It must be a difficult time to be an Orlando Magic fan.
Three years ago, the Magic were coming off a trip to the NBA Finals and had just reloaded their team with the additions of Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson, among others. The Magic would make it back to the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals before being eliminated by the Boston Celtics. Still, the Magic remained a contender and one of the elite teams in the league. Plus they had the league's best center, Dwight Howard, just entering his prime.
Fast forward two years and things have completely fallen apart. The Magic are coming off of two straight first round exits and just went through the most hectic and trying season in the history of their franchise. They've given out some of the worst contracts in the league and Howard continues to make a play for Brooklyn.
In an attempt to rectify the situation, Orlando cleaned house, making Rob Hennigan their general manager.
As you can imagine, Hennigan has quite the difficult job in front of him.
Hennigan clearly isn't in an envious position at the moment.
Although Hennigan is considered a very smart guy and likely has a bright future in the league, his first few moves have surprised many.
First, Hennigan completely cleaned house, firing long time executives, Dave Twardzik and fan favorite Adonal Foyle. Foyle was supposedly one of the prized possessions in the Magic front office, so the move caught many off guard.
The skeptics were silenced rather quickly because Hennigan has since brought in Scott Perry and Matt Lloyd as assistant general managers, two moves that have been praised by many around the league.
Hennigan's first important roster move after the draft was deciding what to do with incumbent point guard Jameer Nelson. Nelson decided to opt out of the last year of his contract, saving the Magic over $8 million. Just a few days later, the Magic and Nelson agreed to a contract worth a reported $19.7 million over three years.
Just two days later, Orlando decided to deal power forward Ryan Anderson, the team's second leading scorer and rebounder last season, to the New Orleans Horrnets in a sign-and-trade that netted them center Gustavo Ayon.
Anderson, who led the league in both three-pointers made an attempted last season, was clearly seeking a raise, so if the Magic simply couldn't afford him, it made sense to get an asset back. However, the details of Anderson's new contract have started to emerge,the deal is reportedly worth $36 over four years.
Many have begun to question Hennigan's plan. Why pay a 30-year old point guard over $6 million a year, but deal your second best player, who is just 24 years old, to save cap room when he he's only making $9 million per season. If Anderson had gotten the ridiculous contract that some other players appear to be receiving (Nicolas Batum, for example), then the Magic probably would have been forced to dump him.
Although these moves do raise a lot of eyebrows, it's a little too early to rush to judgement.
Hennigan drafted St. Bonaventure power forward Andrew Nicholson, whom he considered the best player remaining on the board, in the first round of the draft. Plus, he knows it would be extremely difficult to trade Glen Davis, who was productive at the end of the season last year. Earl Clark is also back in the mix. Power Forward is probably Orlando's deepest position. Anderson's poor performance in each of the last three postseasons also may have played a role in the decision to deal him.
He also picked up Ayon, who can log minutes at center, something the Magic have clearly lacked over the last couple of seasons.
The decision to deal Anderson should make Orlando's cap situation a little easier to work with, too.
If the Magic do wind up acquiring one of the centers they've been connected with over the last year in Brookyln's Brook Lopez or Los Angeles' Andrew Bynum in a Dwight Howard trade, maybe this puts the Magic in a position to acquire the wing player they've badly needed over the last few seasons.
Obviously, it's easy and possibly even fair to question Hennigan's decisions as Orlando's general manager so far, but Hennigan shouldn't be condemned until fans see the finished product.