The internet commentary machine has once again given Orlando Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan mixed reviews for his work yesterday. The Magic traded SG Aaron Afflalo to the Denver Nuggets early in the afternoon in exchange for Denver Nuggets guard Evan Fournier and the 56th pick in the draft used to select Iowa product Roy Devyn Marble. In the first round of the NBA Draft, the team selected University of Arizona forward Aaron Gordon with the fourth overall pick and Dario Saric of Croatia with the 12th pick. The Magic then flipped Saric to the Philadelphia 76ers for 10th pick Elfrid Payton from Louisiana-Lafayette, a 2015 second round pick and a protected 2017 first round pick initially acquired from the Sixers. Most commentators thought the Magic could have received more in return for Afflalo and paid too much for Payton. Further, the selection of Gordon was not without controversy because many slated the Orlando team to select PG Dante Exum or F Noah Vonleh. Clearly, Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan went with his own research and analysis and challenged conventional wisdom once again.
Those checking online grades at the time of the Magic’s consummation of the four team trade involving star center Dwight Howard in 2012 were told that Hennigan showed his inexperience by trading Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers and not receiving Andrew Bynum in return. Those reviewing the initial bad marks against actual results found that Hennigan and the Magic made out well. Bynum crashed and burned for the Sixers and Howard jumped ship from the Lakers at his first opportunity. Given that the Magic were forced to make a move to trade Howard due his refusal to sign an extension with the team, the Orlando GM made the best deal possible in a difficult situation. He ended up with Afflalo, starting center Nik Vucevic, rotation player and sometime starter Moe Harkless and five draft picks through 2017.
Hennigan also received mixed reviews for the JJ Redick trade to the Milwaukee Bucks. Redick, a hard worker and steady rotation player, pushed himself to become a trusted player for the Magic. With his contract expiring at the end of the 2013 season and the Magic obviously in rebuilding mode, Hennigan again found himself in the position of needing to trade a player. The Magic swapped Redick for Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb. At the time, Harris was stuck at the end of the Bucks bench and was not a productive asset for the Milwaukee club. Hennigan saw his potential and the young Tennessee product is now viewed as one of the Magic’s core players as they reconstruct the roster.
Magic GM Rob Hennigan is not afraid to fly against the grain to obtain players he believes will contribute to the team. Athough Afflalo is a very good player and probably should have been selected for the all-star team this past season, the market for his services was likely limited due to his right to opt out of his contract at the end of next season. Hennigan previously gave Fournier high marks when evaluating players entering the 2013 NBA Draft and jumped at the chance to acquire the young shooting guard. Similarly, Hennigan was in the market for a young point guard to team up with Victor Olidipo and target Payton with the 12th pick. When the Sixers selected Payton with the 10th pick, Hennigan agreed to draft Saric in order to trade him for Payton and the two future picks. Although many draft analysts gave Saric high grades for his potential, he will likely remain in Turkey for the next two years and Hennigan jumped at the chance to receive his potential point guard of the future now.
General Manager Rob Hennigan is not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom with his Orlando Magic roster moves. A number of commentators initially challenging the young GM’s moves have given him higher marks after the passage of time allows for viewing actual results on the court. On the 2014 NBA Draft day, Hennigan once again flew against the grain. Time will tell whether he made good moves or not.
Commentary by William Costolo