The Orlando Magic have reached a deal to trade veteran shooting guard Arron Afflalo to the Denver Nuggets for shooting guard Evan Fournier and the 56th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
This past season, Fournier started four games for the Nuggets and averaged 8.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 19.8 minutes per game. He also shot 37.6 percent from 3-point range after he shot 40.7 percent from behind the arc as a rookie.
Magic officials have liked Fournier, 21, going back to 2012. But the Magic used the 19th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft to select power forward Andrew Nicholson instead of Fournier.
"This was a situation where we felt like we were getting a player in Evan Fournier who helps make us better," Magic GM Rob Hennigan said. "We feel like he can grow with the team. We feel like he complements a lot of the players who are currently on the roster, and we're excited about the skill set he brings to the team."
Afflalo, 28, is on track to become a free agent during the summer of 2015, and the Magic likely wanted to ensure they would receive an asset in return.
“The idea is just to continue to be professional and understand that that’s part of the business,” Afflalo told the Orlando Sentinel in a phone interview. “You’re always surprised when you get traded because it’s just a change. There’s some obvious windows with success and my age and my contract and the [Magic] and how we were developing as a group.
“I’m always one for always seeing potential and success every single year that I played the game. I always thought that we could be good now. But things take time to develop, and I believe the management group that the Magic have are smart guys. They’re going to do what’s best for the team.”
On Twitter, Fournier wrote: “Thanks everyone for the support I really appreciate it...I'm a magic now. #thanksagain #newteam #newgoals.”
Afflalo heard about the trade this morning from his agent and from his dad.
Since then, he has spoken with Magic general manager Rob Hennigan and assistant general manager Scott Perry.
A league source told the Sentinel several days ago that Afflalo and his agent did not ask for a trade, and Afflalo confirmed that today.
“To me, that’s just about being professional,” Afflalo said. “That’s about being appreciative of having a job in the NBA. I find it hard to just tell a place you don’t want to be there.”
Acquiring Fournier for Afflalo also will open approximately $6 million in additional cap space for Orlando. The Magic could have as much as $28.7 million in cap space this summer.
The team isn’t expected to be a major player in free agency, but the additional cap space might help the Magic add a high-priced player via a trade.
The major question is this: Could the Magic have received a better player in exchange for Afflalo?
Hennigan said the interest in Afflalo from other teams was significant, but he would not disclose the other offers the Magic received.
"As we started to parse through all the options that existed, or that we felt like made sense for us, we felt this was atop the list for us," Hennigan said.
But why did the Magic make the deal in late June instead of later in the summer or as the 2014-15 trade deadline approached?
That remains unclear.
"We just felt this made the most sense for our team at the present time," Hennigan said. "We really like how Evan fits with our team, and we like what we feel he can bring to our team now and moving into the future."
There was one other immediate upshot from the Afflalo-Fournier deal: The supposed trade talks between the Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers that would've sent the fourth and 12th picks and Afflalo to Cleveland for the top overall pick were never close to coming to fruition.
The Magic used the 56th pick to select Iowa swingman Roy Devyn Marble.
Afflalo had his most productive season as a pro in 2013-14, averaging 18.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. He also made 42.7 percent of his 3-point tries.
Afflalo will turn 29 in October, and he has a player option for the 2015-16 season. He has indicated that he plans to decline his player option and become an unrestricted free agent in July 2015.
Magic decision-makers like Afflalo, but they were unlikely to re-sign him at his market rate because the team is unlikely to be a contender in 2015-16 or 2016-17.
The team had no guarantee that Afflalo would have reconsidered re-signing with Orlando. Afflalo, who was one of the Magic's most competitive players, was frustrated by the team's 20-62 record in 2012-13 and 23-59 record last season.
“Even a casual fan could probably tell that, if a player is maybe four years older than the average player on the team that it takes time for those other guys to develop,” Afflalo said. “Basketball has a shelf life. Although I feel like I’m a player that’s only going to get better with time . . . every franchise, every team has to give a lot of insight to what they feel is best.
“It’s been tough losing at times and not being competitive for the ultimate goal,” Afflalo added. That’s probably been the only tough thing: not winning and being competitive for a championship in the later portions of the regular season.
“That’s been the most difficult thing. But outside of those two things, it’s been great. It’s been great for my career. It’s been great for my development. I appreciate my time [in Orlando].”
Now, Afflalo is returning to the Nuggets, where he played for three seasons before he was included in the Aug. 2012 trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Nuggets finished last season with a 36-46 record.
“I’m excited,” Afflalo said.
“Since I left there, there’s a completely different change in the management, a completely different coaching staff. I’ve always been very appreciative of the Kroenke family. They gave me my first opportunity for success, so to speak. . . . When you play this game, you play to win and you play to have fun with your teammates and build relationships with your teammates. That group of guys that are still currently there are guys that I’ve had the best tenure with in my NBA career.”
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