LAS VEGAS — The Orlando Magic’s new four-year contract with forward Aaron Gordon is more team-friendly, with smaller average cap hits, than was initially reported.
The four-year deal, which became official Friday, is worth a total of $76 million in base salary, the Orlando Sentinel has learned from a league source.
The fully guaranteed contract does not include any team option or player option or player opt-out.
And, as the Sentinel reported Friday, the year-by-year salary structure will decrease in the second, third and fourth seasons of the contract.
The Sentinel has learned Gordon will earn base salaries of $21,590,909 this upcoming season, $19,863,636 in 2019-20, $18,136,364 in 2020-21 and $16,409,091 in 2021-22.
His average base salary will be $19 million.
Gordon also could earn $1 million in incentives each season. It’s unclear what would trigger those incentives. If he earns those incentives in all four seasons, the total worth of his contract would balloon to $80 million.
That structure benefits both parties. It helps Gordon because it will enable him to invest a larger share of his total money upfront, thus allowing him to put more of his money to work for him earlier. The structure helps the Magic because the year-over-year salary decreases will reduce their team’s cap figures somewhat during the summers of 2019, 2020 and 2021; in theory, the lower salaries would make Gordon easier for Orlando to trade if team executives attempt to do so in future years.
Gordon’s new deal originally was reported as being worth a total of $84 million, not the $76 million in base salary.
Team officials would not disclose figures and would not comment for this story.
Gordon entered July 1 as a restricted free agent. Because the Magic had the opportunity to match any offer sheet Gordon might have signed from another team, and because most teams match offer sheets for their restricted free agents, the Magic had a major advantage in the process.
Through no fault of Gordon’s, this summer was a relatively rotten summer to become a restricted free agent. Gordon’s negotiating leverage was low because only a few teams had significant space to make him an offer large enough to dissuade Orlando from matching.
On July 1, the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers — teams flush with cash that had been rumored to have interest in Gordon — reached deals with other free agents, diminishing their cap flexibility.
The Mavericks agreed to a one-year, $24.1 million contract with center DeAndre Jordan. The Suns, meanwhile, reached a one-year, $15 million deal with forward Trevor Ariza. The Lakers agreed with LeBron James on a four-year, $154 million deal.
With his new contract, Gordon still will be Orlando’s highest-paid player.
Along with rookie center Mo Bamba and second-year forward Jonathan Isaac, Gordon is regarded as a critical part of the Magic’s long-term nucleus.