By David Aldridge, TNT analyst
Posted Jul 10 2009 8:39PM
The Orlando Magic are trying to keep up in the arms race in the competitive Eastern Conference, agreeing to terms on Friday with free agent forward Brandon Bass on a four-year deal believed to be worth $18 million.
The 23-year-old Bass was one of the most coveted big men in this year's free agency class, having been a valuable role player off the bench for the Mavericks the past two seasons. He played in 81 games for Dallas last year, averaging 8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 19 minutes a night. The Mavericks tried to keep him, but Dallas' commitment to Magic free agent center Marcin Gortat to an offer sheet made money scarce. New Orleans, Bass's first team, and Cleveland also were working to sign him.
With Hedo Turkoglu gone to Toronto, there may be an opportunity for a starting job at power forward in Orlando for Bass, with the Magic moving Rashard Lewis back to his normal small forward position. But even if he doesn't start, Bass will provide toughness and size for an Orlando team that now has to contend with Shaquille O'Neal and re-signed forward Anderson Varejao in Cleveland and the return of Kevin Garnett and newly signed Rasheed Wallace in Boston.
The Cavaliers made a last-minute push on Bass, according to a source, but didn't have a way to get him the money he'll get in Orlando. Cleveland has come to terms with free agent guard Anthony Parker and will probably use its mid-level exception on him, leaving only the biannual and veteran minimums for other players.
Bass's contract has an out clause after three seasons.
"Brandon is a physical, athletic frontline player," Orlando general manager Otis Smith said in a statement. "He will fit in well with our young core and we are excited to have him join the Magic family."
Bass is only 23, but he's been in the NBA for four years -- two with the Hornets, the last two with the Mavericks. He averaged 8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds over 19.4 minutes per game last season, almost identical to his numbers the previous season.
At 6-foot-8, Bass is a bit undersized for a power forward, but he's got a wide body and plenty of toughness. He also has a good mid-range jumper and he made 87 percent of his free throws last season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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