The topic of free agency will always be a little sour for the Orlando Magic. In 1996, Shaquille O’Neal shockingly left the team to join the Los Angeles Lakers. In 2000, it felt like the Magic landed a new franchise player in Grant Hill after signing him to a seven-year deal worth a whopping $92.8.million. Unfortunately, he was ravaged by injuries and only played for 200 games in six seasons.
Also in 2000, the Magic made arguably the biggest free agency blunder in NBA history. Superstar big man Tim Duncan was reportedly all set to sign with the squad. But he allegedly got turned off by the rule of then-coach Doc Rivers of not allowing family members on road trips. So, TD re-signed with the San Antonio Spurs. Talk about a missed opportunity.
But not everything’s a big L for the Magic in free agency. Through the years, they also acquired some gems, including a Hall of Fame member. No, it’s not Andrew DeClercq.
5. DJ Augustin
Augustin was a journeyman in his early years in the NBA, playing for seven teams in his first eight seasons. But it looks like he’s found a home with the Magic after signing a four-year deal worth $29 million in 2016. He’s helped the squad to back-to-back stints in the NBA Playoffs and is having the most consistent stretch of his career. He may not be a big name but he sure has been an important acquisition.
In his four years with the team, he’s tallied averages of 10.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 4.6 assists. The numbers aren’t exactly eye-popping, but he’s served as a steadying force with his veteran smarts. The former Texas standout doesn’t mind coming off the bench but can also produce when inserted into the starting lineup. He’s also been a good role model to Markelle Fultz, who had a much-awaited resurgence this season. The 32-year-old Augustin is now a free agent once again and it would be wise for the Magic to re-sign him.
4. Rashard Lewis
Not a few eyebrows were raised when the Magic inked Lewis for $118 million over six years in 2007. He was coming off a career year with the Seattle Supersonics but many felt the deal was too much. The sweet-shooting forward, however, quickly showed that the Magic made the right decision, helping them clinch the Southeast Division for the first time ever. He served as the perfect complement to superstar center Dwight Howard and was named as an All-Star in 2009. In Lewis’ first two years with the Magic, the team compiled a 111-53 record. He was a walking mismatch with his size and versatility.
But his biggest contributions to the Magic were during the team’s journey to the 2009 NBA Finals. He hit countless timely shots in their inspired run, highlighted by his memorable game-winning three-pointer against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. In the Last Dance against the Los Angeles Lakers, he averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and a team-high 4.0 assists.
3. Horace Grant
After landing Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway in back-to-back NBA Drafts in 1992 and 1993, the Magic needed a tough big man to complement the fast-rising duo. Grant was the perfect fit. After winning three straight titles with the Chicago Bulls, he brought his tough and no-nonsense approach to Central Florida, helping the Magic notch the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time ever in his first season with the squad.
He was a central piece to the Magic’s masterful campaign all the way to the 1995 NBA Finals. The 6’10” enforcer averaged 13.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 1.1 blocks in that postseason, while providing energy on both ends with his hard-nosed play. He was the prototypical role player who’s willing to do the grunt work and the intangibles. While he didn’t win any more championships with the Magic, he was one of the most beloved players during his seven-year stint, finishing with norms of 11.3 markers, 8.2 boards, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks.
2. Hedo Turkoglu
The Magic saw solid potential in Turkoglu when they signed him to a $39 million deal for six years in 2004. But little did they know, the versatile forward would become one of the most memorable players in team history. He immediately proved his worth in his first season with the Magic, averaging a career-high 14.0 points off the bench. At 6’10,” he was one of the early proponents of the so-called point forward position. He was smart, deliberate, and cunning.
The Turkey native kept hiking up his production every season. He was like fine wine as he got better as he aged. He was named Most Improved Player in 2008 at 28 years old after registering career-best norms of 19.5 points and 5.7 rebounds and a team-best 5.0 assists. In the 2009 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, he averaged team-highs of 18.0 markers and 49.2% field goal shooting. He also ate a few slices of pizza before every game. How can he not be a legend?
1. Tracy McGrady
Who you got between Shaquille O'Neal, Tracy McGrady and Penny Hardaway? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/VEcIxZsG9j
— Magic Nation (@MagicNationCP) June 24, 2020
The choice is as easy as an unmolested layup. The 2000 free agency wasn’t a complete mishap for the Magic as they landed their biggest offseason signing in team history. McGrady, who signed a lucrative $67.5 million deal for six years, immediately made his presence felt. In his maiden season, he averaged across-the-board numbers of 26.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.5 steals—all career-highs—and 1.5 blocks and was easily voted Most Improved Player.
T-Mac electrified Magic fans in his four-year stay with his flamboyant style and high-scoring soirees. He was an absolute beast, especially on offense. He led the NBA in scoring in his last two seasons with the team, including a career-high 32.1 markers in the 2002-2003 season. The biggest knock on him is that he never led the Magic past the first round of the NBA Playoffs. But there’s no denying the huge impact he had with the squad, with some going as far as saying he’s the best ever to wear the Magic jersey.