By John Denton
June 26, 2014
ORLANDO -- Working proactively to acquire another promising asset for a player heading into his contract year, the Orlando Magic dealt veteran shooting guard Arron Afflalo to the Denver Nuggets for guard Evan Fournier and rookie guard Roy Devyn Marble, who was acquired with the No. 56 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft.
Afflalo, who will turn 29 in October, was Orlando’s leading scorer last season at 18.2 points per game, but he can become an unrestricted free agent following the 2014-15 season. Afflalo returns to Denver where he played for the Nuggets for three seasons prior to being included in a three-team trade involving the Magic, Lakers, Nuggets and Sixers in October of 2012.
``We decided to make a trade and any time we make a decision of that caliber we want to make sure that it’s rooted in principle,’’ Magic GM Rob Hennigan said. ``This was a situation where we felt like we were getting a player in Evan Fournier who helps make us better. We feel like he can grow with the team and he complements a lot of the players currently on the roster. We’re excited about the skill set he brings to the team.’’
Fournier and Marble join No. 4 pick Aaron Gordon and No. 10 selection Elfrid Payton as members of the new-look Magic. Orlando took Gordon much higher than most experts had him being selected and it acquired Payton in a trade of Dario Saric. Gordon, Payton and Marble will participate in the Orlando Pro Summer League July 5-11 with the Magic’s summer entry.
The Magic wanted to ensure themselves of getting an asset for the highly respected Afflalo and they jumped at the chance to acquire the 21-year-old Fournier. Hennigan called the trade interest in Afflalo ``significant’’ and he felt it wise to trade the veteran guard now instead of waiting until the February trade deadline.
``Arron is a good player and he’s a great competitor and a great teammate and you could see why a lot of teams had interest,’’ Hennigan said. ``As we started to parcel through all of the options that existed, we felt like this was at the top of the list for us.’’
Hennigan employeed a similar strategy in 2012 when dealing with free-agent-to-be guard J.J. Redick. Hennigan traded Redick to Milwaukee for Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb and Beno Udrih while also unloading the contracts of John McRoberts, Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith on the Bucks. Redick eventually left the Bucks for a $28 million deal with the Los Angeles Clippers, while the high-scoring Harris has evolved into key piece of the Magic’s foundation.
The 6-foot-6, 200-pound Fournier, a native of France, can play both guard spots and is an adept drive-and-kick playmaker. Fournier, a second-year pro who was the 20th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, averaged 8.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 76 games last season with the Nuggets.
Fournier had two dazzling performances in the final month of last season, pumping in 26 points against Houston and 23 points versus Utah. In the April 6 loss to the Rockets, Fournier came off the bench and drilled nine of 16 field goals and six 3-pointers in the 26-point effort.
A 41.9 percent shooter and a 37.6 marksman from 3-point range, Fournier made at least three 3-pointers in 11 games last season. The finest game of his NBA career came in February when he torched the Sacramento Kings for 27 points, four 3-pointers, five assists and four rebounds.
``Evan is a guy who we see as a versatile player. He can handle the ball and he can help stretch the floor and he can make plays. And he gives solid effort on the defensive end,’’ Hennigan said. ``We just like what he brings to the table.’’
Afflalo played at an all-star level for most of last season before tailing off down the stretch as the Magic limped to 23 wins. Afflalo still raised his scoring average for a seventh consecutive season, something that only one other player (Derek Harper for eight straight years) has done in NBA history.
Marble was the 56th pick of Thursday's NBA Draft. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound guard, who is the son of former NBA player Roy Marble, averaged 17 points per game last season for the University of Iowa.
``Roy is someone who can bring a lot of different things,’’ Hennigan said. ``He is skilled and he knows how to play the game. He has an aptitude and intelligence level on the floor that makes other players better. He has more of an overall cerebral, instinctual game that we liked quite a bit.’’