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Grades: Aaron Gordon Deciding to Stay in Orlando Could Stunt His Growth

Aaron Gordon is staying with the only team he has ever known but would he have been better served going elsewhere?

Aaron Gordon is staying with the only NBA team he’s ever known. The former Dunk Contest champion and No. 4 overall pick reportedly agreed to a four-year, $84 million deal with the Magic the same night LeBron took his talents to Hollywood. Gordon played in 58 games for Orlando last season, averaging career highs in points (17.6) and minutes (32.9) per game, as well as three-point percentage (33.6%.) With the deal, Gordon secures his first big-money contract and he has the ability to re-enter free agency at 26. Let’s grade the deal for the Magic.

OK, now that we’ve moved past the polite introduction, I want to talk about how much I dislike this signing for both sides. For the Magic, do you plan on playing a lineup of five centers at once? Sure, it would’ve been silly to let someone like Gordon walk out the door. You know what else is silly? Having Mo Bamba, Jonathan Isaac, Nikola Vucevic, Bismack Biyombo and Gordon on the same roster. That’s basically four centers and a fifth player (Gordon) who should probably be playing center more often. Sure, Vucevic likely won’t be re-signed, and Biyombo will probably be off the team in two seasons, but that still leaves three young players (Gordon, Bamba and Isaac) who are at best an awkward fit together and should likely never share the court.

For Gordon, it’s time to think about what you want your career to be. Gordon has the potential to be something of a Baby Draymond, a small-ball five with incredible athleticism who will chase sluggish bigs off the court when his team decides to spread things out. Playing center is a grind, I get it, so Gordon could’ve at least tried to attach himself to a spacier team that starts another big and finishes small. Who knows what his free agency was like, and most compelling teams didn’t have cap space, but I wish Gordon gave more thought to signing elsewhere. I just don’t know if he’ll ever reach his ceiling in Orlando, considering a bunch of seven footers are currently in his way. At some point, I think both parties will be better off once they part ways.

Grade: C-

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