The deadline for NBA teams to broker extensions with players nearing the end of their rookie-scale contracts is bearing down upon us. But while some like Norman Powell, Josh Richardson, Joel Embiid, Gary Harris and Andrew Wiggins have reached agreements, others won’t be so luck.
This includes Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton.
From the Orlando Sentinel‘s Josh Robbins:
Although Gordon’s and Payton’s situations could change, it seems unlikely that the Magic will reach extension agreements with either Gordon or Payton before Monday’s deadline.
This surprises no one. The Orlando Magic don’t necessarily know what they have in either player. Gordon has spent the majority of his career being shuttled between the 3 and 4, never establishing an identity or a path toward an identity on offense. Payton has yet to pilot a top-tier offense prior to the month of February—and I’m only half-kidding.
On top of all that, the Magic are working with a new front office regime, led by Jeff Weltman and John Hammond. Takeovers of this kind seldom commit to what transpired during the previous reign. The Magic are in a special situation, but given that teams hold all the power in restricted free agency, it makes sense for them to wait and see whether Gordon and/or Payton are worth a lucrative long-term investment.
Could that ultimately cost the Magic money, or one to both of these players, by opening them up to larger-than-life offer sheets? Sure. But this team needs a cornerstone first and foremost. Investing big-time money in anyone who doesn’t fit the bill beyond a shadow of a doubt is irresponsible—particularly when you will still have the option of bringing them back next summer.