While NBA free agency has been a boon for some teams over the years, it often comes with a lot of risk. The Orlando Magic know all about this, and they’ve had a number of notable signings backfire on them. It hasn’t always been their fault, but their worst failures in free agency highlight how it can be so fickle.
5. Grant Hill (7-year, $92.8 million contract in 2000)
The Orlando Magic hoped that Grant Hill would form a formidable duo with a young Tracy McGrady when they joined forces in 2000. After all, in six seasons with the Pistons, Hill quickly rose as one of the best players in the league. This transaction involved the Pistons inking Hill to a hefty seven-year, $92.8 million deal and then sending him to Orlando.
But as bad luck would have it, Hill suffered a series of ankle injuries that needed to be repaired through surgery. In one of the procedures, he contracted a potentially fatal infection, forcing him out of action for a significant time. While he was able to come back and play 67 games and average 19.7 points in 2004-05 after he missed the entire 2003-04 season, he was no longer the superstar he once was.
While Hill’s contract might be the heftiest on this list, it should be acknowledged that the fault shouldn’t lie with him or Orlando. Injuries happen in sports, and Hill was especially unlucky in his career.
4. Jonathon Simmons (3-year, $20 million contract in 2017)
Jonathon Simmons made the headlines when he reportedly shelled out $150 to try out for an NBA team. He backed it up by actually making it into the NBA.
Simmons’ most notable stint was with the San Antonio Spurs. Who could ever forget that chase-down block on Stephen Curry on the opening night of the 2016-17 season? And how intrinsic Simmons was during the Spurs’ trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2017?
Simmons’ solid Spurs stint was enough for the Magic to ink him to a three-year, $20 million deal in 2017. He started out strong, chucking in a couple of 20-plus-point games, including a career-high 35 points. But his performance was inconsistent and the Magic traded him away after a season and a half with them.
Simmons could’ve been one of the greatest basketball Cinderella stories of all time, but it’s unfortunate that things didn’t pan out that well in Orlando.
3. Channing Frye (4-year, $32 million contract in 2014)
Most people know Channing Frye for his stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers and his fun and outspoken persona. But in the middle of his NBA career, Frye inked a lucrative four-year $32 million deal with the Magic.
Prior to inking the deal, Frye — the eighth overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft — was a solid stretch big man. He averaged a career-high 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds with the Phoenix Suns in 2010-11. His highest clip from deep was 43.9 percent — a good percentage in any era.
Perhaps this was what attracted the Magic to the Arizona product. But rather than producing great numbers, Frye’s stint with the Magic was actually one of the least productive of his career. In his last season with the Magic, he averaged a mere 5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds. This was enough for the Magic to send him away to Cleveland in 2015-16, and he won a championship that year.
2. Rashard Lewis (6-year, $118 million contract in 2007)
After nine extremely productive seasons with the Seattle SuperSonics, Rashard Lewis thought it was time for a change. Though several teams were interested in acquiring him, he joined the Orlando Magic via sign-and-trade. The deal was worth $118 million for six years. During this time, Dwight Howard was a serious up-and coming star, and the Magic thought they had formed a solid one-two punch:
Lewis actually had a decent stint with the Magic. He made the All-Star team, had a surefire stroke from deep, and he seemed to work well with Howard. They even made it to the 2009 NBA Finals. But production didn’t just equate with what the Magic were paying him.
It wasn’t injuries that prevented Lewis from performing up to par, but rather he simply wasn’t meeting the Magic’s expectations. After three and a half seasons with the Magic, the franchise decided to trade him away.
1. Bismack Biyombo (4-year, $72 million contract in 2016)
Biyombo entered the limelight after his performance in the 2016 NBA Playoffs as a member of the Toronto Raptors, particularly in the Eastern Conference Finals against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Biyombo snagged a franchise record 26 rebounds in Game 3, and he made notable contributions throughout the series.
This was a pretty big deal then. After all, Biyombo was the seventh overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and was finally showing his vast potential. From the point of view of the Magic, this talent was unveiled in the playoffs, so they took a risk by giving him this massive $72 million deal during the 2016 spending spree.
But like the aforementioned names on the list, Biyombo did not live up to the deal. In his first season with the Magic, he averaged 6.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in 22.0 minutes per game. In the following year, he averaged 5.7 points and 5.7 rebounds before getting traded to the Charlotte Hornets.