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Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris dealt to Detroit Pistons in exchange for Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova

Yash Matange
17 Feb 2016, 20:30 IST
Tobias Harris is averaging 13 points and 7 rebounds through 49 games for the Magic.

Trade news and General Manager reactions

The NBA’s mid-season trade deadline is 3 PM Eastern Time on the first Thursday following the All-Star Weekend. The trade deadline has been crazy, to say the least previous two occasions, however, this year few teams made their trades official a couple of days before the deadline.

In a deal announced on Tuesday evening, the Detroit Pistons sent Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova to the Orlando Magic for forward Tobias Harris. For quite some time the Pistons were looking for an upgrade from Ilyasova at the shooting power forward position (stretch 4) and New Orleans Pelicans’ Ryan Anderson was considered to be the prime target. Trade talks concerning Harris were not heard of, making the move by Magic to give up on the young small forward a huge surprise.

Just like any other trade that goes down in the NBA, both parties came away happy and satisfied as portrayed by the respective General Managers:

"This is a move that can be looked at as a long-term move, as one that will fit with our core group of players, and we'll be able to keep them together," Detroit general manager Jeff Bower said.

"We felt like we needed to shuffle the deck a little bit. We needed to try to shake things up, not a ton, but we felt like the roster needed to be balanced in certain ways," Orlando GM Rob Hennigan said. "I don't think it's been a secret that we've been looking for more veteran stability on the roster."

Trade Grades:

Detroit Pistons: A

Ever since Stan Van Gundy took over as the Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations for the Detroit Pistons in the May of 2014, the team has taken small steps and has slowly elevated itself from the bottom of the Eastern Conference. This year after letting Greg Monroe walk in the summer, Van Gundy began building a team around dominant rebounding center Andre Drummond, in what seems to be a version of the team he had in his coaching years in Orlando with center Dwight Howard.

Every signing or trade since last year’s trade deadline has seen the Pistons roster take huge steps in the positive directions, the trade to add Harris is no different. To sum up what Harris brings or adds to Detroit is: roster and cap flexibility. Harris’ versatile talents go hand in hand with Van Gundy’s vision for the team. 


Although his shooting has taken a hit as compared to last season, that can be worked on with more in-game opportunities and practices with the team’s player development staff. With his age (23 years) Harris is a better fit than Ilyasova as he joins a team with a core of players all aged at 25 or below (Drummond (22), Reggie Jackson (25) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (22)). 

In Detroit, Harris will join the young core of Drummond and Jackson.

Absorbing Harris’ contract of 3 more years (16 million per year) is a safer player to trade for rather than Ryan Anderson’s contract worth 8.5 million dollars which will expire at the end of this season. To top it of Harris adds much-needed defense at the stretch four positions, something the Pistons were lacking when players like Ilyasova were on the floor.

The trade poses no tax implications for either team. For Detroit, absorbing Harris’ contract will mean their cap space for this summer coming to 12 million from 20 million. With the salary cap most likely to increase, Pistons’ get a huge advantage of having a young developing player under contract rather than having a huge salary cap in a thin free agent market. Currently placed 9th in the East and a half game behind the Charlotte Hornets, the trade also opens up a roster spot allowing the team to land a buyout player in February en route to making an attempt to reach the franchise’s first Playoffs since 2009.

Orlando Magic: B-

Sure the Orlando Magic has added the much needed veteran presence in the locker room that the GM Rob Hennigan was talking about but the franchise gave up the financial flexibility they had just gained this summer. With Channing Fyre already in the roster as a stretch big, the role of Ilyasova in the team is questionable and even if he is waived, it is a 16 millioin dollars hit for the team over a two years span.

The only part of this trade which seems legit for the Magic is the addition of Jennings. His name and play will bolster the Magic backcourt which is currently struggling with C.J. Watson out for the season and Elfird Payton not playing up to potential.  

This summer the Magic will join many other teams in the league to have huge cap room in this free agent market. By the looks of it, the trade should not make any instant impact on the team which will help them make a run for the Playoffs this season. Long term benefits of having multiple veterans around a group of skilled and talented youngsters seem to be the Magic’s path to being competitive again.

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