Magic Acquire Shabazz Napier From Heat

By John Denton

July 27, 2015

ORLANDO – In a move that should greatly bolster the team’s depth at point guard and its shooting on the wings, the Orlando Magic have acquired versatile guard Shabazz Napier from the Miami Heat.

The trade for Napier, 24, cost the Magic only a protected second-round draft pick and Orlando also received cash considerations, GM Rob Hennigan announced. The Heat were in a position of needing to trim salary because of luxury tax concerns and the Magic were the beneficiary by acquiring the former Most Outstanding Player of the 2014 NCAA National Championship Game.

Napier, who is 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, can play both point guard and shooting guard because of his ball-handling and shooting abilities. He should provide depth at both guard spots behind starters Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo. Orlando also signed free-agent guard C.J. Watson this offseason to provide depth at the guard slots.

Napier’s rookie season with the Heat had mixed results. He averaged 5.1 points and 2.5 assists in 51 games and his season ended prematurely when he needed surgery on April 1 to repair a sports hernia. He shot just 38.2 percent from the field, but was solid from the 3-point line at 36.4 percent His best run as a pro came from Nov. 16 through Nov. 25 when he scored in double figures in six straight games. He had games in February and March where he scored 18 and 16 points and made four 3-pointers in each of those games.

Napier played recently in the Southwest Airlines Orlando pro Summer League and the Las Vegas Summer League with the Heat. He had 14 points and six assists in his one game in Orlando and he led the Heat in scoring (18 ppg.) in Las Vegas. In four summer league games in July, Napier shot 36.5 percent from the field (19 of 52) and 30.8 percent from 3-point range (5 of 14).

Napier is best known for his standout play at UConn, where he helped the Huskies win two national titles. He evolved into a college star as a senior when he averaged 18 points a game while leading UConn on a Cinderella-like run through the NCAA Tournament and to the championship. His gusty play despite his sleight build led superstar forward LeBron James to call him his ``favorite player’’ in the draft and it prompted the Heat trade for him after he had been selected No. 24 in the 2014 NBA Draft.

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