Rather than sign each other’s players with no compensation, Orlando, Detroit and Toronto made nice Thursday.
The Magic worked out sign-and-trade deals with the Pistons and Raptors, resulting in a nice extra chunk of cash for Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady.
Both players signed seven-year, maximum salary deals worth $93 million with their old teams, then were traded to the Magic. They join Tim Duncan and Jalen Rose as the biggest financial winners of this summer’s free agent class.
Free agents Chucky Atkins and Ben Wallace, who were already prepared to sign with Detroit, ended up signing with the Magic and then being traded to the Pistons for Hill.
“I kind of felt all along that if I left Detroit, this is where I wanted to come. When we played against them, they would just play so hard. That really impressed me,” Hill said.
No. 1 Pick for McGrady
McGrady, who was prepared to sign a six-year deal with Orlando containing 10 percent annual raises, instead gets a seven-year deal starting at $9.6 million with annual raises of 12.5 percent.
Orlando sent a future No. 1 pick to Toronto for McGrady.
The Magic also made a trade with Cleveland, sending small forward Matt Harpring to the Cavaliers for center Andrew DeClercq.
The Magic’s maneuverings were the biggest story on a day when most of the other signings were minor.
The San Antonio Spurs signed their remaining two free agents, Avery Johnson and Antonio Daniels, the Vancouver Grizzlies signed free agent forward Tony Massenburg of the Houston Rockets, the New Jersey Nets re-signed forward Johnny Newman, Boston signed free agent guard Randy Brown from the Chicago Bulls and Phoenix re-signed forward Corie Blount.
28 Free Agents Signed
A total of 28 free agents have signed contracts during the first three days since the NBA’s one-month moratorium on trades and free agent signings expired.
Among the best players still available are forward Maurice Taylor and guard Derek Anderson of the Los Angeles Clippers, Boston forward Danny Fortson, Charlotte center Brad Miller, Indiana guards Reggie Miller and Mark Jackson, Lakers forward Glen Rice, Miami guard Tim Hardaway, New Jersey swingman Kendall Gill, Philadelphia forward Toni Kukoc, Portland forward Brian Grant and Utah guard Howard Eisley.
The trades of Hill and McGrady climaxed a tense three days in Orlando as the Magic tried to find a power forward to man the front line along with Hill and center John Amaechi.
Orlando was interested in Taylor, who is anxious to leave the Clippers after three seasons, but no deal could be worked out.
Hill had already verbally committed to Orlando, while Atkins and Wallace had committed to Detroit.
‘A Big Loss’
“We still have some work to do. Losing Grant Hill. That’s a big loss,” Pistons coach George Irvine said. “We’re not trying to fill Grant’s shoes ... what we are trying to do is improve at every position.”
Orlando’s news conference to announce the deals for Hill, McGrady and DeClercq was held up for more than three hours for unspecified reasons.
When it finally happened, Hill explained his thinking in taking a seven-year deal (with an opt-out after five years).
“Every time I came down here I seemed to add a year (to the contract). It started out as four years and wound up at seven,” Hill said. “This is just where I want to be. I didn’t want to go through this again.”
The first-round pick that Orlando sent to Toronto for McGrady is partially lottery-protected. Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald said his team may not be able to use it for several years.
Search for Small Forward
The Pistons are still in the market for a small forward following Hill’s departure, but neither Irvine nor team president Joe Dumars would comment on who might fill that role.
Thursday’s deal gives Detroit room to maneuver under the salary cap.
Wallace averaged 4.8 points on 50.3 percent shooting with 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 24.2 minutes per game. Atkins averaged 9.5 points on 42.4 percent shooting with 3.7 assists in 19.8 minutes off the bench for Orlando last year.
Hill, a five-time All-Star, is coming off his best season as a pro when he averaged 25.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists. After working on his long-range jumper last summer, Hill made 34 3-pointers—12 more than he had made during his first five years in the league combined.
McGrady, 21, moved into the starting lineup for Toronto late in the season as he averaged 15.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists.