Multiple sources are reporting that the Orlando Magic have agreed to trade Ryan Anderson to the New Orleans Hornets in return for Gustavo Ayon. Anderson is a restricted free agent, and thus must be moved in a sign-and-trade. Details of an Anderson contract have yet to emerge and the deal has yet to be finalized (EDIT: Anderson’s deal is worth 36 million dollars over 4 years), but his potential departure from Orlando says a lot about the direction of both the Magic and Hornets.
By moving Anderson, arguably the team’s second best player at just 24, the Magic have entered full re-building mode, and a deal involving Dwight Howard appears imminent. Anderson is the perfect complement to Howard as a space-creating stretch 4, and it was easy to imagine the two of them playing off one another to great success for years to come. Now, though, Orlando’s roster is without its best young asset and Howard playing partner. A Howard trade has been on the horizon for weeks, but this move signals the Magic may already have something in the works involving the game’s best center.
New Orleans, meanwhile, comes one step closer to major relevancy in the Western Conference just eight months after trading franchise cornerstone Chris Paul. With Eric Gordon (who signed a max offer sheet with Phoenix as a RFA, but will reportedly be retained by the Hornets), 2012 number one pick Anthony Davis, tenth overall selection Austin Rivers, and Anderson in the fold, the Hornets suddenly have one of basketball’s best young quartets. Losing the supremely underrated Ayon hurts, but is more than worth it given the acquisition of Anderson, especially considering what appears to be his reasonable new contract. Some worry that adding Anderson – a power forward despite his perimeter shooting skill – pushes Davis out of position to center, but given the preference to speed and quickness over strength and girth in today’s game, this admittedly lithe frontcourt tandem should be able to hold its own against the vast majority of inside duos. And offensively, it presents New Orleans with numerous advantages that outweigh the opposite on the other end of the floor.
Anderson’s move swings the pendulum in opposing directions for the Magic and Hornets, and it’s not hard to figure out which way for each. Orlando can take solace in the fact, though, that their newest trade partner has turned things around so quickly after dealing its own face of the franchise. Trading a superstar is never ideal in the NBA, but New Orleans has shown that with prudent decision-making and a bit of luck an organization can recover faster than we originally thought.