ORLANDO, Fla. — Entering free agency this offseason Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan predicted only minor, not major tinkering with his roster unless there was a piece he and his staff felt like they had to have.
Initially, the shedding of veterans Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo seemed to be an abrupt shift away from that plan and toward youth. But with the addition of Ben Gordon last week and official signing of free agent veteran shooter Channing Frye on Monday, Hennigan said he is happy with how the summer is playing out.
“I think it would be a problem if we said we didn’t like it,” Hennigan said of the Magic’s current roster. “We’re excited with where we’re at. We’ve still got a lot of work to do — we’re fully aware of that — but we do think we’re heading in the right direction.”
In the 6-foot-11 Frye, that direction instantly gains an eight-year veteran and proven long-distance shooter with the ability to spread out defenses — a coveted commodity in the NBA.
He sat out the 2012-13 season after being diagnosed with an enlarged heart, and went through an intense eight-month stretch that included him wearing a heart monitor and having closely monitored activity in which he was only able to do minimal exercise.
But he eventually worked his way back to the court, and played all 82 games for the first time in his career last season.
“When something’s taken away from you, you just take step back, and you really appreciate it,” Frye said. “It’s not so much a job. This is a blessing and opportunity. When or lose, I’m always going to have a smile on my face, because any moment this can be taken away.”
Frye, who spent the last four seasons in Phoenix, said he had interest from about 14 teams this summer.
In the end, getting a longer term deal and wanting to be a part of the Magic’s rebuilding process trumped signing a one- or two-year contract with a contender.
Frye’s deal is for four years and will play the 31-year-old about $32 million.
“I think the Magic pretty much made themselves at the top of my list early on,” he said. “They were the first people to call, and that means a lot.”
He’ll also to play alongside and mentor his cousin, Magic forward Tobias Harris.
It will allow Frye to step into the shoes of Grant Hill, whom he credits with being one of his biggest mentors.
“I think in Phoenix we never get any respect,” Frye said. “I don’t listen to anybody about what we’re going to be next year or what our record might be. Because most of the time they don’t know what they’re talking about...It’s a challenge and I’m ready to step up.”
Along with Frye’s signing Monday, the Magic also announced a minor deal with Chicago in which they acquired the contract of forward Anthony Randolph, two future second-round draft picks (in 2015 and 2016) and cash considerations in exchange for the draft rights to Milovan Rakovic.
The rights to Rakovic, who has played his entire career overseas, were originally acquired from Dallas in 2007. Orlando intends to waive Randolph.
The Magic are still safely under the salary cap, but Hennigan said there may be a few minor pieces yet to add before training camp.
“We always may have something up our sleeve. But I would think this probably serves as the bulk of what we’ll be doing this summer,” he said. “But I think we probably have a few other things to get done.”
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