The Magic have agreed to sign unrestricted free agent guard Ben Gordon to a two-year contract worth $9 million, according to Yahoo Sports and USA Today Sports. The contract's second year is non-guaranteed.
Gordon, 31, was released by the Bobcats (now the Hornets) back in March and went unsigned for the stretch run of the 2013-14 season. The 10-year veteran appeared in just 19 games for Charlotte last season, averaging a career-low 5.2 points and 1.4 rebounds per game.
A 6-foot-3 guard with enough scoring ability to be the No. 3 pick in the 2004 draft, Gordon twice averaged more than 20 points per game during his Bulls tenure, but his career has never been the same since he signed with the Pistons in 2010. The 2005 Sixth Man of the Year has seen his opportunity for playing time steadily dwindle over the last six seasons, as he's bounced from Chicago to Detroit and then, in a 2012 trade, to Charlotte.
Gordon was reportedly involved in a heated practice argument with former coach Mike Dunlap in Charlotte, and he never endeared himself to Steve Clifford, who took over for Dunlap for the 2013-14 season. Despite numerous injuries to Charlotte's perimeter players, Clifford used Gordon only sparingly before the franchise cut ties with him in advance of its run to the 2014 playoffs.
It's completely unclear why Orlando would be interested in Gordon at this stage of his career, especially at this price. The Magic are pursuing a youth movement, and plan to give major backcourt minutes to 2013 lottery pick Victor Oladipo and 2014 lottery pick Elfrid Payton. Orlando also acquired 2012 first-round pick Evan Fournier in a trade for last year's starting two guard, Arron Afflalo, while recently claiming veteran guard Willie Green off of waivers.
Although the Magic have roster spots available after buying out veteran point guard Jameer Nelson and parting ways with Ronnie Price, adding an aging, shoot-first, no-defense player at a position that already includes multiple prospects requiring heavy minutes seems like a misguided waste.
Grade: F. The last time Gordon posted a league-average Player Efficiency Rating was 2008-09! That should tell you everything about this signing, even though only one of the deal's years was guaranteed. Gordon has had a limited impact over the last two seasons, but the bigger issue at play is that any success he has in Orlando will come at the expense of the Magic's younger guards. Even if he were to magically resuscitate his career and return to his days as a No. 1 scoring option, that would mean fewer shots for Oladipo, Fournier, and the Magic's young frontcourt options, including 2014 lottery pick Aaron Gordon.
And if Gordon's decline continues? Orlando just paid more than three times the veteran's minimum for a player whose recent track record suggests he should have been a September signing for a team looking to fill out its final roster spots. The Magic do have the need for a point guard, a low-cost veteran who can run an offense, but adding such a player now will only further crowd their backcourt.
While the Magic do need to meet the NBA's salary cap floor, perhaps they should have considered leaving their cap space open for the time being while seeking out opportunities to act as a trade facilitator. There was just no rush to add Gordon, whose -0.3 Win Shares last season tied for the 11th worst mark among players with at least 200 minutes logged.