to pay only the guaranteed amounts, minus what is known as a “setoff” figure of about $300,000 in each season if Harrington signs with a team for the veteran’s minimum.
Only the guaranteed amounts, with the setoff figure subtracted, will count toward the Magic’s salary-cap totals for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.
The Magic now have 14 players under contract for the upcoming season, a total that doesn't include second-round draft pick Romero Osby.
The Magic acquired Harrington, Arron Afflalo, Maurice Harkless, Nik Vucevic, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga and future draft picks in last August’s four-team, 12-player trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.
At the time, Harrington was recovering from a staph infection in his right knee, and he didn't make his Magic debut until late February. He appeared in a total of 10 games and averaged 5.1 points and 2.7 rebounds in 11.9 minutes per game.
Harrington, who was required to wear a knee brace, never quite felt comfortable.
“That brace, it slowed me down,” he said. “It made me look bad. I had never played with a brace or anything like that.”
Magic officials chose not to play Harrington during the season’s final weeks in order to allocate playing time to their young players.
Harrington expected the Magic to waive him this offseason.
When he becomes a free agent, he could draw some interest from contending teams that want a 6-foot-9 forward who can stretch the court and provide veteran leadership.
Harrington, who thanked Magic fans and coaches and training staff over his Instagram account Friday, said he has been working out five or six days a week since late April and has lost about 30 pounds.
On Friday, Harrington played in a pickup game alongside Portland Trail Blazers wing Wesley Matthews, and Harrington recalled that Matthews told him, “I haven’t seen you play like that since you played for the Knicks.”
In the year ahead, Harrington will have a chance to prove it.
“I’m only 33,” Harrington said. “It just fuels me to work. When you guys get a chance to see me, you’re going to be surprised. I’ve been putting in the work.”
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