Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon has been playing his best basketball this season since he arrived in the NBA. No wonder there are rumors that he has attracted the interest of several ballclubs as he heads into restricted free agency this summer.
The 22-year-old Gordon has slowly proven himself worthy of being the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, evidently improving year after year as his numbers have gradually increased.
Now in his fourth year as a professional, Gordon is averaging 18.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 34.0 minutes per game in 39 games so far for the Magic, all career-highs. He is also currently shooting a career-best 34.6 percent from beyond the arc and 44.7 percent from the field to lead Orlando in scoring.
As his rookie deal expires, the former Arizona standout is set to become a restricted free agent in July and his so far top form has not come at a more opportune time. Some analysts believe that Gordon could become one of the biggest attractions in the upcoming free agency period, but the Magic still has the right to match any offers other teams might extend to him.
Sporting News’ Sean Deveney recently tweeted that Gordon “will get significant interest” from the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, and Indiana Pacers in the summer and that he could be the “focus” of the market “once the (limited) big names,” such as LeBron James, Paul George, and DeMarcus Cousins, have all landed in their preferred destinations.
In a separate article for Sporting News, Deveney said that most of the best players available in the upcoming free agency may not move from their respective teams at all. He said that Kevin Durant would most likely remain with Golden State while James (Cleveland), George (Oklahoma City), and Chris Paul (Houston) are only “marginal candidates to leave their current teams.”
League sources tell SN that @OrlandoMagic restricted FA Aaron Gordon will get significant interest from the @Suns and @dallasmavs this summer, as well as @Pacers. Once the (limited) big names of the free-agent market are settled, Gordon will be a focus.https://t.co/j9KXKs5ZON
— Sean Deveney (@SeanDeveney) February 21, 2018
Beyond that, there are two All-Star big men in DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans), who is out recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, and DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles), who is “offensively limited,” Deveney said. This leaves the rest of the NBA teams with salary cap space to compete for a “bustling group of restricted free agents” to which Gordon is included.
However, Deveney noted that these restricted FAs all have “asterisks” beside their names as most, if not all, of them have ongoing issues like “a lingering injury, a front office seeking to rebuild, (and) a team with luxury tax concerns.”
In Gordon’s case, Deveney said that while he managed to improve season-by-season, his recent hip flexor injury presents a risk that interested teams may have to take if they want to sign him. This should explain why no team has approached Orlando prior to this year’s trade deadline even though they “quietly” shopped Gordon around, according to The Athletic.
While he has become one of Orlando’s core players, some analysts believe that the Magic will not be able to afford to give him an upgraded deal as the club is reportedly headed into a full rebuild this offseason. This means that they would more likely not match any offers other teams may propose to him this summer.